The Road to Paris - On a Plateau - Asics Target 26.2 Training

The highs, lows (and everything in between) of my 16 week Paris Marathon training plan.

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12/01/2013 at 13:53

Shay_Ady - nice to meet you at parkrun this morning.  Good luck in your sub-3:30 quest.

Edited: 12/01/2013 at 14:22
12/01/2013 at 18:22

Day 27 - Asics Target 26.2 Paris Marathon Training (12/01/13)

Target: Parkrun 5km, plus 1.5 mile w/up & c/down

Actual: Parkrun 5km in 22.59 (23:00 official) plus 1.5 mile w/up (@ 8:30m/m) & c/down (9:00m/m)

Positioning: 13th out of 105. 3rd in my age category. 1:30mins behind winner.

Let the inquest begin. Deflated. Disappointed. Dejected. These are just some of the words that describe my feelings after today's Parkrun. I went into this with so much hope and like the English football team, I fell short of the high expectations expected of me.

I was so confident that I'd run a new PB today. I was even optimistic of getting down under 21 mins. What I'd failed to do, was do my homework on the Parkrun I was running. Guildford isn't the easiest course to run. There's not a single part that's flat. The whole course is undulating. On top of this, over half the course is off-road, run on grass around the perimeter of Stoke Park, where it takes place.

With all the rain we've had recently, many parts of the off-road sections of the course were boggy and waterlogged. The areas that weren't, were very muddy from previous Parkruns.

As soon as the race began I knew it was going to be a big ask to get close to my PB and do my previous training times justice. From the start, it was straight into bog and waterlogged grass and my feet quickly disappeared under mud and water. As we continued uphill the bog was replaced with mud. The hardest part of this was finding any traction. It was very difficult to get any grip every time I pushed off. I ended up doing more Moon-Walking than running. I was continuously slipping and sliding with every step. When turning corners, you had to slow right down and then you had the problems of speeding up again, which was difficult due to the lack of grip underfoot.

The Parkrun consisted of 2 laps. The first part of the lap was off-road, the second park rejoined tarmac. After a morale boosting downhill section, it was then uphill again, on to the exposed part of the course. The cold blustery wind was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. I was able to pick up some time here and completed my first lap in 7:06.  

The tarmac didn't last. It was back on mud, bog and grass for the last part of the lap. Talking to runners after the race, I found out two people lost their shoes in this part of the course. Almost all of the second mile was off-road, which I ran in a demoralising 7:42. The amount of effort I was putting in to keeping this pace seemed so much more than doing my 1 mile reps during training. It felt like I was putting so much effort in, but getting nowhere!

The 2nd lap was very much like the first lap. At least I knew where the main boggy areas were. I tried to navigate around them, rather than run straight through them, but they were so wide, I just ended up losing even more time. My last mile was 7:23.

I finished in 13th place out of 105 and 3rd in my age group. One of the runners who I finished alongside had qualified for Boston Marathon this year with a marathon PB of 3:23 (nice to meet you Slow Duck!), so it was nice knowing that even though I was much slower than I was expecting, I was in very good company.

The winner was only 1:30 ahead of me, winning in 21:25, which is a much slower winning time than other Parkrun winning times. I still really enjoyed it. Everyone was extremely friendly and it's an excellent, challenging, undulating course under normal circumstances. I think because I'd put so much pressure on obtaining a quick time, I feel very disappointed. I have no doubt if I was to run on a flatter course with no off-road sections, Id smash my PB.............

Edited: 12/01/2013 at 18:22
12/01/2013 at 18:23

...................So today's run, I can look at in two ways. Negatively, I was nowhere near my PB and still have plenty of work to do to get enough speed to aim for a 3:30 marathon. Positively, I came only 1:30mins behind the winner, running alongside a Boston Marathon qualifier on an extremely challenging course, most of which was off-road through mud and bog. I lost probably a good 30 secs per mile due to the conditions underfoot.

