One thing I always believe in is having faith in your journey in training towards a big event like a marathon, everything usually comes good at the right time. The only time you should change your training is if you get injured or feel like it’s not making any difference and your body will soon tell you if there’s an issue.
After last week’s fuelling lesson on my ride and run, I started the week brightly with a 1km swim non-stop which felt surprisingly easy given I haven’t been in the pool for over a week. I followed that up with a 5 mile run on Tuesday morning. The pace wasn’t brilliant but it was more about getting the miles in. On Wednesday, I got out on the bike a bit more during the day going to and from trips to the coffee shop to do some admin work and going to see clients. They’re all journeys of 1.5 miles but they add up and it’s good to get some speed and power in the legs.
I got in my first proper open water swim on Wednesday night at Lochore. I’ve been needing to get more open water stuff done and as I didn’t have a client that evening, I took the opportunity to go. It’s a great location, not too far from home and while it’s a brilliant watersports venue, the only time I’ve been here before was to do the 10k race back in October. If you’ve never done open water swimming before, it’s like learning to swim all over again as its vastly different from pool swimming. The first lap was about trying to find my rhythm and swim in a straight line! I got round with a few stops along the way, largely from going out too fast. I got better in each of the 4 laps I did or rather I became less rubbish with each lap! Plenty work to do on that one.
I managed 3 runs on Thursday! I went out myself first thing to do 4 miles before heading out for a 30min run with one of my PT clients. I got a few short bike rides in before my run club sessions in the evening. I don’t run much in the 0-5k session but I took my Run Faster guys through some hill reps so there was a bonus run in there to get to the hill and back. Friday saw more short burst cycling done and that seems to be shaping up pretty well.
I came to the realisation that I was going to need to change things as I’ve been losing quality from many of my runs when tagging them on the back of a long ride and so decided to change my long run day to a Saturday. When I say long run, I mean run down to Parkrun then home again afterwards. It was pacers week so I did 24mins and running at that steady pace and encouraging others made my run much more enjoyable. It was 2 miles down, the nice steady 5k and then I added a lap of the North Inch to make my run home to around 5k. That sequence felt pretty good and I’ll have 2 more opportunities to do that before the race and so I’m looking forward to it although I’ll be aiming to run Parkrun faster.
On Sunday morning, I got up with the intention of cycling 60 miles. It would be a bit of a jump from last week but I needed to do it so I know what the distance feels like. I wanted to get up and out early, which worked quite well but then got a puncture in the first mile. The ride was feeling harder than it should have been and I stopped just past 2 miles then saw the problem. I made my way home, replaced the tube and set off again albeit a good bit later than what I intended.
I have a habit of exploring when on a long run and my ride was no different. I had a route in mind on Saturday night but when I headed out on my usual route and went out to Dunning with the plan to go there and double back, I decided to keep going and head out towards Auchterarder and then Gleneagles. This was going well and I knew there would be a road out that way which would take me to my original destination – to Kinross and cycle round Loch Leven. I was already at 30 miles when I arrived in Kinross and set on my way to retrace the route I’d taken not that long ago in the Loch Leven Half Marathon. The weather was pretty good for most of the way but was mostly windy as I made my way around the loch, with the wind either a head or crosswind. Never a tailwind. Typical!
When I arrived at Scotlandwell, I was curious to see how it would be as I’d struggled there in the run but there was no issues on the bike. The only gripe I have on some of these small roads is the lack of signposts! When I turned off the road to Gleneagles to make my way across to Kinross, it was done on instinct. Not a single road sign was seen anywhere! This was evident again when I arrived in Milnathort looking for the road to Glenfarg. They’re not far away from one another but still, not a road sign. I cycled into the village, couldn’t see any signs, stopped to ask someone before being guided back to just past where I’d come from!
I got on the right road and would describe it as a gradual climb rather than the craziness of the Path of Condie road last week! I had the option of taking the main road for cars or there was another road that forms part of the national cycle network and so I chose that one. Steep in the first couple of hundred metres but not too bad from there on. The road was almost parallel to the M90 motorway so I knew where I was at any one time. The climbs were good as were the descents. They were amazing! I crossed the M90 on a bridge I was never really aware of before and when I got to the other side, I knew I was at the top of a hill and the only way was down. What a drop! I flew downhill even with the brakes gently squeezed as I didn’t know the road and how busy it was likely to be.
I took 3 gels and a cut up energy bar with me along with a bottle with electrolytes and another with water and that made such a difference. I took a gel at 20, 40 and 55 miles (to see me through the run after as well) and had set times in mind for taking the bits of energy bar but could remember what they were so just ate them as and when I felt I needed them. The last few miles heading back into Perth were a bit slow but that was down to another puncture in the same wheel as earlier.
I had set up my running shoes in the shed ready for my return so it was shed door open, bike in, change shoes, helmet off, go! I decided to do 4 miles (same route as my normal morning runs) and as I headed down the road, my legs felt like someone else’s after the bike ride. I would normally drop to the same cadence on the bike as I would do on my run in the last half mile but as its uphill for the last bit of the ride, I can’t really do that. The first bit of the run felt a bit weary but my legs wanted to go in a quicker cadence from normal and so I decided to go with it. It felt smooth and I felt relaxed so I thought would see what happened. The first mile was reasonably quick compared to normal (8:05) and as I enjoyed the brief downhill section at the start of the next mile, I expected the fatigue to kick in but it didn’t and I ran the next mile in 7:43. Bonus! I was running well and was waiting for the tiredness to kick in and slow down but it didn’t happen and I did the third mile in 7:30 even though I had to stop briefly as I couldn’t see out of my left eye from the sweat. The last mile is predominantly downhill with a steep bit at the end so maintained the cadence my legs had chosen to run at in the vain hope that I could finish the run with a negative split. I dug deep up the hill to the road into the houses and then one final push until my watch bleeped. 7.05! Ya dancer! A royal flush negative split after a 60 mile cycle.
Between the runs on Saturday and Sunday’s brick session, these are the strongest performances I’ve had since the Inverness Half Marathon in March. I’ve done a lot since then but nothing that has felt as good as this weekend. I’m feeling a lot more confident about the Ironman now although I still need to master the swim and continue to get some good runs & bike rides in over the next few weeks.
When you have faith in your journey marathon or Ironman journey, you know a run where it didn’t go according to plan teaches you everything you needed to know and is usually followed by the best run.