Half way there

Today marks the end of week 8 of my 16 week marathon plan. How did that happen?!? For a recovery week, it's been surprisingly busy. But before we get to the lowdown on this week's training, I wanted to talk about athletics facilities in my City, or rather the lack of them.

I live just outside of Dundee, on the east coast of Scotland. It's a post-industrial city that's reinvented itself around the creative industries. We're the UK's only UNESCO City of Design, whilst next year will see the opening of the only V&A Museum of Design outside of London. We're very proud of our City.

But when it comes to sports facilities, we're sadly lacking. While Aberdeen has its Sports Village, with Olympic-size aquatics centre and awesome athletics stadium, we've got a leisure pool and an athletics park tucked in the back of beyond.

As we're starting to get to the business end of my training plan, I'm now doing regular speed work sessions. We've progressed from 400m intervals to 800m, then the 1km ones I did in London last week. This week coming the plan includes a set of Yasso 800s, the Intervals made famous by Runners World coach Bart Yasso. The theory is that you run 10-12 800m intervals at a time you hope to do in the marathon. For me, that's 3:45 per interval, which Yasso states will then translate to your marathon time in hours & minutes, give or take 5 mins.

I thought this would be a good session to do on the track. 800m is two laps of the track, so mentally it's easier to do. I googled the track here in Dundee and all I could find was this. No details about opening hours, costs, facilities etc. The Dundee Hawkhill Harriers are based there, but there's nothing on their site either. Yesterday we were going to be driving past, so I popped in to see what I could find out.

Now bear in mind that this was around 3pm on a Saturday afternoon – surely prime time for an athletics track – and it was shut! Steel gates were locked by industrial padlocks, so I couldn't get in if I tried. There were no notices to tell me opening hours, nothing. So frustrating!

I see some of my American friends doing track sessions at all hours of the day, which makes me incredibly jealous. Even when we lived in Aberdeen I was able to use the track at ASV from 6.30am onwards. But not in Dundee. So I guess my Yasso 800s are going to have to be done on the road, with my Garmin controlling the distance. It's not ideal!

In other news, as it's been a recovery week, I've had my four-weekly sports massage. This is something I've been doing since 2008, and it's an evening I really look forward to as Tracey sorts my body out and gets it ready for the next block of training. I can't imagine how I would feel without these sessions – they make a huge difference.

Today was another step into the unknown, this time with 18 miles on the plan. That would be 2 miles farther than I'd ever run before. For the first time in this plan I decided to have breakfast before going out – I'm going to need to do that on race day, so it's time to start getting my body used to it. I made a simple breakfast of porridge with half a banana and some honey, accompanied by a mug of coffee. I got up at 5.30am so that my body could digest it and then get out the door for 8am.

The first 9 miles felt really good, the energy from my breakfast almost made the run feel easy; from 10-14 it was a bit tougher (including a bathroom break!) then the last 4 miles were a grind. I took a gel around mile 12, maybe I should have taken one earlier, say at mile 8, then another around 15. I guess that's why we do these training runs – to learn what works and what doesn't, tweak things ahead of race day.

Next Sunday will be the longest run on this plan – 20 miles, which I'll do 3 times before race day, so I'll need to get my nutrition right if I'm going to get through that. Each time I go further, it's another step towards my marathon goal, so even though it's a step into the unknown, I'm ready for it. Let's see what the week ahead brings!

This week in numbers:

  • Miles run – 35.7
  • Time on my feet – 5:23:19
  • Massages received – 1

8 thoughts on “Half way there

  1. Really surprised about the lack of athletics facilities and information. If I were you I’d be having words with the council!

    The training looks as if it’s going well, despite this hiccup. Good luck with the marathon.

    1. Thanks Claire, yeah I’m on track 😊 I’m definitely going to find out who’s responsible and ask some questions – it’s crazy that in 2017 we can’t find something simple like opening hours!

  2. Way to go on 18 Ali! Very exciting. I think 14-18 being a bit of a grind is expected, but I agree with your tweaking plan and trying out taking a gel earlier–I think it will help. You are so right, that is what this time is for, not only training but figuring out our nutrition. I’m starting to experiment as well to see what works best, will def share details soon. Looking forward to hearing about your 20 milers. Great week!

    1. Hey Cat! Yeah, it was a bit of a learning day today for sure. More gels next week. I’m currently walking around like an old man, so will definitely be doing a long stretching session this evening! Look forward to hearing how you get on with nutrition etc 😊

  3. Congratulations on half way there! That’s terrible about the tracks though; surely it can’t be so hard just to post the opening times somewhere. I hope it gets sorted!

    1. Thank you! I seem to have run up against a brick wall – quite literally! I’ll just do this week’s Intervals on the road, I need to get them done early now anyway 😬

  4. For future reference opening times are:
    April – End of September ’17
    Monday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday (10am – 4.30pm)
    Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (12.30pm – 8.30pm)
    Duty manager had to leave ill early on Saturday. hence why it was all locked up.
    Best bet in the future is to call 01382 436871 in advance to avoid disappointment.
    It gets locked quite a bit due to vandalism from lovely little locals.
    There did used to be a sign but that got ripped off and hasn’t been replaced.
    Hope that helps.

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