As I'm judged on time. I'm sitting in the more negative box at the moment. I'm certainly looking forward to getting things back on track with tomorrow's hill run.

Covered in mud, at least I had no problem getting two seats to myself on the train ride home!

Here's my run from today. I've never seen a pace chart like this before!

Edited: 12/01/2013 at 18:30
12/01/2013 at 18:26

Great news on you entering the Spitfire 20 Ady!!! Will see you there! Well, actually will see you the day before too at the training day, but will be good to have a mini boot camp reunion!!!

12/01/2013 at 18:41

Shady - I wouldn't worry too much about your time today as the conditions and course were pretty tough.  I was just behind you in 14th and set a personal worst for a parkrun - the first time that I'd gone over 23 minutes - despite being in what I consider to be reasonably decent shape to have a crack at the 3:20 barrier in April!

12/01/2013 at 18:46
Ady, don't be too dejected - there's no way you're going to pb in conditions like that! Need a nice flat firm one like the one steve did this morning! It was still a challenging session that will reap dividends. Your heart and lungs don't know about mins/mile
We will still have a plan reassessment
12/01/2013 at 22:30

Evening Ady! Sorry to hear your parkrun wasn't the speed trial you'd hoped but it sounds like the conditions were really tough. Come back and have a go at Coventry parkrun again!!

13/01/2013 at 00:28

Hello Ady: It sounds like you had a rough row to hoe today and handled the challenge quite well. It is always sunny in Paris in April, isn't it?  Keep up the great effort and you will have a new PB soon.

13/01/2013 at 09:54

Ady -  don't be so hard on yourself, you can't run your quickest in those conditions. Being 1:30 behind the winner is pretty impressive.

Reference pacing for your marathon, a lot of runners using manual lapping instead of autolap function on the Garmin.  So everytime you pass a mile marker you press the lap button, if you set one of your displays to average lap that will give you an accurate pace you are running at to the marathon course disrance.  If you forget to press at one of the mile markers you can press it at anytime and when you hit the next mile marker and press it again it will be accurate - hope that makes sense. Maybe try it at one of your races before Paris to see how you get on with it.  Just realised Paris will be in km's but the same still applies, just have to press the lap button a few more times.

My Parkrun went OK yesterday better than last one but very windy so not the time I wanted. 16 miles for me this morning.

Edited: 13/01/2013 at 09:55
13/01/2013 at 09:55

Morning all......I thought I'd catch up on recent comments before going out on my hill training session today. The sun is shining! I'd better make the most of this rare natural event!

Sarah.......I'm disappointed too not to get into York. If no new places are released then I'll see what others look interesting. In the past I've normally done an Autumn Marathon in Europe as a short break away, so I might do this again. I've always wanted to do Amsterdam and the timing of this works well. I think I should just focus on Paris without thinking of other's the enter at the moment!

Paulo........I's the initial effort of getting out in the rain that's the hardest thing to do. You have a similar half PB to mine. I did 1:40 in 2009. I'm not sure what my target is for Dorney Lake yet. I definitely want to go under 1:40. Personally, as it's flat and supposedly fast, I'd like to aim for under 1:35.

My schedule also seems similar to yours in the fact there's an easier week every 4th week, to give your body time to recover from the increases the previous 3 weeks. I really enjoy this. It feels as though you're in the eye of the storm, before getting back on it again!

Sadly no PB for me yesterday. There was little chance with the difficult course and conditions underfoot. I've sourced another Parkrun fairly close by that's flat and on footpaths/ tarmac, so if I have another one to do before Paris, I'll use this one to try and PB.

