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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08/02/2013 at 10:27

What a difference a day makes.....and a spot of sun. I woke this morning to not only find blazing sun piercing through the bedroom curtains, but all of my ailments from the past two days miraculously disappeared. It just goes to show what the power of rest can do!

I should now be able to catch up with everything on here before attempting to get back into this running malarkey!

Sarah..........I feel much better now thanks. As I went back to work yesterday, I really wanted to do a small run when I got home in the evening. Mrs. Shady Ady made me see sense though and I opted for an early night instead. I was absolutely shattered and I probably should have taken yesterday off work as well. Yet again my better half was right! Like you say, I must have been ready for an easier week without even realising it. I'm glad this illness fell on an easier week though and not one with high mileage. It makes me feel like I haven't lost too much ground.

Here is my current schedule next week, leading up to my half a week tomorrow. This is probably still open to discussion and confirmation from Sam though, so hopefully I won't get into trouble for posting this.

Week 9 w/c 11th February
Thursday 4 MILE STEADY plus 3 accel strides
Friday: REST
Sunday 4 MILE JOG

I think basically this has been a practice taper ready for Paris, although obviously a lot shorter. I'm sure it will work in your benefit to only run twice before race day. I remember in the first few marathons I ran, I would only do a couple of miles in the week leading up to the more than this! I certainly couldn't cope with this few miles now.

Doing 4 20 milers before VLM should put you in a very confident position and seems to be the average. I'm happy with what Sam has prescribed for me - two 20 milers. I would have been happy with whatever Sam had planned to be honest. For a start on this forum there was a lot of debate whether 2 would be enough, with many runners doing exactly the same as you.

At first I wished I had more, but after seeing my training plan, I think two is a god amount for me, especially coming from a lower marathon training mileage base than others (about 30m per week). I still feel like I have some of the stamina in my legs from my marathon and ultra training in the last third of 2012, so I'm not sure whether it would make any difference, other than mentally if I was given more.

I use to train with somebody who's philosophy was that if you are running 26 miles in a race, you should run that distance and more in training to be fully ready. I think he went up to 28 miles before his taper. This seems a little too much in my eyes.

I haven't tried my foam roller yet. I'm still waiting for it to arrive. I think it should be here tomorrow as I received an email yesterday saying it had been finally dispatched. I went for the Trigger Point TPT-GRDB Grid in the end. I'll let you know how I get on with it. Hopefully I'll have my first try on Sunday after my semi-long run.

Thanks for keeping your toes and fingers crossed. You're too kind! Hopefully I won't let you down! 

08/02/2013 at 10:34

Malcs......I did follow your words, and decided to take an extra rest day, although if I'd come home last night and my wife wasn't around, I would have done exactly what you did and probably made things worse. It's weird how your mind works. I know I'm not feeling 100%, but somehow I still think going out and exerting stress on my ill body will somehow not affect it at all! 

Malcs wrote (see)

Ady - sorry to hear you've caught a bug. I really hope you fight it off quickly and that it doesn't develop into what I had.

Definitely take it easy and don't be tempted to run until you're feeling 100%. I made that mistake and it cost me another 4 days.

PS. The aching after the chin ups is a good sign that you've put in the necessary work to cause a change in the muscles. Keep it up and you'll be looking like Arnie in no time  

To be honest, I'll just settle to get rid of the cleavage before embarking on getting such masculine features!  

I was going to attempt a marathon session of chin-ups (which for is 5, and would take possibly the time it takes me to run 26.2 miles to complete), but was scared off by Sarahs words earlier. Well, it was more to do with the fact I was ordered by Mrs. Shady Ady to rest. It's not hard to see who wears the trouser in this household!  I need to get back on the chin-up bar to regain my place in the pecking order!

08/02/2013 at 10:59

Hey Sarah Asics Pro Team (just to distinguish from the other Sarah!). I completely agree that this much pain and aching is counter-productive at this stage of my training.

I can definitely see what you are saying regarding introducing new strength work. This was once a regular thing, but not in the last few months, which explains why I was aching so much afterwards.

I was just trying to add some variety in to my cross-training, as so far I've spent a lot of time on the exercise bike. I thought a little leg strengthening would have more benefits, but if it's going to cause so much aching, then there is the chance of this having a negative impact on my running sessions.

