running blog

Clive Whaley


My Home Town

Day 108 Marathon Training - 15 mins 'easy' - THE LAST TRAINING RUN

I was born in Stockton-on-Tees in the North East of England and I am proud of those roots. However, for the last 26 years I have lived in or near Bridport in Dorset. That is actually much longer than I lived in Stockton and is nearly half my lifetime. So I am equally proud to call Bridport my home and to wear the vest of the town running club on London Marathon day.
It seemed appropriate on my final training run to do a celebratory lap of the town - a 'goodbye' Bridport and wish me luck you quirky, crazy, funny, lovely little old town. I also did it first thing in the morning to allow me the luxury of having South Street to myself.

It's funny that this should be a relatively 'urban' run compared to the fields, coastal paths and deserted valley roads that have been the 'training avenues' for most of my marathon preparation. But in comparison to London it is not remotely urban and I think there will be something like five times my home town population taking part in the run!
It felt odd to go running for only 15 minutes or approximately 2 miles and this last run was one of the shortest of my whole training programme. But I have stuck to my plan for the whole 16 weeks, so I might as well fit in this final little jog. Everything is feeling fine - apart from my left shoulder. I've got some annoying pain and discomfort in what they call the rotator cuff. It's not going to stop me running but it might hurt a bit and restrict my running style. It's just so frustrating to have this 'eleventh hour' problem, just when I thought I was going to arrive at the start line injury free. Another couple of days for it to heal up - we'll see.

I'lll end this last blog entry before the main event with a few summary stats from the training:

481 miles run
68 runs
22 speed or interval sessions
15 gym sessions
22 miles - longest run
1.2 miles - shortest run (stopped with knee pain)
3 injuries (lower back, right knee, left shoulder)
7 runs missed through injury
111 days from the first day of training to the London Marathon.

Here's to Day 111 being the best one of the lot …

The Long Run

Day 84 - Marathon Training - 22 miles 'easy'
Without a doubt this is the most significant milestone in my marathon training plan. I have completed week 12 of the 16 week programme. I have completed my longest run. And I was able to do it without any flare up of previous injuries - either back or knee related. It is a very satisfying feeling.

Don't get me wrong, it was no stroll in the park, and I finished feeling completely exhausted and with aches, pains, soreness and a slightly worrying light headedness. I think if I'd gone much further, I would have become a wobbly puppet-like creature that would not know what day it was; exactly the sort of creature I turned into in the latter stages of the 1986 London Marathon.

But I didn't. I did enough and got through what I planned to do. I even did a bit of macho 'pushing the pace' in the late stages. I did mile 20 in approx 7 mins 50. And that was after feeling completely weary and 'out of it' by about mile 13. In fact this long run was unusual in that the weariness did not just come on and stay there. After feeling bad at the half marathon stage, I actually felt a mini boost between about 15 and 17 miles and then again in the last mile or two. This is really encouraging. Although I couldn't have run much further or faster today, there are signs of strength in me old legs; and signs that the cumulative effect of the training is working.

What I have to remind myself is that this long run has come on the back of a pretty hard training week - so I went into it with tired legs. Also the terrain is much more difficult than the London course. Today I ran along shingle beaches, across uneven fields and then through a valley road that is rarely flat and has a few taxing climbs in it.

Yes, I ran again into the Bride Valley - what has become my favourite 'on the road' training ground. My beautiful 'streamlined' valley is a pleasure to run through but it can hardly compete with the 'flatness' of London. Another strength of this training ground - its devoid of people a lot of the time - is clearly a weakness when it comes to encouragement and motivation to 'cheer you on' to the finish. So if you take today's run - subtract the tired legs, subtract the hills and shingle - and then add fast, flat, firm surfaces and huge cheering crowds - and suddenly you have something that might turn out to be easy in comparison. That's what I'm hoping anyway.

It's a bit like saying that today's run was harder than the marathon itself, even though it was 4 miles shorter. But there is a plausible argument that doing today's epic on my own, when I already felt tired and sore, was a tougher ask than flowing with the mass human river of 40,000 souls in London on April 23rd.

Consumed on the run today: 1 litre of water, 3 energy gels, 1 crunchy peanut butter protein bar - Yum!
Weather - 14C, light/mod SE winds.
Wore sunglasses for first time in 2017.

Stick to the Plan

Day 73 - Gym

I have continued with my gym sessions and I am sure they are helping with my overall fitness and more specifically with my leg strength and my core strength. Because of the knee problems it has become even more important and I'm hoping that some carefully controlled strengthening of the legs and quad muscles will reduce the chances of things flaring up again.