Slow Duck..........Very nice meeting you as well at the Guildford Parkrun. It's a good job I left when I did as I could have reeled off a never-ending barrage of questions regarding Comrades. I accidentally clicked on your profile and I saw you are actually planning on doing everything I've always dreamed of doing (starting with Comrades in June!). My biggest dream (much to my wife's horror!) is to run Spartathlon as well, but as I've only ever ran one ultra-marathon, I think any attempt of this is years and years away. How do you train for something like this? What would your long runs look like, training for a race like this? Has Badwater ever appealed to you too?

I have almost entered a 100mile race several times, but stopped when I realized there was no way I'd have enough time beforehand to put in a good amount of training for it. Depending on how this year goes, this could be a goal for next year! Mrs. Shady Ady has requested a baby first if I'm going to attempt anything like this, so in reality it kight be another 20 years before I have the time to train for this distance again 

Thanks for the words regarding the Parkrun yesterday. If I'm going for a PB, I might choose an easier, flatter course on tarmac or pathways next time. Then I'll have no excuses!

Alex........Spitfire should be a great warm-up for Paris. I'm looking forward to it. The terrain should be a good challenge as well. You'll probably be sick of me by the end of Sunday, after having to see me both days over the weekend!  I'll be interested to see what we will have lined up on the training day on the Saturday, if we are allowed to do a 20 miler the day after! I hope your training is going well!

Sam.......Good point. There was still a lot to get out of the run yesterday. Glad I've done enough to still have a plan assessment!


Edited: 13/01/2013 at 09:56
13/01/2013 at 10:04


RRR........I should come back to Coventry! Coventry is like  a pancake in comparison. I could use it as an excuse to come visit family! Hopefully there will be a PB still to be had before Paris for sure.

Leaping Lizard........Thanks for the nice words. I'm going to keep my head down on concentrate on passing each training session with flying colours. Hopefully by doing this, the PBs will come naturally. I'm hoping it'll be sunny in Paris.......sunny, about 10 degrees Celsius would be perfect (with a slight tailwind for the duration)!

Barry........Excellent advice regarding the lap timing on my Garmin. Makes perfect sense and it means you're planning on what to run mile by mile, rather than estimating how much further you'll be running on race day. I'll definitely give this a practice and get my Garmin set up beforehand so it's ready for race day. Even though Paris will be in kms, I'll still run the race in miles. It'll hurt my brain too much to try kms!

Good luck on your 16 miler today. I'm just off out now on my 7 mile hill training session. Still looks nice out there. Might spice things up and listen to music today as well! 

13/01/2013 at 17:44

There's no way you're going to be close to a pb in those conditions.  Parkrun courses are many and varied; that's part of their charm.  I've never run Guildford, but if I did it would be one of those that I do as an excuse to revisit a nice town.  There's loads of `fast' courses in the country.  FWIW, of the 42 courses I've run, I would say the fastest are:-

Hull (scratch)
Cardiff (scratch)
Edinburgh (scratch)
York (+5 secs)
Poole (+5 secs)
Bushy (+10 secs)
Norwich (+10 secs)

All these have the added advantage of a UKA Certificate of Course Accuracy, so count for your official Power of 10 rankings and national grading.

13/01/2013 at 19:30

Oh Ady we will sit on the negative step together!!!! experience wasn't the best either.....hills, bog, biggest puddles in the world....slippery chalk....which on the downhill is just as upsetting as on the up hill!!!! tarmac....and no hot drink at the end as we were all toooooo wet!!!!......we should commiserate over a big bar of chocolate!!!!.....OK well maybe an apple!!!!.....oh and I didnt know where the finish was so had to slow down for someone to pass me!!!....I had thought about trying guildford next but dont think I will now!!!................

13/01/2013 at 20:23

Calorie Watch! Food & Drink Diary - Friday 11th January 2013

I only work a 9 day fortnight, so every other Friday is my off day. There's no better feeling than waking up on an off Friday thinking you're working and realising you're not. Sadly Mrs. Shady Ady doesn't share this love of my off Friday's as she still has to work, so I still get up with her in the morning. The only problem with not working, is the extra time for my brain to try and trick me into snacking! I held out for the most part!