The legs and back session I did was quite strenuous and fast-paced, so if I do attempt this again, I'll ignore the instructor and take it at a much more steadier pace. If I still ache as much afterwards, then I'll cut it out completely. After doing extra stretching for the past few days, I'm now ache free, but that's three days when I was suffering from this workout.

What do you mean by the lower level core exercises? With my pilates I do, I'm already doing some core exercises (like the bridge and plank).

The knee is feeling much better thanks!


SamMurphyRuns wrote (see)

Poor Shady Achey Ady!

That's exactly how I've been describing myself to my wife for the past two days. Sadly I can't do this anymore as she has caught what I've had and is now lying in bed wanting sympathy. I suppose it's only fair I give her some!

I do think attempting 6:20m/m at tomorrow's Parkrun might be a little rash. I was kind of basing this on my 800m intervals and the last 0.75mile I did on training day. I thought maybe I would be able to keep this going for the first mile, mile and a half at a push, and then struggle though the latter stage. I was trying to pick a pace that was just under a 20 min 5km to see how long I could sustain this for. I have a sneaky suspicion that my recent training sessions have given me unrealistic confidence of what I'm currently able to achieve.....but it's better to be over confident than not at all.

I'll do exactly as you suggest.......I'll start around 6:50m/m pace and then re-evaluate from there after the first mile. If I still feel really good, then I'll go faster. I love my progressive runs, so I could use this 5km as a progressive run.

I'm feeling much better today and will go out on a run later to see how I'm feeling. If I still feel a little weak, then I'll take it easy. I certainly don't want to have to think of more excuses to write about tomorrow if I don't get a new PB! 

08/02/2013 at 11:58

Shady - Ady

Glad you are feeling better.

Just something to consider for your "dress rehearsal" next weekend is timing of breakfast. I spoke with runner’s world to get an idea of when you are likely to be leaving hotel on 7th April (morning of Paris marathon just in case you forgot!). This is probably going to be around 7am for your 8.45am start so perhaps you will need to be at breakfast for 6am so that this can be relaxed meal. So for your  half next weekend which starts at 10am perhaps you want to consider also sitting down to having breakfast at 2hr 45 mins but this allows a much more civilised time of  7.15pm! All snacks after this should be same as for Paris.




08/02/2013 at 13:36

Brolish.......I feel much better now thanks. Just got back from my first run in three days and I don't think there were any issues at all. So hopefully it'll be business as normal from now on. It's a shame you aren't doing Spitfire. I can certainly see your reasoning behind doing a quicker 10k instead.

Malcs.......Maybe it's not a case of stopping all strength training, but a case of not doing too much strength work so that it then starts to affect your running. When I ran on Tuesday after doing my strength training the evening before it felt as though someone full of lust had grabbed each bum cheek has hard as they could and just wouldn't let go.............this certainly made my running session much harder. Where as if I'd done a shorter strength workout on my legs, maybe the aches wouldn't have affected my running at all? It does sound like there's a line you shouldn't cross.........a line that I ran and jumped straight over!

Sarah.........I can't say I've ran many 10 mile races before. I think just the one. Do you find it makes a difference to your speed and stamina when comparing doing a 10 mile race or  a half marathon?

At the moment the marathon distance is my favourite, but I'd be interested to see what difference I'd get in my half marathon times if I was to train for this independently. All the half marathons I've ran have always been in the build up to a marathon, so it's never been my sole focus. I can also see me doing more 5km Parkruns this year as well. I'm not sure I'll be breaking 20 minutes before you though!

Wiggly Worm......thanks for your comment. Good luck in your first marathon. Are you going for a specific time? Which marathon are you doing?

I'm glad I'm not the only one who struggles to walk and sit down without making weird sounds!

Like you, I was also hoping to do one or two strength sessions per week on top of my running. It could just have hurt more for me, because I haven't done this workout for such a long time. I'm tempted to try it again next week (due to next week being more of a taper week), but holding back a little to see if I struggle again. Or, I will just stick to pilates which I know I'll be ok with.

Good luck with your training and first marathon!

08/02/2013 at 13:54
RUTH MCKEAN wrote (see)

Shady - Ady

Glad you are feeling better.

