Last 20.2 miler before VLM

Last Sunday I did my last long run in my marathon training. 20.2 miles was a bit longer than the long run 2 weeks before a marathon should be, but I wanted to do it because I’d missed part of my training in January and February with the flu and a cold.

I’d done some good long runs so far, building up my health, fitness and endurance at the end of February and into March and April. 14, 18, 20, 22 and 19. Some of them were on my own (the 22 miler and the 18 miler) and some were with others.

Mostly I’d been taking it easy, with the odd tempo run or long tempo intervals. One thing I noticed was that my recovery seemed to be better than normal. I wasn’t usually too tired after my long runs, and I maybe only had a bit of muscle pain in my shoulders after. All good so far. 🙂

So for my last long run I decided I’d do around 20 miles, running from Port Glasgow along the cycle track (75) to Glasgow. Fit girl drive me to Port Glasgow and dropped me off at the cycle path.

(Believe it or not, a passer by said I was ‘looking good’ lol. Look out for me on the telly next Sunday at the London marathon.)

This was to be my race simulator run. I was going to split the 20 miles into 5 X 4 mile sections and a little bit on the end. I’d keep my HR about 150 for the first 2×4 mile sections then let it go to 160+ in the 3rd one.

As well as splitting the run up, I was fuelling like I will on race day, and I wore most of the clothes (and gear) I’ll wear on the day too. In a usual training plan, I should have done this type of run 4-5 weeks before race day, but this time was different. I thought it was more important to build a base, then do this run for me to decide how I’d run on race day. (Ie easy (HR 150) or hard (HR 150-165+).

I did a Garmin ‘livetrack’ test, sharing my route and progress with a link so people could follow me (if they wanted).

I knew from running the route before that the first 8 miles was mostly downhill, and I felt good. Ticking the miles off, with my music on in one ear. I took a strong SIS caffeine gel at 5 miles in, then a wiggle caffeine gel every 5 miles after that. I had my water pack on my back too.

It all seemed to be going well up to the 8 mile mark, and I passed Johanne at some point along the route, and stopped and chatted for a bit with her. The downhill or gravity helped me tick off the miles faster than I was used to, but I was feeling good.

And I laughed to myself when a guy waking a tiny dog near bridge of weir, nodded at me and said ‘looking good’. I’m thinking he was talking about my form and not my awfy bright outfit. 😜

At 8 miles I chose to put the foot down a bit and increase my HR to 160ish. Around about that point I got to Paisley. Things were still going well, although my calves we’re starting to feel like there was lactic acid (pain) building a little bit.

At one point I looked down at my watch and I noticed my Garmin distance field seemed to be stuck at 11.75. I was running along, my cadence and the time ticking along. But the distance was stuck. Had someone stolen the satellites from above Paisley? 😉

I ended up having to stop my watch (and my livetrack activity). And restart my watch. Now I was worried that the people I sent the live track link to would worry something had maybe happened. :-/ (I’ve now totally reset my Garmin, so hopefully it’ll be ok next Sunday. I’ll try it out again tomorrow).

With 8 miles to go, I knew the route from here, but I decided I’d take the pressure off and keep my HR a bit lower / take it a bit easier. I stopped and text FitGirl to let her know I was ok, posted a quick update on Facebook and took a gel, then got on my way.

Start again. I was kind of glad the watch stopped tracking at the end of my 3rd 4 mile section. So it was just a case of starting again, with just 2 X 4 miles to go. Easy.

My arm covers (or whatever you call them) had been good. Kept me warm when I needed it and i was able to take them down when I was hot. I didn’t need my gloves and probably not my hat either though.

The last bit was 8.2 miles back home. Through Pollok park, and up and down the hills with just a few miles to go. In Pollok park, about 17 miles in, my legs were sore and I was thinking to myself, I could just stop now… but I kept going. The Garmin malfunction had really put me off my stride.

I almost chose not to go up the hills, but I remembered the week before when I made Mike power up them at the end (and made him do an extra mile), and I thought the least I could do was to finish my run as planned.

Here’s my heart rate across both runs: 11.75 miles:

8.2 miles:

In the last mile, I managed to pick it up a little and finished strongly, but I was glad to see the second distance tick up to 8.2 so I could stop. My cadence had been 180 again, the metronome on my new Garmin simply works to help you increase your cadence (mine used to be 174).