8:30am Breakfast - Fruit and Fibre cereal w/ semi-skimmed milk. Cup of tea.

11:00am - Orange, handful of pistachios, pint of water, cup of tea.

1:15pm Lunch - A slice of smoked salmon (something that I could happily eat for every meal, every single day!), chicken breast and bacon sandwich with lettuce and a small amount of light mayonnaise. Pint of water and cup of tea.

4:30pm - Cross-Training - Exercise bike for 9.2miles in 35 minutes.

6:00pm - Pork with roasted apple, onions, sweet potato, carrots on wild rice (all home-made by Mrs. Shady Ady). Possibly a larger portion than what I should have eaten! 2 pints of water.

7:00pm - Reduced Fat Yoghurt with a handful of dates, apricots and raisins. Cup of tea.

8:00pm - Revenge of the sweet tooth - found a half eaten bar of Cadbury's Caramac in the cupboard, which accidentally passed my lips.

9:00pm - Cup of Green Tea.

13/01/2013 at 20:47

Calorie Watch! Food & Drink Diary - Saturday 12th January 2013

Visiting an all you can Chinese buffet while in the middle of marathon training definitely isn't the most sensible of ideas. But after my Parkrun time, I thought this would be the perfect perk-up. I even impressed myself with my willpower over which dishes I managed to ignore!

7:30am - Breakfast - Porridge with honey. Bottle of water.

11:00am - Bowl of leftover wild rice with Boursin cheese sprinkled over the top and a lot of cayenne pepper added. I've heard from a few people now that cayenne pepper is good at improving the metabolism. 1 pint of water.

1:30pm - Lunch - Chinese All You Can Eat Buffet! - Even I'm impressed how self restrained I was here. Filled up on garlic broccoli and courgette, noodles and beef (without the black bean and oyster sauce). A tiny bowl of sweet and sour soup. I might have sneaked in a duck pancake as well. But no prawn crackers, sweet and sour chicken or spring rolls! A couple of glasses of diet coke.

4:30pm - Cup of tea. A pint of blackcurrant squash. Handful of pistachio nuts.

7:00pm - Dinner-  Yogurt with handful of raisins, dates and apricots. Tiny bag of Cadbury's Buttons. Pint of water. Cup of tea.

9:00pm. More tea!

13/01/2013 at 20:54

Day 28 - Asics Target 26.2 Paris Marathon Training (13/01/13)

Target: 7 miles steady on hilly course (8:00 - 8:30m/m). Includes 2 mile w-up run to hill then 3 miles worth of steady effort on the 1-mile long hilly strip, and 2 miles home.

Actual: 7.49miles on hilly course @ 7:48m/m. Plus 3.5miles on exercise bike for c/down (in 11mins) and stretching (5 mins).

Mile Splits: 1st: 7:41m/m. 2nd: 7:53m/m. 3rd: 7:53m/m. 4th: 7:49m/m. 5th: 7:54m/m. 6th: 7:41m/m. 7th: 7:52

What a difference a day makes!

After yesterday's run, I was definitely feeling sorry for myself and was under the impression I was so far from where I need to currently be. After today's run, I'm in a much better mood. I actually feel if I could have carried on today's training session up to half marathon distance, I could have ended up being pretty close to my half marathon PB. It's a funny old thing this marathon training!

I got off to a much quicker start than what was needed. I think part of it was wiping away the cobwebs in my head from yesterday. It was also quite chilly, which meant I found myself running quicker in order to warm up.

Apart from a few undulations and a nice downhill, the first two miles are pretty easy. From here, there is about a mile section that involves a long steady climb of about half a mile and then a steeper hill approximately 150metres in length. This is where I based my hill training. Unfortunately, I haven't found anywhere else close by that offers a better alternative.

