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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24/01/2013 at 21:25

Day 39 - Asics Target 26.2 Paris Marathon Training (24/01/13)

Target: 5 MILES STEADY @ 7.35-8m/m

Actual: 5.16miles in 38:59 @ 7:33m/m

Splits: 1st mile @ 7:38m/m. 2nd mile @ 7:34m/m. 3rd mile @ 7:32m/m. 4th mile @ 7:39m/m. 5th mile @ 7:34m/m

I was slightly apprehensive about today's training session. Since my paces were upgraded at the end of week 4, this was the first time I've had to keep a speed approaching 7:30m/m in my training. I can't even remember the last time before this when I ran at such speed for over 5 miles.

Freezing as usual, it took a good 2 miles to get up to feeling like I was coping well with the pace. I think this was mainly down to the fact most of the pavement was still covered in snow, and the increase in temperature had changed it from packed, to feeling like running on chip pan oil at times.

During this time, all kinds of negative thoughts were running through my head. If I was struggling to maintain this pace for 2 miles, what chance do I have doing similar for 24 more? But once the first 2 miles were completed, it was as if a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders. For the final three miles I didn't have a problem keeping to the lower end of my pacing guideline. I also felt I had at least one, if not two gears more I could have cranked up to increase my speed.

Alongside running on the slippery ice and snow yet again, I think it was just a case of my legs and body taking time to warm up and become adjusted to the drop in temperature from my warm, cosy office to the chilling easterly (or is that westerly? I should know this considering I studied Geography!) winds and coldness.

The course was slightly undulating too, and as I felt comfortable with the last three miles, I can't wait to see what I can do at Human Races' Dorney Lake Race Your Pace Half Marathon next month. This should be pancake flat without any snowy surfaces and I'd love to see my current PB of 1hr40mins lowered to 1hr 35mins.

I'm sure I will be reprimanded, but as a meeting before lunch over ran, it meant my lunch break was shortened and it was either sacrificing a shower or some of my stretching. Stretching lost this battle, and I only managed 2 minutes instead of the usual 10 or so.

With this being my last run before the next training day with the other Asics Target 26.2 runners and Sam, I can focus now on putting in a good performance here on Saturday.

Here's today's run:

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/265597425

24/01/2013 at 23:28

Well done Ady - I think it's great that you felt comfortable with the pace and even better that you had some more gears you could utilise. I'm a bit jealous now!

Is it this weekend that you meet the others?

2 mins stretching - tut, tut, disgraceful! 

25/01/2013 at 00:09
have fun on saturday, cant wait to see what you all get up to.
25/01/2013 at 10:38
Apologies for falling behind a little with my writing. It's been a busy week. Should get back on top of things later today.

First though I have my BUPA health assessment. Ill be interested to see what results come from this!
25/01/2013 at 14:51

whats inluded in a BUPA health assessment?

25/01/2013 at 18:10

Evening Ady!

Sounds like your training's going really well! Glad you're enjoying it all and I'll see you tomorrow!

My BUPA assessment isn't until the 13th February so ages away! Can't wait to find out what the results are!

25/01/2013 at 18:38

Day 40 - Asics Target 26.2 Paris Marathon Training (25/01/13)

Target: Rest Day

Actual: BUPA Fitness Assessment (including 10mins on exercise bike at various speeds and resistance)

I had big plans to get a lot accomplished today and still have time for a yoga workout, even though it's my rest day. Probably for the best, the time for this never materialised and instead all I managed was to complete my BUPA Fitness Assessment in Central London. Considering today is the start of the weekend for me, I think just making this early morning appointment is a success in itself!

As part of winning this Asics 26.2 competition, we were all given a free BUPA Fitness Assessment. Performed by a health adviser , it takes around an hour to complete and includes the following tests:

- resting blood pressure and pulse readings.

- lung function assessment.

- body composition analysis (BMI, waist to height ratio, body fat percentage, lean mass calculation, basal metabolic rate calculation).

- VO2 max score (via gas analysis).

- anaerobic threshold.

- cardiovascular efficiency during exercise.

- metabolic efficiency during exercise.

