I'm based in Leeds and will be training for the Brighton Marathon (April 10th 2011). Can anyone recommend any half marathon or 20 milers that I could build into my training programme? I'm happy to travel up to about 75 miles for a good race. Especially if there's cake.
I train a lot on trails so assume I will enjoy cross country and enthusiastically sign up for the PECO league in West Yorkshire each year.
Each year I rediscover that, far from the civilised glory of trail running, cross country is masochistic agony. You slither over horrible hilly terrain in either ankle deep mud or lethally slippery ice, usually running laps of a torturous route, so that the satisfaction of reaching the top of a very steep hill is counteracted by the terrible knowledge that you're going to have to do it twice more.
Not many people want to stand around in the mud and ice, so you are cheered on by a small group of club runners who broke legs/ankles/collar bones at the previous race and are secretly glad that they won't have to compete for the rest of the season. If you are very lucky, one of them will wrap a coat around you as you retch in the finishing chute.
But, the moment the race is over you will feel a sense of satistfaction that is like nothing else in the world. Your body will be pleasantly exhausted from the effort, the tea and sandwiches in the club house will taste like a meal from heaven, and you can slink home to a nice hot bath and an afternoon on the sofa knowing that you are an element conquering hero.
The best preparation is as much off road running as you can find. Definitely try to mix up trails and grass, as they are two different animals, and look for 'technical' footwork so you are comfortable running on rocky and uneven terrain. I run in trail shoes, which worked well last winter as it was so icy, but would definitely invest in studs if we have a wetter winter this year.
I'd be grateful for some advice on how to approach the upcoming Sheffield (24 April) and Leeds (9 May) half marathons.
Sheffield will be my first time racing over half marathon distance. When I began training in January my 10k PB was 53:30 and I ran my first 10 mile race over trails in 1:32:22 in early February, although I treated it as a training run so probably could knock several minutes off that time. My aim for the year is to complete a half in under 2 hours. Sheffield is less hilly so that's my best bet!
I've been upping my milage and doing some tempo runs since January, and about a 2-3 weeks ago was at a point where I was running about 30 miles a week with a 14-15 mile long run. Then my training all went to pot and I've not been able to do much running for the last couple of weeks, though I have made it out for short (sub 8 mile) runs and circuit training.
I assumed that my performance would suffer and sub 2 for Sheffield and Leeds was no longer likely, so have entered a hilly 10 mile trail race on 2 May.
Then on Sunday I ran in a hilly local 10k and knocked over 4 minutes off my PB, finishing in 49:19. Suddenly sub 2hrs looks possible after all.
So my questions are:
How should I approach Sheffield? My instinct is to aim to run 9 minute miles for the first 10 and then pick the pace up for the last 3 and a bit if I'm feeling comfortable. Does this sound realistic?
What kind of running should I do between Sheffield and Leeds? The trail race on the 2nd is probably going to need some recovery time, so should I was wondering whether only doing 2-3 very short (no more than 4-5 mile) recovery runs during the rest of the fortnight would be a sensible approach?