I did this section four times, which accounted for the extra half mile. If I had stuck to 7 miles, it would have meant only running up and down the steep section once. As this was a hilly training session, I thought only doing this once would have been the easy way out. Instead I ran the extra half mile to fit it in.

I was quicker on every mile split than what I needed to be (sorry Sam!). I think the mistake I made was exactly the same as the last hill session I did. I increased the effort I was putting in on the uphill sections to maintain a speed of 8:00m/m. Obviously once the downhill sections came afterwards, it meant I went much quicker than what was needed and I struggled to slow down enough to stay at 8:00m/m.  I do need to learn to accept on the uphill sections that when I look at my watch and see 8:25m/m showing, it shouldn't be something to be alarmed at, as I will make that time up on the downhill parts.

I found it fairly easy to maintain this speed for the duration of the training session. To make it harder I could have just ran up and down the steep hill section over and over again. Maybe next time I'll do this, but I thought the variety of the longer steady hills and steeper hills was better variety and more realistic to a race situation. 

With Mrs. Shady Ady out shopping and me as usual forgetting to take my keys, I did a further cool down on the exercise bike in the gym until she returned and I sheepishly made my way to our apartment!

After yesterday, today's session was the perfect tonic for starting week 5.

Here's my run from today:

Erm......the Garmin website is currently down for maintenance at the moment, so I'll paste this in a separate message when it's back up and running. 

Edited: 13/01/2013 at 20:58
13/01/2013 at 21:14

Week 4 Asics Target 26.2 Paris Marathon Training Round-up (W/ Ending 13/01/13):


Target: Rest Day. Actual: Rest Day


Target: 5 x 1 miles at 7.20-7.30 pace with 2.5 minute recovery plus 2 mile w-up/plus short c-down (8 miles)

Actual: 2 mile w/up, 5 x 1 miles at 7.20-7.30 (ish!) with 2.5 minute recovery (again, ish!), plus 1 mile c/down. Total mileage: 9.26 miles

5x1 mile splits: 1st mile @ 7:05. 2nd mile @ 7:13. 3rd mile @ 6:56. 4th mile @ 7:11. 5th mile @ 7:03


Target: 5 miles comfortable at 8:30-9:20

Actual: 5.08 miles comfortable at 8:21m/m in 42:28

Mile splits: 1st mile @ 8:28. 2nd mile @ 8:24. 3rd mile @ 8:26. 4th mile @ 8:22. 5th mile @ 8:15


Target: 4 mile jog at 9:30-10.15m/m plus 3x Acceleration strides

Actual: 4.28 miles @ 9:26m/m including 4 mile jog and 4x Acceleration strides.

Mile splits: 1st mile @ 9:32. 2nd mile @ 9:25. 3rd mile @ 9:24. 4th mile @ 9:30.


Target: Rest Day or Cross-Training

Actual: 9.2miles on exercise bike in 35 mins on stamina setting.


Target: Parkrun 5km, plus 1.5 mile w/up & c/down

Actual: Parkrun 5km in 22.59 (23:00 official) plus 1.5 mile w/up (@ 8:30m/m) & c/down (9:00m/m). Total: 6.11miles


Target: 7 miles steady on hilly course (8:00 - 8:30m/m). Includes 2 mile w-up run to hill then 3 miles worth of steady effort on the 1-mile long hilly strip, and 2 miles home.

Actual: 7.49miles on hilly course @ 7:48m/m. Plus 3.5miles on exercise bike for c/down (in 11mins) and stretching (5 mins).

Mile Splits: 1st: 7:41m/m. 2nd: 7:53m/m. 3rd: 7:53m/m. 4th: 7:49m/m. 5th: 7:54m/m. 6th: 7:41m/m. 7th: 7:52

MILEAGE: Target: 30mi Actual: 32.22mi

Another week where I was very happy with how my training has progressed. I might have been disappointed initially with my Parkrun time, but taking everything into consideration, it was a difficult course where I finished only 1:30 behind the winner and in 13th place.