- respiratory efficiency during exercise.

- strength and flexibility assessment.

I'm out of breath just writing all of that!

The fitness test involved 10 minutes on an exercise bike, increasing the wattage resistance every 2 minutes while increasing reps per minute until reaching 85% maximum heart rate. From this, an array of performance indicators are found.

Before this though I faced the small indignity of getting near naked for weight and height measurements. I've always said I'm 5ft 7". I swear I was even taller than this in my early twenties, but according to my height measurement today, I'm less than 5ft 5". I'm devastated. I must have been slouching. If I wasn't rushed for time, I would have demanded a re-measurement! I need to get back over to North Korea, which I think is the only place left in the world where I can look down on someone!

My weight measurements proved equally confusing. I know I'm still tubby around the waist, but I was happy with my 157lb reading, which means I've lost approx. 6lbs in 6 weeks. My BMI puts me just on the upper edge of average. My body fat percentage is below average (which is confusing as I'm still technically overweight!) and my waist to height ratio shows serious action is immediately needed! What I gather from this apart from being shorter than I ever realised, is that my mid-rift is the only place I put weight on. I could have told you this from taking one look at my reflection in the mirror!

The 10 minutes on the exercise bike was nowhere near as difficult as I was expecting. The doctor observing had ran Paris last year and we talked about this and also the 15 Comrades he has done in the past. Unfortunately as I had a mouthpiece in to monitor my breathing composition and a nose piece stopping my using my nose, this was very much a one way conversation for large periods!

.............................

25/01/2013 at 18:39

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The results from this I was extremely happy with. My VO2 max puts me in almost the top 10% of males. My lung capacity is above normal, as is the efficiency of my heart in delivering oxygen.

Once this test was done, it was followed by strength and flexibility test. As I struggle to sit cross-legged without feeling my thighs burning, I had a feeling my flexibility would be below average. It was. I was more shocked with my strength though, which used a grip test. My thumb wrestling skills are world renowned so I couldn't believe it was saying my grip strength was below average. Not quite sure how that works!

A full set of my results will be sent next week, which I'll be able to analyse until my heart's content! I've never had a fitness assessment before and after my experience, I'd definitely recommend having one. Very informative indeed. I've had the misfortune of running past people during races who have stopped breathing and are being resuscitated. It's a sobering experience to see this, so knowing there are no obvious heart problems or similar before embarking on marathon training helps put my mind at ease (and more importantly, Mrs. Shady Ady!).

Afterwards I made a return trip to the Asics Flagship Store to get a second pair of running trainers, going with the new model of the Cumulus to go with my current Cumulus pair. I have never known customer service like what I received at the Asics Flagship Store. Not only did I receive friendly smiles and small talk, but two two staff members (who remembered me from the Store day before Christmas!) commented on how much impressed they were with the weight I'd lost since they saw me last. I might have purchased extra thanks to this flattery!

I  have a 6am train to catch tomorrow in order to get up to Birmingham for tomorrow's training day on time, so I think it'll be an early night for me tonight! 

25/01/2013 at 18:52

Calorie Watch! Food & Drink Diary – Wednesday 23rd January 2013

A bit of déjà vu with my lunch and dinner. You might have guessed I had a craving for poultry today!

6:50am - Breakfast - Fruit and Fibre w/ semi-skimmed milk. Glass of chocolate milk

8:45am – Cup of tea, bottle of water.

10:30am – banana, cup of tea, bottle of water

12:00pm - 4 mile recovery jog (see above for full details)

1:00pm – Lunch – Sainsbury's Fresh Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Rice and Salad, Bottle of water.

2:00pm - bottle of water, cup of tea.

4:30pm - Apple, cup of tea and bottle of water.

7:00pm – Dinner - Grilled chicken, spicy rice, sweetcorn and peas.

9:00pm – Cup of tea with 2 lemon shortbread biscuits (extremely thin and easily eaten in just the one mouthful - not that I'm trying to justify this treat!).