My pace ended up being around 8:00-8:23 minute miles, (the quicker pace was mainly due to the downhills). So I guess that’s about a find of 3:40 for a marathon if I run like that on race day. All good, but I’m not sure it’s worth it. I’m not sure the pain during and after is worth the push for the higher pace.

I walked about a half mile, then when I got home I stretched and drank water a milkshake. I had a banana after and some lunch – black pudding pizza and coffee this time, from Old Saltys.

Not long after the run, I realised it was hard on me. Unlike my other long runs this time, I was feeling pretty gubbed. I was really tired after it, on Sunday, and into Monday and Tuesday. 

And my calves were right and sore. Something I haven’t felt (basically from running fast for a long time) for a long time. And since my calves were right and sore, my plantar in my feet were sore too. Nothing serious. Just a bit niggly. 

This photo was taken just after the run… and I was tired, but felt accomplished. :-/ a little check of what my vo2 max was after it made me feel a bit better – it had increased to 53. The highest for a while.

My plan for the next week (last week) included a rest day on Monday, then spin, a few runs and strength training throughout the week before a 16 miler simulator run on Sunday (tomorrow / the 17th).

But the way I was feeling, I decided rest was more important. So I took full rest for 3 days, Monday to Wednesday. My sensible head was here and I ended up having 5 rest days this week, with an active day on Thursday with 2 runs, 6 miles before work and an easy 10 mile coaching session at night. My legs finally started to feel better that day.

Quite an odd looking week activity wise, around 6000 steps on rest days, and around 36,000 steps on Sunday and Thursday. Rest and recovery.

I got a lot more sleep this week too. Lying in most mornings. 🙂 (see the difference in the graph above, this week and below, last week).

I ate lots and lots too. And the other thing I did was stop drinking coffee – a caffeine fast for 2 weeks before the marathon. So that when I take caffeine on the day, hopefully it’ll make me feel great and help me run great.

I’m keeping an eye on my (low) blood pressure (coffee tends to make it go a bit higher). It’s sitting around 100/60 which is ok – if it goes lower than that I might have some issues. So far so good.

Sleep has been good, but I felt so gubbed for most of the week, that I couldn’t even be bothered writing this post. I started to write it, but it went funny and I gave up. That’s kind of how my week felt.

Fit Girl noticed I wasn’t really myself. And whilst I was able to focus on getting stuff done at work, I wasn’t much good for anything else.

And it’s for that reason, and the soreness, the tiredness and me just not feeling quite right and feeling am eency bit broken, that I decided once and for all that I’ll not be pushing myself on race day at the London marathon. It isn’t worth it.

I aim to go there and enjoy it, and for me, that means taking it easy and having fun. HR 150 most of the way – up to maybe 20 miles, then I’ll see how I feel.

The harder I push it (HR wise), the faster I go, but time / fast / pace isn’t all that important to me – so I’m going there to run the London marathon, have fun and take it all in. 🙂 imagine running up the Mall at the end with the crowds cheering? Imagine the crowds all the way through?

I’m remembering that I’ve had a crappy end to last year, then I’ve not been well in my training. I feel confident, like I’ve done enough training. And I’m fit and ready for this – but I really just want to enjoy it. And perhaps I’ll aim to get really fit for loch ness marathon (again this year) at the end of September.

London will be my 9th marathon, and I’m remembering what I said to myself on my pb one in 2013 – running around Glasgow. My avg HR was high at 164 (I aimed to have it at 165 the whole way)… Max 187. I was pretty gubbed after that too if I remember rightly.

It was all going so well, then at around mile 22 it stated to get hard (really hard), and I said to myself ‘I’m never pushing myself like this again’. I’ve got my pb, now I don’t need to do it again. 🙂 I’d much rather take it all in and enjoy it more.

One week to go, and my legs (and body) feel recovered now, and tomorrow is a wee easy 14 miler, then next week, I’ll do what I feel like. Travelling down to London on Saturday morning. 🙂
If you want to track my run at the London marathon you can do it on their app if you download it: my number is 26069.

And if you have a few quid spare (and you managed to read ALL the way down to here (!!!!!) you can sponsor me at:


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