The day before this Paris Marathon training started I asked Mrs. Shady Ady to take a photo of me in my new Asics lycra. I looked back at this photo, with my atomic bomb muffin top clearly on show. I asked her to take another 4 weeks on. Comparing the two photos already shows a remarkable improvement. Hopefully in another 4 weeks time, I will finally look like something that resembles a long distance runner!

13/01/2013 at 21:29
Hi Ady - good to hear your spirits are up again. The parkrun is history and from the sounds of things you were really up against it.

I was thinking about your question at the end of last week about pacing. I've had the same problem. Having run London 3 times and like you tried so hard to follow the racing line I still did a good portion of a mile extra.

Despite this I haven't adjusted my pace to compensate for this or any of the other kinds of delays that you mentioned. Seems kind of stupid really because Its obvious that if you run 8mm you're not going to make your target.

So I reckon you are right - you'd have to run under 8mm just to make sure. It would be interested to hear whether Sam agrees, although I can't see any alternative for a big city marathon.

PS - great to hear you're doing the Spitfire. I just entered too so I'll see you there!
13/01/2013 at 21:52

Just about to sign off for the night. I'll catch up with mesages I haven't had the chance to reply to tomorrow and hopefully have another weight loss week to report 

Sam..........What is the plan for tomorrow? On the original revised plan you sent, tomorrow is a 4 mile recovery jog. Is this still the same? I'll plan on doing this unless I hear any differently. I hope you had a good weekend 

14/01/2013 at 13:10

Hi Ady, sorry I missed your question last night. Very long day and didn't get back from London until 10.30ish...

I've 'revamped' the paces based on how things have gone the first four weeks, and have also adjusted the volume a little bit. I've posted the next four weeks below - but as ever, folks, this is not set in concrete 

I feel that your training is going really well. I'd still like to see what you can do under decent race conditions in a shorter race though.  We've got Dorney race your pace coming up in week 9 and there's a parkrun in week 8 which perhaps you can find a more forgiving location for  

I've swapped long runs around to reflect the fact that we have a training day in week 6 too. 

Jog (Recovery) = 9.20 to 10 mins per mile

Comfortable (Easy) = 8.10-9.10

Steady = 7.35-8

Fast (Tempo) = 7.20-7.35 (Or for intervals 7.05-7.15)

Speedwork: pace depending on distance

Week 5 w/c 14th January
Monday 4 MILE JOG
Tuesday 5 miles FAST (Suggest structuring this as 1 mile easy, 3.5 miles FAST, 1 mile easy)
Wednesday REST or low impact cross training
Thursday Intervals: 2 MILE COMFORTABLE then 3 x acceleration strides then 5 x 800m (or 3 mins) at 6.30-6.50 pace with 3 min jogs in between each. 1 MILE COMFORTABLE (6.5 MILES)
Friday Rest
Saturday 15.5 MILES PROGRESSION RUN: 5 @8.50, 5 @8.25, 5 @8.00 (1/2 MILE TO GET UP TO 8.50)

Week 6 w/c 21st January
Monday REST or non-impact cross training
Friday REST
Sunday 16 MILES COMFORTABLE OFF-ROAD (no need to be on extreme terrain but ideally not tarmac/concrete)

Week 7 w/c 28th January
Monday REST
Tuesday 2 MILE EASY then 3 x acceleration strides then 6 x 800M (or 3 mins) at 6.30-6.50 pace with 3 min jogs in between each. 1 MILE EASY (7 MILES)
Wednesday 5 mile comfortable
Friday 4 mile jog
Saturday REST or low impact cross training

Sunday LONG RUN 17 MILES comfortable. Last 3 miles below 8.10 pace.

Week 8 w/c 4th February
Monday 3 MILE recovery jog + 3 ACCELERATION STRIDES
Wednesday Rest or low impact cross training
Thursday 6 miles steady
Friday Rest

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