25/01/2013 at 19:24

Calorie Watch! Food & Drink Diary – Thursday 24th January 2013

I've done well with cravings so far, but yesterday these were higher than they have been in a long, long time. I blame an extra stressful day at work making my body crave comfort food! It doesn't help that I have to walk past several fast-food outlets on my walk home. I was a good boy though, and didn't give in to any of these temptations!

6:50am - Breakfast - Fruit and Fibre w/ semi-skimmed milk. Glass of chocolate milk

8:00am – Cup of tea, bottle of water.

10:45am – banana, cup of tea, bottle of water

12:15pm - 4 mile steady run (see above for full details)

1:15pm – Lunch – Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Moroccan Couscous (I'm not sure what constitutes couscous to be called luxury - I'm guessing the addition of raisins?), bottle of water.

2:00pm - bottle of water, cup of tea.

4:00pm - Apple, cup of tea and bottle of water. It took me a good thirty minutes to eat the apple, as it had the same sourness as sucking on a lemon. I hope the rest of the bag aren't the same as this one!)

8:00pm – Dinner - Grilled chicken (leftover from the previous day's dinner) with beetroot and feta salad. Pint of blackcurrant squash .

9:00pm – Cup of tea. No third snack today as I ate later than normal.

25/01/2013 at 19:26

Shady -  Good effort on your 5  miles steady and encouraging results from the fitness test. Enjoy your day out in Birmingham.

25/01/2013 at 19:50

Sarah........Hey, how are you? My legs weren't aching that much after the leg strengthening workout DVD, which just makes me think I was somehow doing it wrong. I don't feel like I've done enough of a workout unless there's some degree of aching or pain afterwards!

I'm very impressed with your 4 hours of toilet free time. I struggle to do that at night, let alone during the day. When I was travelling I used to hate long distance bus journeys as I had to act like a normal human being and only got to use the toilet once or twice for an eight hour journey. I'd purposefully dehydrate myself so there wouldn't be any messy incidents. I remember one guy who was sitting next to me while going from Kisumu to Nairobi in Kenya. He needed to go to the toilet, but the bus driver wouldn't stop. He ended up wetting himself and then being made to get off the bus with his belongings! I never want to be that man!

I still haven't managed to cook the Thai food I've wanted to. I want to do a panang curry and then sticky rice and mango for dessert. Hopefully I'll get the chance to do this on Sunday!

Hopefully my write up of today's activities helps to explain what the BUPA assessment was all about. I don't think it's needed regularly, but it very informative to see how I fared on the important indicators of fitness. I'd be tempted to do one in a year if I continue with the improvements made in my training and diet to see how far I've come in that time. I'd have to see how much it costs first!

Malcs.........Kick Off you say? It seems most male's days of University is classified by the playing of one football computer game or another. Hopefully the work wont lad to you going AWOL for too long!

It is this weekend that we meet up again. It's come around very quickly indeed. Off to Birmingham tomorrow. I can assure you that on the return journey back south past the Watford Gap, there won't be any Burger King pig-outs like you witnessed last time.

Ruth...........I'll remember to think about immunity when focusing on my weight loss. I normally don't suffer that often from illness, so if I do start, I'll know it's my diet that could possibly be causing this.

I've never used any low fat foods that contain sweeteners, so my only intake is from the little I use for my tea. Looking forward to seeing you too tomorrow ( and that black book of yours that contains all the mistakes I've made with my diet so far!).  

RRR..........Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow as well. Should get to Birmingham New Street around 8:50am. It looks like I'll be on the same train as Mel. Safety in numbers! I'm sure your BUPA results will be exceptionally good!

Barry.........Thanks. I was happy with my steady and looking forward to the race situations where I can push myself to see exactly what I'm capable of. The negative parts of the fitness test were what I expected but the positive parts were better than I thought they would be, so all in all it was better than I'd expected. Still plenty of room for improvements to be made though.

25/01/2013 at 23:53
Aw, that poor guy, that's awful, he must have felt so embarrassed as well as having a long walk home. It's probably not very safe to be thrown out on the streets either.

I can remember crying on the way to Cornwall when I was a child. I wanted to go to the toilet but my dad wouldn't stop as we had only just stopped 1-2 hours earlier. I was convinced that my bladder was going to burst!