Click Link to Marathon Plan

I have included a link here to my full 16 week training plan. I must give credit as to where it has come from. This is Martin Yelling's 'Advanced Training Plan' from the London Marathon website. Thanks Martin - it has served me well, apart from when I've been injured, which is clearly not your fault!

Apart from injury breaks I have stuck to it quite rigidly. I have found it quite hard - just about at my limit but not beyond, which is exactly what I needed. I do like the variety in it - the fact that every little interval session or speed session is slightly different. It prevents any sense of boredom and I guess it works on your body slightly differently everytime.

Each time I've been injured it has really bugged me that I have missed out runs and training sessions because it is all part of one carefully designed 'whole' and you can't go back and make up for the bits you've missed. But I'm back on track this week and maybe I'm better off thinking that some of that enforced rest has been good for me.

The 'To Do' List

Marathon Training - Day 35 (Completion of Week 5) - 12 miles easy
(Link to My Marathon Plan - weeks 11-16 not yet added.)Marathon_Plan_Clive_WK5

Even though it's the longest run I've done this year, it felt comfortable fitting in a 12 mile 'easy pace' run along the coast today. It was also good to do it without spending any time on my backside in the mud - something which was starting to become a regular feature of my training.

When I got back I did what I always do, usually before I even step into the shower. I 'ticked' the run as DONE on my Training Plan and filled in the other columns for Distance, Feeling and Comments. I have written out my 16 week plan on an Excel Spreadsheet with columns for:
  • Plan day
  • Date/day of the week
  • Content of run/session
  • Column for a TICK to show DONE
  • Distance covered in miles
  • How I felt: (Poor/OK/Good)
  • Comments
You know what, I like doing this. I look forward to getting back and giving myself a TICK for my efforts! It has only occurred to me since starting this training programme for the London Marathon, that one of the reasons this appeals to me, is that it is like following the ultimate 'To Do' list!

For as long as I can remember, and certainly for a huge chunk of my adult life, I have compiled daily 'to do' lists. I have a scrap of paper with a hand written list in bullet point format, either on my desk or somewhere about the house (I use them for both work tasks and domestic tasks). An additional 'nerd' factor comes from the fact that I roughly draw square boxes to the right of each item so that I can put a tick in the box when I have achieved them. But … wait for it, I nearly always use a red pen in the box to make the 'ticks'. I don't know what it is, but there is something about the contrasting colour that makes the tick stand out and maybe there is something deep seated about 'marks from the teacher' in an exercise book - only here the 'red tick' is always a good thing - because something has been completed.

I can remember one of the first ever 'self help' style books I bought was called "Getting Things Done" by Roger Black (not the runner!). I've just looked it up and you can buy old copies on Amazon for 1p!! Maybe I got the 'tick list' idea from him but whatever the case, I have spent a long time being driven by the idea (obsessed by the idea maybe?) of doing things on my daily list and rewarding myself with a DONE tick.

I have spent recent years being more philosophical and reflective about myself and trying to ditch the striving and achieving side of my character - knowing that this has led me to some good things but has also been the source of disappointment, depression and unhappiness. So why do I cling on to the daily 'to do' list? I don't really know but I think it is a very deeply ingrained habit. I also find it very useful and I think on balance the mild satisfaction I still get from ticking things off, balances out the dark, obsessional elements associated with it. Also as I get older, I suspect the daily list will be a godsend for when I get to those moments of mental paralysis - coming to a complete stop and shouting out, "What the hell was I going to do today?".

I think I have got things more in balance these days. I would much rather be out running 10 miles or more through the Dorset countryside, than sitting at home ticking boxes on a list. But how wonderful to be able to do both - Ha Ha! But there is no doubt that, for me, there is a deep mental and physical satisfaction at work here - working my way daily through a Mega 16 week To Do List which culminates in a final task of running 26 miles 385 yards on the streets of London. For that special day I think I need to create a giant box on my spreadsheet and massively increase the font size on my tick. (Innuendo alert!)

If and when I complete the London Marathon it is going to be like completing my life's biggest ever 'to do' list. Once I get back home, I will savour the moment as I put in that giant tick to say DONE. And I should probably leave it there … it will be really healthy for me to ditch the lists, trust my memory, become more spontaneous and live for the moment.

Sounds good but I just have this feeling that within a few days, I will start another list …