Just something to consider for your "dress rehearsal" next weekend is timing of breakfast. I spoke with runner’s world to get an idea of when you are likely to be leaving hotel on 7th April (morning of Paris marathon just in case you forgot!). This is probably going to be around 7am for your 8.45am start so perhaps you will need to be at breakfast for 6am so that this can be relaxed meal. So for your  half next weekend which starts at 10am perhaps you want to consider also sitting down to having breakfast at 2hr 45 mins but this allows a much more civilised time of  7.15pm! All snacks after this should be same as for Paris.


Hey Ruth.........

I will try my best to have a full dress rehearsal next Saturday during the half marathon, ready for Paris. I'll definitely make sure all snacks are exactly the same as Paris. Do you have any snacks you can recommend for race day? I'm happy with popping jelly babies in the build up?

The only problem I can see, is that I might struggle to eat breakfast at 7:15am. I will need to catch a train to Windsor and looking at the train times, I will have to catch a 7:30 train to make it on time, maybe even 7am. Therefore I'll have to rely on being able to buy porridge at the train station, or getting some porridge from McDonalds on the way there? Maybe this with a banana is acceptable, even if a few minutes off from 7:15am? 

I hope this is okay!

08/02/2013 at 14:07

Calorie Watch! Food & Drink Diary – Wednesday 6th February 2013

First day off sick for a good 6 years, but luckily my appetite didn't suffer too much. Hopefully this will make sure my energy levels remain stable for when I get out running again.

7:30am - Breakfast - Fruit and Fibre cereal w/ semi-skimmed milk. Naval orange (to increase my Vitamin C intake), Cup of tea, followed by the rest of the morning in bed sleeping off my man-flu!

1:00pm - Lunch - New England Butternut Squash Soup and  brown wholemeal roll. Pint of squash and Lemsip sachet.

3:30pm – Moping around feeling sorry for myself I happened across a half eaten pack of M&Ms. There was a handful left, so I finished these off. To make myself feel less guilty, I also had a Muller Greek Style (fat free!) yoghurt.   

4:30pm - Lemsip Sachet and pint of squash.

7:30pm - Dinner - Grilled chicken, peas and rice, pint of squash.

9:30pm  - Lemsip Sachet, another Naval Orange and an early night to make sure I was ready for a return to work the following day!

08/02/2013 at 14:14

Calorie Watch! Food & Drink Diary – Thursday 7th February 2013

Back to work today. I still didn't feel 100%. I could have probably done with another day's rest as by the time I came home in the evening I was shattered.

6:50am - Breakfast - Fruit and Fibre cereal w/ semi-skimmed milk.

8:30am - Bottle of water.

11:00am - Bottle of water and banana

12:00pm - Lunch - Asda Egg and Cress Sandwich on Wholemeal bread, Strawberry fat-free yoghurt, bottle of water.

2:30pm – Cup of tea.   

4:30pm - Cup of tea. I was going to eat my apple snack, but was starting to feel a little rough again.

7:30pm - Dinner - Bulgar wheat with mushrooms and lentils, plus a 100% Angus beef (hopefully) hamburger patty. Pint of squash.

9:30pm  - Lemsip Sachet, a Muller Greek Style Yoghurt and a Naval Orange. I knew I still wasn't 100% as I fell asleep shortly after on the sofa. My wife had left me and gone to bed!

08/02/2013 at 14:27

Day 53 - Asics Target 26.2 Paris Marathon Training (07/02/13)

Target: 6 miles steady @ 7:35 - 8:00m/m

Actual: Rest (begrudgingly)

It's strange the way my mind works sometimes. I knew I wasn't 100% today, but I still wanted to go out and run. I knew it would do me more harm than good, but that still didn't change my mentality. I saw this as a missed run, rather than a well needed rest and recuperation day.

I made it back in to work after yesterday's sick day, but I think I would have been better taking today off as well. I still had shivers and hot flushes during the morning. The only reason I went in to work was due to a lunch time meeting where I was having to give a speech. Sod's Law that I turn up and the first email in my inbox said that this meeting was now cancelled. At least I didn't bring my running kit in today, otherwise I'd have ran at lunch instead!

As the day progressed, I started to feel better and when I reached home in the evening I was adamant I'd get yesterday's 3 mile jog in to catch up on the miles I'd missed. Although I wanted to do it, I really knew I shouldn't. I kept putting it off. First it was 'I'll do it later in the evening after dinner'. Then it was 'I'll do it on the treadmill because it's not so cold'. Then Mrs. Shady Ady questioned my stupidity to why I was even thinking of doing at all, considering a missed 3 mile jog would make no difference come the start line in Paris.