Luckily most public transport has toilets on them now. I know where all the best loos are around sheffield and york just incase I have to spend a penny whilst out.

Your BUPA health check sounds amazing. Some of the things like you said you can work out for yourself but other things like calculating your VO2 max is impossible and would be interesting to find out. Congrats on your low body fat level and loosing that amount of weight already. By the time it comes around to Paris marathon I'm sure your other parameters will be much better. It's exciting to know that you have above average VO2 max, lung capacity and oxygen delivery.

I fancy having mine checked now....I'm curious, although I would be gutted if they told me I was shorter than I thought, as I'm already on the short side (5ft3)
25/01/2013 at 23:57
Mmm panang curry sounds nice....you've got me thinking about cooking something thai this weekend now too...I might opt for a green curry but we will see.

How's the snow where you are? It's coming down heavy and settling quite thick here. Hope you manage to get to boot camp ok and you have a good day.
26/01/2013 at 19:59

Finally back home after the first Birmingham Training Day of the schedule. Still buzzing from a successful, rewarding and educational day. As always, it was nice to see the rest of the Asics Target 26.2 team, runners and coaches. 

More excellent advice from Sam, Steve, Ruth and Sarah and I'm now definitely looking to up the anti to the next level. 

As it's Saturday evening and I haven't seen Mrs. Shady Ady all day, I'm going to have to cut this message short and get ready for 'date night'! This normally means an evening free of running talk, a rom-com, listening to every word my other half says and providing the appropriate responses. 

Normal service should be resumed tomorrow when I'll catch up on today's post! 

26/01/2013 at 22:21

Shady -  I can sort of understand a evening without running talk, my OH switches off when  I start talking paces and splits, but an evening listening to every word. or is the appropriate response a nod at the right time while thinking about tomorrow's run.

27/01/2013 at 12:00

Day 41 - Asics Target 26.2 Paris Marathon Training (26/01/13)

Target: TRAINING DAY – MILE WINDERS SESSION (7ISH TOTAL)

Actual: Training Day - 5 x 0.75 Mile Winders plus w/up and c/down (approx 5.5 miles)

0.75 mile splits: 1st 0.75 @ 8:05m/m. 2nd 0.75 @ 7:48m/m. 3rd 0.75 @ 7:27m/m 4th 0.75 @ 7:04m/m. 5th @ 6:36m/m.

Today was Birmingham training day. It was my first chance to meet up with Sam in person and also other members of Asics 26.6 team.

I debated travelling up the night before to Birmingham and staying in a hotel, but my stinginess won over and I was up hours before dawn even contemplated waking up. Snow has disappeared down South but this wasn't the case in Birmingham The canal towpath, were we were supposed to run today's session was an ice rink. The track at Birmingham University was still covered with several inches of snow. The only place safe enough to run was a 0.75 mile road that looped around the University campus. It seemed half the University also had the same idea to use this as well. We were in good company.

Today's session felt like it was over before it began. The idea was to set off at marathon pace and then increase the speed of our 0.75 mile loops by around 10 seconds each time. With my maths skills letting me down slightly, I decided on increasing my mile speed by 15 seconds each lap. Each of the five runners started at different times, the slowest first and the quickest last. The idea being that we would all cross the finish line at the same time. Each lap started every 9 minutes, so the quicker you finished the lap, the more time you had to recover before the next lap started.

It was an excellent session and good practice to try and focus only on my time and not worry what other people were doing. It's easy to see someone in your sights and pick up the speed to catch them up. Or, when a gaggle of first year University student females ease pass you, you almost feel obliged to pick up the pace, embarrassed at being so easily overtaken. This is what I'll need to do in Paris, using almost tunnel vision and sticking to my own game plan.

I actually found this session much easier than I expected. I don't know if this was down to the occasion of the watching coaches, or having our photos continuously taken. It might have just been down to the fact my performances have improved since starting training 6 weeks ago. I was delighted with how comfortable I felt, even on the 5th lap and had even slowed down slightly towards the end of the lap as I knew I was going a bit too quick. I would have loved to have done another 2 laps to see if I could have continued this pace increase and attempt to run a lap at under 6 minute mile pace, something I've never come close at doing before.

