"The dichotomy of marathon training can mean that you feel the fittest you ever have on one day, and the most unprepared you've ever been for your goal a few days later."
- Eric Floberg

Monday - 10km Easy

Feeling slightly better today, was able to do the first few kilometres almost completely pain free.

Started to feel a little bit of pain from about 4km mark onwards, but it was nothing compared to what I felt last week. My easy pace was also slightly faster this week (5:00/km vs 5:45/km).

By 9km in I was feeling good enough to send it for the last kilometre, so I went almost all out for a final split of 3:35.

Overall I felt slightly better today. Hopefully this recovery week will help me get back to full intensity soon.

Thursday - 12km Tempo

4km warmup,
3km @ LT pace,
5km cooldown.

I came across the quote above last night and it perfectly summarises how I've been feeling recently.

Today's run was an example of me feeling unprepared.

With two days away from running, my legs were feeling fresh, so I had high hopes for a good tempo workout today. I started off feeling comfortable in the warmup, but was soon forced to slow down after only 3km of LT pace.

I think I might have not fuelled properly for this run, and I stupidly decided to run in the middle of the day when the temperature outside was at its peak. These two factors made even my cooldown feel challenging. I also think I have not fully recovered from being sick earlier last week, which would explain why my chest became tight.

I had caught my breath a little bit by the end of the 11th kilometre so I decided to make up for the shorter tempo segment by pushing myself for the final kilometre. Finishing with a 1000m sprint left me feeling physically worse than I otherwise would have felt, but mentally I felt much better knowing I can push myself a little bit more when I think I've hit a wall.

Friday - 10km Easy

For some reason today I could not keep my heart rate below 160 despite my effort being low. As frustrating as this is sometimes, it's not worth spending mental energy thinking about during a run.

I've said before that my main goal for easy runs is perceived exertion rather than maintaining a low heart rate. The reason for this is because there are so many factors that can affect your heart rate such as caffeine consumption, heat, and fatigue. Two of the exact same runs on different days might show completely different heart rate measurements for any or all of those reasons.

I wouldn't disregard heart rate completely though, because it is probably the least subjective measure. Obviously if you feel fine but your heart is pounding at 170bpm, that's a clear sign that you should slow down. I just try not to get too caught up in what my heart is doing if I'm feeling fine in all other aspects.

Some might say that I was just running too hard for an easy run, which is also understandable and not impossible. This is all a learning experience for me and maybe I'll change my mind on this as I progress as a runner.

Saturday - 8km Recovery

The hard part about easy runs is making sure they are just that––easy.

When it comes to recovery runs, they are often harder, because they should be even easier.

What an interesting paradox.

Running slow can be uncomfortable. Especially feeling like you're holding yourself back when you know you can easily run much faster. But that's the whole point of recovery (and easy) runs.

Get the legs ticking over, get the blood flowing.

On a side note though, today I was thinking about what I think about when I'm running, while I was running. How meta. Let me explain.

On my long runs and usually tempo runs, for example, I'd say about 80-90% of what I think about during the run is running itself. I'm constantly critiquing my form, analysing how I'm feeling, and thinking about my strategy for the remainder of the run (pacing, fuelling, etc). Surprisingly there isn't much self talk in the way most people would expect (think David Goggins-type of talk), although usually something a bit less harsh like mentally putting myself in a race, and asking myself what I'd do if this next kilometre was the final kilometre of a marathon and I'm about to hit my goal. That usually gets me moving.

The other 10-20% I'm usually thinking about how good my post-run swim (or shower) will feel, or finally being able to eat properly and chug some water instead of taking carefully measured sips. Sometimes I'll even narrate the run to myself, which often helps when the time comes for me to write my log for that run.

My easy and recovery runs are usually spent telling myself to hold back and reminding myself that there is no need to run hard. Admittedly, my mind wanders a lot more on easy runs because I can zone out and think about something other than running without ruining the run. Other times I might be planning my next long run, or I'm thinking about my schedule for the week, when I'll run, when I'll squeeze in uni work and socialising, and most importantly what I'm going to eat when I get back home.

Although it can be very boring to think about nothing but your own thinking for whatever the duration of my runs, I don't get many other opportunities to do that in my day to day life, so I've learnt to appreciate these moments of forced introspection.

Sunday - 20km Long

Plan for this run:
4:00am: Maurten Drink Mix 160 + Sodii Electrolytes (in 500ml water) + BPN Go Bar
5:30am: Coffee.
6:45am: Started running.
8.5km: Maurten Gel 100.

My first proper long run in two weeks.

Today's run did not go to plan. I was feeling good at the halfway point and after taking a gel, but I soon felt like I hit a wall, again.

I was consciously slowing myself down from the start of this run, which is usually a good sign because it correlates to me being able to reach faster paces later in the run.

Whilst still true to an extent today, I thought I could pick up my pace to 4:20 for kilometres 11-15, and then do the remainder a bit closer to 4:10/km. That was too ambitious of me given the fact I haven't done a long run like today in two weeks. It's amazing (and concerning) how quickly I felt like I had lost fitness since then.

I tried to compromise with myself by keeping this pace to the end instead of picking up even further, but even maintaining a 4:20 pace was challenging. I settled on keeping this pace going until at least 16km, and then I could take it easy until the end as a cooldown.

I initially felt like I was once again cheating myself and backing out because a run got too difficult for me. I reasoned that I was still getting the 20km in as scheduled, and this run would lead better into my one-week taper for next Sunday's run.

Although discouraging, I'm confident I made the more sustainable decision.

Today was not all bad news though. For the first time in a long time, I felt no shin pain while I was running. I have stayed away from running in carbon shoes this week and, paired with some exercises, I think I'm getting my shin splints under control (again). Let's hope this time is for good.

Weekly Summary:

Total Distance: 60km

17 Weeks Out.