Working Out The Baseline – Bewl 60km Training: Week 5

24th Feb 2020

These storms just won't bugger off, eh? Lots of rain, and lots more wind this week from beginning to end. The week started tough, after last week's Sunday session I had to start this Monday with two runs. First up was 35 minutes of easy running, which felt far more "concrete" than "easy. Around 9 hours later I was out again for 35 minutes of Tempo pace. I failed at that one, couldn't keep the pace after 20 minutes or so – had to take a walk break and ultimately felt pretty sorry for myself by the end of it. The only positive to take was the fact that it was my first double of the block and I'd at least got out there and done it.

Slight spoiler alert, but the big run of the week was due on Sunday. The plan called for a half marathon, and Brighton just so happened to fall in the right place. With that in mind I thought I'd try to put my rest days of the week into a block together as a mini taper. That seemed like a great plan back at the beginning of the year when it was all theory, but didn't feel such a great idea when I had to get back out there on Tuesday for another 60 minutes. Luckily it was just Easy time, which I used very much as a recovery run from the previous few days.

No time for rest yet, though, as soon enough it was Wednesday and I needed to crack out the toughest speed session so far. The meat of this session was 5 reps of 5 minutes at Fast (3:50/km) pace with 90 seconds of rest between reps. I tried this session out a few weeks before the start of this block and it beat the crap out of me. That, and the fact I had a pretty massive work situation come to a head, meant I went into this session pretty apprehensive. I didn't hit the target, but I was a lot closer than last time. I just don't have that sort of pace in me at the moment, so I'm just happy that the reps averaged at 3:58/km. After this block I'll definitely be spending some time on some pure pace work.

Session 5 of the week was Strength and Conditioning, and I had to make sure I didn't skip it two weeks in a row. That previous work situation as well as the mini taper and general life stuff meant I found myself doing my least favourite session at gone 9pm on the Thursday. I hate squats, mainly because of the fact I never recover from them well, but got them done along with the other exercises I'd been recommended.

FINALLY it was time for my mini-taper on Friday and Saturday, during which I spent most of my time moaning and groaning about how my quads had turned to concrete like they always do after squats. I do a lot of whinging between sessions at the best of times, without it being weights related DOMS.

Sunday was time for the Brighton Half Marathon. Got up nice and early, decent breakfast, down to the seafront waaaay before the start time. Lots of gentle running up and down the marina to try to get my legs to loosen up. No such luck. All that warm-up really served to do was give me a taster of just how hard the wind was blowing, and just how hard it was going to make this flat course feel. I also found myself trapped by the crowds the wrong side of my start pen, so ended up in the group looking at 2hr+ times. Massive kudos to those who brave those conditions for that long, and sorry on behalf of me and everyone else who'd got stuck in the same way for being arseholes about the way we had to weave our way through after crossing the start line.

I was aiming for a sub-1:40 run here, but I'd thrown that away knowing the conditions and thought I'd be happy with anything around the 1:45 mark. I set off at 4:45/km pace anyway to see how long I could last in the hope I could get close to the original target, or at least learn something about hanging on later in the race.

This thing was a bastard though.

The start was against the wind, then you turn to go with the wind, but slightly uphill and weaving through those crowds. Turn around to come back down and back into the wind for a few km. Those winds were in the 30mph range, so it felt truly like running uphill. Then we'd peel off the seafront for a couple of kilometres and a bit of respite, before what must've been 7 or 8km straight into that wind again. Pace dropped down into the 5mins/km range during that stretch and the 1:40 slipped away.

The course then turns around at the lagoon and we felt the wind on our backs for what felt like the first time. 5km to go, time to push and see what happens. Turns out that I couldn't claw it all back, despite finishing at 4:16/km pace. I crossed the line at 1:40:58. More than happy enough with that, considering that was the windiest race I think I've ever been in. The bonus is that Strava reckons the course was a bit long by 250m or so and that my actual half marathon time was 1:39:42 – I'll take that. I hope I could get somewhere into the 1:38 region with an easier bit of weather.

The important part of this whole thing was to establish a base line. I want to get round the 60km of Bewl in under 6 hours, which means getting around each lap in 2 hours. Very unscientifically, I feel like having a 1:40 half marathon in the bag relatively early in the block gives me confidence that going at 2 hour pace will give me the extra distance I need. It's a good little marker that I'm on the right track, but we'll see how realistic that was in May!

Next week looks a bit easier on the plan, which I'm looking forward to for sure. That said, this week looked pretty easy on the plan a few weeks back...

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