From memory, the quickest I've ever ran a mile in a race of 5km or more is 6.38m/m. The fact I was comfortable on my 5th lap at 6.36m/m and know I could have pushed this closer to 6.00m/m was a confident feeling. The course was slightly undulating as well, but excellent footing. I hope I can replicate this at my next 5km Parkrun in 2 weeks time. I plan to do the Crane Park Parkrun, as this seems to be the best course nearby that can offer me the chance of a PB....................... 

27/01/2013 at 12:01

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Once we were showered and changed we then had our individual sessions with our coach (Sam), nutritionist (Ruth) and physiotherapist (Sarah).

For the first time, I actually felt like a proper athlete (whether I look like one, I'll leave that to the imagination!).

I'm very happy with the target time of 1hr 36mins I've been given for my Human Race Dorney Lake Race Your Pace Half Marathon in 3 weeks time. The average mile pace of 7.20 should definitely be accomplishable and this would give me a new PB by 4 minutes.

I've also been asked to practice carb-loading before this half marathon as a practice for Paris. I've always  struggled in latter stages of a marathon in holding my pace and keeping it similar to the first half. This could possibly be down to my fuelling strategy, not only on the day and during the race, but also in the days leading up the race. I've never really changed my diet in the days leading up to a race, only from the evening before, so I'm excited to put this plan into action.

It's hard to believe that in almost 10 years of running, I've never had a massage or visited a physiotherapist once. I've had a couple of small niggles recently with shin splints and 'runners knee'. I was blown away by how easily Sarah was able to diagnose the problem. The shin splints were mainly down to the fact (I hope I've remembered all this correctly) I'd been running on snow this week and due to the slippery nature of running on this, it had affected my running style and I think had also meant I was tensing up more when my foot landed. Sarah helped relieve this pain by creating more pain, working to loosen the muscles affected. Painful as it was, it was amazing to feel my muscles actually loosening and the pain subsiding. I'm already a physiotherapist convert and can't wait for my next session!

My knee problem, although causing no problem in the last couple of weeks, was something that still worried me at the back of my mind. This was mainly thanks to that trusted friend Google. Doing a search for knee pain had already brought up pages and pages of stories of runners who had been out injured for months. The issues I had been having was down to having extremely tight hip flexors, especially on my left leg, which form-wise, isn't as efficient as my right leg. I could also do with getting a shoe offering more stability for my long runs due to this. Gutted I went out and bought a new pair of the neutral Asics Cumulus shoe, just a day before. These should still be fine for my shorter distance though!

I now have a few stretches to do to ease this pain, which I'm sure Mrs. Shady Ady will enjoy helping with. She can watch me suffer, knowing she can increase this suffering at any time she wants! I've got to be a good boy from now on! I've also been prescribed a foam roller, something that has been mentioned many times before on this forum and something I haven't managed to get around to buying.  

All in all, it was an excellent day of professional guidance, help and advice and I can't wait for the next training day in March, where in Ruth's own words, she hopes to see me "without the gut!". That's something I can promise! 

As the Garmin website is currently down for maintenance, I'll add the workout later today.

27/01/2013 at 14:25

Sounds like you've had a good few days with the bupa fitness test and training day in Birmingham. Think i'd like the Bupa tests, I love to see stats and to be able to track progress.  I got myself a foam roller towards the end of last year....OUCH!  The 1st few times I used it, it was agony.  Stick with it though as eventually the pain eases and you can feel and muscle tension getting rolled out.

27/01/2013 at 18:55

It was great to see you Ady and to have a proper chat, face to face! I cannot BELIEVE you have never had a massage or physio session! I'm something of an addict 

I recommend scheduling in a sports massage once a month for the remainder of Paris training, to keep on top of things - and with the foam roller for DIY in between.

Felt quite tired after yesterday's endeavours (yeah, I know I didn't do the winders!) but ran a PB today at Canterbury 10, which was quite a surprise! 71.23. Very pleasing. And bumped into DS2, which was nice!

Hope today's long run went OK - and you've got a rest day to get over the weekend tomorrow

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