Luckily I saw sense and agreed with her. If I do start to feel better tomorrow and over the weekend, there's no reason why I can't work these 3 miles at easy pace into my 5km Parkrun w/up and c/down. I could even add some of it to Sunday's run as an extra w/up.

I'm hoping things will be back to normal tomorrow and I can at least get some running under my belt before Saturday's Parkrun.

08/02/2013 at 14:34
Hi Ady - I'm so impressed with your food choices, especially whilst you've been I'll. When I'm poorly, all I want to eat is crisps and biscuits, usually washed down with a purely medicinal glass of wine come the evening
I'm doing London in April. I got a place first time in the ballot - how jammy is that?! It being my first marathon, my main aim is to finish, but I would love to come in under 4:30, so I've been following Mel's thread closely.
I've also got a half marathon coming up a week on Sunday, so will be trying out the tips on carb loading etc. Permission to eat sweeties, I can't wait!!
Like you, I've had a break from the strength training so my body has been in shock since the first session back on Monday. I'm also tempted to try a further session to see if I recover any better. I can't help thinking its a good complement to all the pavement pounding, but I'm interested to hear more about why Sarah doesn't advise it.
08/02/2013 at 15:23

Day 54 - Asics Target 26.2 Paris Marathon Training (08/02/13)

Target: Rest - As I had a rest day due to illness yesterday, I moved Thursday's run to Friday. This was 6 mile steady @ 7:35 - 8:00m/m

Actual: 6 miles steady @ 7:29m/m in 45:01

Mile Splits: 1st: 7:31m/m. 2nd: 7:28m/m. 3rd: 7:31m/m. 4th: 7:31m/m. 5th: 7:33m/m. 6th: 7:22m/m

As I was almost back to feeling 100% today, I thought I'd get out and see how I fared running again. I was hoping to do 6 miles steady, but if I was struggling, I'd revert to doing the 3 mile jog I'd missed instead.

I was expecting to feel lethargic as I set off. I suppose as I hadn't ran for only two days, this sense was more psychological than reality. I had no problems at all to start with keeping to the lower end of my pacing target. Two miles in, I was still feeling fresh and there were no side effects from my man flu episode. It was here I made the decision to do my 6 mile steady run. To make it a little easier, I cut out two steeper hills that I would have had to run twice (out and back). This was not only to make today's run easier, but also to preserve my legs as much as possible for tomorrow's Parkrun.

I think because I'd had a break, my legs wanted to quicker than my pacing targets and I found for the first four miles I was running the first 2/3's of each mile quicker than needed then relaxing back in the last 1/3.

The run did a world of good to my stuffy sinuses, thawing them out like a blow torch to ice. The only downside to this was towards the end of the run I found myself having to clear my throat of unwanted phlegm every minute or so, which would have affected my consistency and form, especially in the 5th mile, which wasn't as easy as the first four or the last.

Once I reached the last half mile, I decided to stretch out my stride slightly and push my pace up. This was more in preparation for tomorrow to see how the aches in my legs from earlier in the week would cope at my 5km speed. There were no issues at all, either from the aches, or from my illness. So fingers crossed I'm good to go and can now carry on as usual.

The pace felt good today and wasn't a struggle. It was as good as I could have hoped for!

Here's my run from today:

08/02/2013 at 20:07

He's back! 

Great to see you back to fitness so soon. Blimey - 7:30 pace for your first run back, very impressive!

Best of luck tomorrow. Really hope you get that PB!

09/02/2013 at 07:28
Good luck this morning Ady! Hopefully the extra rest this week has done you some good. I set my 10k PB in the same week that I'd had food poisoning! Think the fact that I was suddenly 1/2 a stone lighter helped although I wouldn't recommend catching food poisoning to lose weight!

Yes we do both have the same targets for our halfs. The course has changed since I last did the Brighton half but I think it's mostly flat as its largely along the sea front. I got my 1st 20 miler done last week and felt good so I'm feeling confident at the moment.
09/02/2013 at 10:12
Go Ady!
09/02/2013 at 12:31

I just thought I'd pop on here quickly before catching a train down to Dorset for a friend's birthday tonight.

