Jo’s Marathon Blog – week 14 (19th-25th Sep)

I expected to feel really sore on Monday, but it was more of a general stiffness that wore off as the day went on. I couldn’t face a recovery run or yoga after work, so I did all the housework I couldn’t manage on Sunday instead!

Tuesday was a gentle 2 miles with my beginner’s group, and then I intended to do a “Jo Pace” 2 miles and meet Simon partway home, and i was feeling very perky and up for it this week. However I got about 200 yards along the road and the pain in my right ankle was so sharp suddenly that I knew I’d be a fool to continue.  There’s a chance I could have “run through it” (a common runner’s idea!) but it didn’t feel worth the risk. Thanks to a meeting  on Wednesday there was no running to be had, but this was no bad thing as it meant another day of rest for my ankle, and I nervously awaited the Club run on Thursday.

Although Thursday’s Club run was down as a “fartlek” session (no – it’s not a rude word! Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play” and is a kind of spontaneous and fun interval training technique to help make you faster!), I just wanted to plod round and see if my ankle could take it.  I was lucky enough to be joined by a couple of lovely ladies who felt the same way, and am pleased to report that I had no pain at all, and actually felt amazingly strong over the 4.5 miles! Going home with a smile on my face was a very good feeling! It was weird to be finishing in darkness though – the first time this autumn…

On Friday I organised a pretty 4 mile route for my ladies social running group, and again this went well, and I was pleased to be functioning so well after Sunday’s epic distance. We made the most of the local footpaths whilst the light was still good, and it felt good.

It was nice to have Saturday off running though (especially as my working day was very busy), because on Sunday I had to get up really, really early (5.30am – yikes!) to join my friends on the ferry to Southampton, as we went to take part in the inaugural Winchester Half Marathon. They promised a hilly race, but Deb and I were feeling pretty laid back about it… after all, what was scary about 13 miles with our friends after the 21 we managed last week? WE WERE WRONG!!! We thought we were inured to hills – living on this undulating little Island of ours – but Winchester has got some serious ones! The first mile was very steep, and the hills continued for at least another mile after that. By mile 3 we were all thinking that another 11 miles seemed a looong, loooooooong way away, and frankly I think that I went into the event without the respect I would usually have for the distance because of my marathon training. Another lesson learned!

Deb and I did a fair amount of “back and forthing” as the 5 of us (the others were mutual friends Cathy, Lyn and Deb’s sister Cath) wanted to stay together all the way round but we were a wee bit faster than the others, and it was certainly a route to be savoured and appreciated. After running up some of the hills the marshals thought we were both a bit crazy when we’d then run back down to the others.. only to have to run back UP the hill again!

The last mile – through the old, cobbled streets of ancient Winchester back to the Guildhall – was like nothing I’d ever done…. lunchtime shoppers sitting at the outdoor tables of the restaurants, cafes and coffee houses lining the streets would clap and shout encouragement, children were high-fiving us, and everyone seemed really excited by the event. It put real pep in my step, which was good as my ankle had started playing up again in the final 2 miles and I was trying not to limp. The crowds at the finish line were so supportive of the five of us, and we gave an Isle of Wight “whoop whoop” as we crossed the line behind an amazing sprint finish Lyn suddenly found herself capable of! This is a beautiful, challenging run and was very well organised, and the last 3 or 4 miles were so lovely along a river path near St Catherine’s Hill – I would certainly recommend it.002

The nicest thing about this distance was not having to carry anything for a change, and next week we have a teeny, tiny 8 miler to do (see – already I have forgotten my lesson about respecting EVERY distance!) – I love this tapering!

Tapering is about bringing down your distances and effort in the final weeks leading up to an event, so that you keep things “ticking over” but also give yourself time to fully recover from the long months of training – ensuring you are in peak condition and full of beans on the day. A friend of mine recently gave me a really good tip about how to taper, which I would like to share with you: “Don’t do more miles in a tapering run than there are days left before your event.” 

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