A week of marathon training

25 August 2014, 19:24

I had a few days of rest after my performance at the British Transplant Games, but then it was right back into marathon training. I’ve only got a few short weeks left before Berlin marathon to get any quality training in before the taper, so we’re not wasting any time in getting my body transitioned back into endurance shape after a few months on the track.

I thought some of you may want to see what a typical week of my marathon training looks like, and since last week felt particularly hard(core), it seems as good a week as any to use an an example.

view beyond Putney Bridge

Monday – longish run

Monday’s run called for 1hr40min with varying paces. Without going into the full breakdown here, this meant warming up then running at half marathon pace, 10k pace, then 5k pace one right after the other, and repeating until I cooled down at the end. Mentally I find this really tough because the distances I’m covering (~20km) are routes I’d previously only run as Long Slow Runs, but here I’m running them at controlled fast paces! This particular session was made even tougher as I really needed the toilet from the turnaround point – I figured I’d use Tate Britain’s but they weren’t open yet, and then the public toilet I stopped at wouldn’t take any of the coins I or the helpful passerby inserted! I ended up just having to rush home, but the act of clenching it in for ~40min really made me feel ill for the rest of the day.

Tuesday – threshold run

On Tuesday nights I run with Run dem Crew and since the end of last year I’ve been clinging on at the back of the fastest group, the Elites. I’m often the only lady in a group of whippet thin guys who can slam out a 35min 10k, but I find I’m able to keep up with the often sub-4min/km pace so long as I get a break to catch my breath now and then. This really is a threshold run for me – I’m at the very edge of my speed, beyond my comfort zone, and very nearly at my maximum mile pace. Some weeks the machismo of the guys takes over and it’s not very pleasant at the back, but this week everyone was in a great holiday mood, which made all the difference. Particularly helpful is when one of the guys (or Sorrel!) fall back to keep me company, and I had a great chat with Tom along the Embankment this week, which really helped take my mind off the pain. On this particular run we covered 11.5km in 47min, which averages out to just over 4min/km!

Wednesday – recovery & massage

Now, I don’t get a sports massage every week (more like once a month during heavy training) but my legs were overdue for it after the thrashing I gave them up in Bolton, so I decided to jog the 3km up to Energy Lab in Shoreditch both to warm up my muscles for the massage, but also shake out the lactic acid and other junk that had surely built up from the night before. Barbara had a good dig around in my legs but only found a few knots – namely the one I was feeling in my right hamstring anyway! Happily though, my quads and calves were all feeling good, though so I passed the MOT with flying colours.

Track shadows

Thursday – track

I was surprised to still see track workouts on my training plan after the transplant games – when I’d trained with Energy Labs for previous marathons I’d mostly had tempo runs on Thursdays (or even double runs!), but in this case the sessions were longer than I’d been doing before. After a few warmup laps and drills with the rest of the RDC track group, I split off and ran 1200s and 800s with only about 2min recovery in between. Even though I was on the track for over 90min, I still only covered half the repeats I was meant to do, so I need to figure out what to focus on for this week or I’ll be destined to never run 200s!

Friday – rest

Sweet, sweet rest.

Saturday – long run

This time around my long runs alternate between long, hilly trail runs up in Hampstead Heath, and long flat runs along the river. This week called for a 3hr flat run, alternating 30min at marathon pace with 20min at half marathon pace. This doesn’t sound like it’d be that much harder than just running at a Long Slow Run plod, but by god it’s tough when you’re two hours in and already feeling tired!

Daniel the Run dem Bear

The best part of this run was that my friend Daniel happened to have the same run in his plan, too, so we were able to run this together, meeting at Millennium Bridge (after I’d run from Tower Bridge to warm up) and following the river all the way around to Richmond Bridge. This was super exciting for me as I’d never gone beyond Putney Bridge before – usually for 20 miles I cross at Putney then come back along the river to home, but this way we decided to end at Richmond, meet my husband for lunch, then catch the train back home.

I’ve run with Daniel for so long that we’re really comfortable running partners – we have very close to the same pace and pain thresholds (though he insists I’m better at shorter distances, and I know his ultra-running ass is better at long distances!), we won’t let each other get carried away, and we’re not afraid to speak up if we need to stop and stretch out for a minute. Or in my case, stop for a minute at every bridge beyond Putney so I could take a photo! Just call me the “Bridge Hunter”!

Thames path at Barnes

I could always see on the map that the Thames path turned into trail beyond Putney Bridge, but I wasn’t quite expecting it to feel so remote and, well, “trail” through Barnes and Kew! There the trail goes through wetlands and woodlands, with no traffic to be seen at all, and happily bare ground rather than pavement underfoot, which feels much kinder on the hips after a few hours.

me at Kew Railway Bridge
Celebrating at Kew railway bridge

Richmond Bridge selfie
Celebrating the first sight of Richmond Bridge with an unattractive selfie!

We’d planned to only run to Richmond Bridge, but with the controlled pace of the run, we ended up hitting the bridge with a good 30min left to go, so we actually went beyond it and turned back around after 15min so we finished at the bridge itself. James cycled down to meet us and we all had a good stretch out and pub lunch along the river before hopping on the train home to my own personal recovery saviour – an ice bath! I usually only use them after marathons but I could tell my legs were shredded and would be really suffering without one so I set the timer for 10min and I swear it makes a difference!

Daniel & I at the finish

In the end, we covered just over 20 miles (34km) in exactly 3 hours, which bodes well for both of us in Berlin marathon, I reckon!

Tower to Richmond map

Sunday – rest

By this point I needed it!


Totals for the week – about 80km and 6hrs of running, spread over five sessions.



  1. You work like a demon but you always seem to be having a good time. Have fun in Berlin!

    — Kim Hood    26 August 2014, 19:50    #

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