It was my 5km Parkrun today (I'l save the full write up until tomorrow afternoon) and after a 4 year PB drought I'm happy to say this has now been broken. I completed the Crane Park Parkrun in 21:15 (my Garmin time - official results haven't been published yet), which is 30 seconds off my previous PB of 21:45. 

It's nice to get a PB as it definitely feels now I'm moving in the right direction. I still wasn't 100% running today, but wasn't far from it. I could still see several areas of immediate improvement that could lower my time further.

The negatives from today: I was beaten by a couple of 10 year olds, which no matter how much faster I ran than ever before, still takes a knock at your confidence. I also trod in a huge pile of dog doo-doo. I only realised this after making my way home and stepping this into our cream carpet. I'm not my wife's favourite person at the moment as you can imagine. Hopefully this will quickly change as I've spent the last 45 minutes cleaning all evidence of this mishap away with both my trainers and carpet now spotless!

Hopefully my PBs will follow the same rule as London buses. I've waited 4 years for one to come along and another 2 follow in quick succession! I might even treat myself to a shandy tonight to celebrate! 

I'll catch up with all the outstanding messages tomorrow! 

Edited: 09/02/2013 at 12:32
09/02/2013 at 12:34

I think listen to your body is a great way to tell if something is too much. The pilates is the perfect adjunct to marathon training as it gives you a good stretch and relax while activating all the essential core exercises. You can see how the gym session goes but I'd be tempted to tone these right down now till after the race.

good luck today.

09/02/2013 at 13:29

Hi Ady, Congratulations on your new PB! A good days work I'd say as you were still not 100%. Enjoy your shandy tonight!!!

09/02/2013 at 15:14
Fantastic Ady!!! Well done!! That's AMAZING!! I'm still waiting for my results ...!!
09/02/2013 at 15:36

So pleased, Ady - great result. And, the first race result that my trusty predictor chart puts you sub 3.30 for  We've reached the end (almost) of week 8, so I will be having a look at the results of the last 4 weeks and then posting next 4 weeks shortly.

My tuppence worth about strength training is that it's best to stick to body weight exercises during marathon training. ie. single leg dips, squats, lunges, step ups etc, rather than using machines or weights. The key goals are stability and alignment, then strength endurance. Once you've got them, you can add challenge by adding weight, instability or explosiveness.

Talking of food poisoning (someone was earlier in this thread!) I've just suffered the most horrendous post-oyster/scallop meal food poisoning. Was groaning on the bathroom floor on Thursday night till the early hours having brought up most of my internal organs - hideous! I was in bed till 2.30 yesterday and then, foolishly or in complete dedication (depending on what way you look at it) I did my long run on a diarolyte drink and two energy gels. Unsurprisngly it doesn't rate among my best performances! But feel completely better today, so there you go...

09/02/2013 at 17:00

OK, so I've posted weeks 9 to 11, as I want to see how tired Ady is feeling before prescribing a long run in week 12. I normally like that week, 4 weeks out, to be the peak long run but that isn't sensible, as he is doing the Surrey Spitfire the previous week, 20 miles, and a 20 miler next week give that he'll have had two weeks off from long runs with the Dorney Half and the recovery week with parkrun. 

Week 9 w/c 11th February
Thursday 4 MILE STEADY plus 4 accel strides
Friday: REST
Sunday 5 MILE JOG

Week 10 w/c 18th February
Tuesday 2 MILES EASY then 3 x acceleration strides then 6 x 800M (or 3 mins) at 6.20-6.50 pace with 3 min jogs in between each. 1 MILE EASY (8 MILES)
Wednesday REST/CT or 4 MILE JOG
Thursday 6 MILE BUILD-UP focused around MP (From 8.20-7.30)
Saturday REST
Sunday LONG RUN 20 MILES COMFORTABLE – ideally at least half on soft, varied terrain.

Week 11 w/c 25th February
Monday REST
Tuesday 2 MILE COMFORTABLE then 3 x acceleration strides then 8 x 400m (or 90 seconds) at 6.05-6.20 pace with 2 min jogs in between each. 1 MILE COMFORTABLE (7 MILES)
Thursday 5 MILES comfortably steady! (7.55-8.10 PACE)  
Friday REST
Saturday TRAINING DAY BIRMINGHAM 5km time trial (6.5 miles approx)
Sunday SURREY SPITFIRE 20 progressive pacing.

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