Christmas and New Year Catchup

I’ve been a bit lax on the weekly updates since Frankfurt, with just one since I started my training for Brighton, so what have I been up to?

The first four weeks of my 18 week plan for Brighton gradually built up from 80 miles to 95 miles, before a recovery week. The plan then shifts up a gear with a block of four 100 mile weeks before another recovery week going in to the Worthing Half. My fitness had been a bit “off” during November as I recovered from Frankfurt and also adjusted to the move away from London. Thankfully though things started improving as I stepped up the mileage, and once I got in to my stride I was feeling almost back to full fitness. My body is definitely used to high mileage now, and seems to struggle when I’m not pounding out the miles!

Training over Christmas went very well. I managed to juggle running and festivities, and didn’t miss any runs. I even managed a run on Christmas Day – a very pleasant recovery run in weather so warm I was wearing summer shorts and t-shirt! I was ticking along very nicely, with my medium-long and long runs coming out at decent paces, and my heart rate during recovery runs staying lower than I’d ever managed before. The legs were feeling good despite building up to a 97 mile week, by highest ever, and I was feeling really positive about my running.

However, disaster struck at the start of January when I dropped a large desktop PC on my toe while down in London doing some work for a client. The drop badly split my toe nail, causing my shoe to fill with blood, and also heavily bruised the toe. I was really worried I might have broken it, and visions of my marathon plans being ruined filled me with dread. I went to bed that day praying I’d wake up with it feeling much better, but instead I could barely hobble on it. Things did not look good, and although I tried to stay positive was feeling pretty down about my running outlook.

I took a few days off running entirely, hoping to allow the toe to heal a bit. I was able to wiggle the toe without pain, so was hopeful it wasn’t broken, and walking gradually became easier although the toe was still bleeding whenever I moved it much. After a few days I tentatively tried some short, gentle recovery runs, and although it wasn’t entirely comfortable the pain was manageable and it wasn’t making the injury any worse. The discomfort mainly came from my shoes pressing against the toe rather than the toe itself, so my hopes began to rise that this wouldn’t be as catastrophic as I originally feared.

By the start of the following week I was confident enough to resume normal training again, although I was still having to wear heavier, more built-up shoes to reduce the amount of pressure put on the toe. My paces had slowed a little, and the effort felt much higher at times, but somehow I worked through the discomfort and managed my first ever 100 mile week! I took every day very much as it came, and was prepared to start cutting back if things were getting worse, but thankfully the toe was gradually getting better so that wasn’t necessary.

I got off very luckily really, as it could quite easily have broken the toe, or even worse if the computer landed further up and broke the entire foot. I was able to keep my sanity by putting in a few longer cycling sessions, and I’m pleased that I managed the injury reasonably sensibly, being careful not to start again too soon, and ready to back off when necessary to ensure no further damage.

The next week continued to see improvements, and I gradually got in to my groove again with faster sessions and more comfortable running. Indeed by the end of the week I was running entirely pain free without being able to feel the toe at all. It still looks a bit of a mess, and god knows how long it will take to fully heal, but touch wood I’m now 100% back to normal running.

This was further evidenced by my marathon-pace long run on Sunday, which took place in Bristol as I was visiting friends. A big curry and a bottle of red wasn’t the best prep for the run, but nonetheless I dragged myself out at 9am for the session. I felt quite tired at first, so was seriously considering dropping the MP and just doing a normal 20 miler.

Bristol harbour

However I figured I’d give MP a try and see how it felt. I actually settled in quite nicely, the pace felt relatively comfortable given the mileage in the legs. Although I was slightly off my goal pace (6:50ish) looking at the gradient chart most of the miles were slightly uphill. Strava puts the grade-adjusted average at 6:47/mi so if that’s accurate I’ll take it. Regardless, given the non-ideal preparation the night before, and the heavy mileage, I’m happy enough with the performance. And also very glad to have got that session out of the way!

That was my second 100 mile week in a row. Two more, and then a mini-taper for Worthing Half. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll race this or run it as an MP session. I have the Brighton Half two weeks later, so I’m waiting to see what the weather is like for Worthing, and how I feel after four 100 mile weeks! Depending on that, I’ll either race Worthing, or run it as an MP session and race Brighton instead.

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