Elliptial Cross Training

Road to Berlin Blog 8 - Week starting 27 August 2018 (3 weeks to go)

Over the next few weeks I'll be explaining how a normal guy with two daughters, a wife and a full time job can try and realise his dream of running a sub 2.30 marathon in Berlin on September 16.  

This time two weeks ago I was scared; scared my dream was over and that I wouldn't even be able to get on the start line. 


Things are not perfect now, but I'll (99.9%) be on that start line and I've got a very good chance of reaching my dream.  I've done 2 excellent marathon specific runs and spent a lot of time on an elliptical cross trainer (XT).   My injury is still there, peroneal tendons don't just heal over night, but I'm managing it and feeling positive.  


It was very helpful having the bank holiday weekend and I took a day of leave to allow me time for a long session Tuesday.  Due to my injury plans changed so Monday was my session day.  The plan was to do a gentle warm up and then try and run as close to goal marathon pace as possible for an hour.  I didn't feel good as I jogged from the car towards Willen Lake (my go to session arena).  I was worried my injury wouldn't be able to take it; to add to the potential for damage I was wearing new Adidas Adios racing flats that I was planning on using on marathon day.  Not the ideal situation, but I needed to try them out at some point.  


Willen is not completely (Battersea Park) flat, but is pretty good, just a few undulations.  To help my injury I went anti-clockwise (to avoid turning right as much as possible, which was uncomfortable) and started on a nice flat bit, but the wind immediately blew into my face; not a fun start.  The first mile ticked off in 5.43; almost exactly on goal pace, the following miles ticked off in 45, 47, 47, 38.  When sheltered the pace felt pretty good, but into the wind it was horrible; I felt very jealous of anyone able to train in a group.  When this is all over I can't wait to go back to training with others with similar aims; it's a lot easier to find someone who wants to be running sub 15 5Ks than it is for 2.30 marathons in Milton Keynes.  The second half was harder, but that's to be expected (although my heart rate stayed consistent at 170 bpm).  I clocked 5.50, 44, 48, 54, 40; finishing the hour with 10.4 miles (5.46 avg, almost bang on goal pace).  I jogged 4 miles to warm down, I could feel my muscles stiffing up, but I was very satisfied with my morning.  


On Tuesday I was stiff.  It hurt, but it was the good kind of stiffness.  I managed to pull myself out of bed and do some stretching and rollering.  It....was....not.....fun.  After family breakfast and a bit of playtime I put Lexi in bed and headed out to XT.  


I'd been pointed in the direction of ​Andrew Leveson (and his coach Tom Craggs).  Andrew has some superb times (including 2.25 at Berlin last year) when mixing cross training and only around 30 miles per week of running.  This gave me a huge amount of hope and they both gave me some good advice on Twitter.  One bit from Andrew particularly stuck in my head 'the work is mostly done at this stage.  So really XT will mainly help you avoiding going stir crazy'.  Along with their advice I'd worked out that I could handle higher resistance levels on the XT; so much of endurance running is psychological.  I feel as tired after 15 mins on the XT as I do after 55 mins, I've just got to keep going!  At around 60% resistance I'd been able to get my heart rate upto 140 (similar to easy/steady runs), sweat profusely and after workouts feel really good.  

On my first go on the Nomad Glide the machine told me I'd burned 550 calories in the hour, now I was able to do 800.  I know these things won't be 100% accurate, but it's given me such a confidence boost.  The machine has a whole host of sessions available on it, but in all honesty I've just been adjusting the resistance manually and trying to maintain pace like I would whilst out for base easy/steady runs.  

The first hour on Tuesday lunchtime was tough at first, but once I got going my legs loosened up.  I even managed another hour in the evening; I wasn't expecting that when I first woke up!  My ankle still felt tender and I wouldn't have fancied running on it, but I was able to do 2 hours of quality exercise on the Nomad Glide; it's been such a huge help having it. 

The plan was to do the same on Wednesday, but as I was back at work it would mean a 6am start and to then quickly shower, dress, shove down some toast and then jump in the car with Sarah and the girls who were heading to nursery to drop off Lexi for the day.  Work was fine, but around 4pm I felt very tired; Sarah picked me up just before 6 and we headed home.  I helped feed the girls and then do bath/bed time, before heading back out to the the garage.  Funnily enough I didn't feel like a hard effort.  I managed to get started and gradually my legs woke up; they felt heavy and it was a lot harder than the morning - I settled for 40 minutes.  

Thursday was almost identical; fine by me; I decided to be sensible and rest on Friday.  With just over 2 weeks until Berlin it would be stupid to drive myself into the ground. 


After I published last week's blog one of my big inspirations (2.20 marathoner, married and dad of 2) Russell Bentley tweeted me and said 'rest it, don't test it'; I ignored him.  I still thought I wanted one decent paced long run to give me confidence that I could really run a marathon with my injury in a time I could be proud of. 

On Saturday morning I planned a nice route around countryside villages north of MK and left home bang on 7am (a nice change from the pre-5am starts of a few weeks ago); Sarah is getting back towards full strength and is able to handle both girls for a couple of hours. 


My injury still didn't feel anywhere near 100%, but I pushed on.  I had bought some fancy CEP calf sleeves to see if they'd add some support, after a mile I had to quickly pull them back up; rubbish!!  The weather was gorgeous and the scenery superb; the only negative was the undulating terrain which wasn't ideal when I'd done little hill training. After about an hour the temperature began to rise and on a pretty big climb I started to feel very tired, I took the sensible option of stopping for a few minutes to buy a bottle of water and took a gel, it was a wise move. 


With 13 miles (in 1.21) under my belt I started to feel great (probably something to do with the caffeine!).  My pace was just above 6 mins per mile and I decided that for the next 30 minutes I would push a bit harder and get down towards goal marathon pace on tired legs.  This went really well and between miles 14 and 20 I averaged 5.57 per mile with heart rate consistent on 166 beats per minute.  I eased down the last 2 miles and finished 22 miles / 35km in 2 hours and 15 mins averaging 6.10 per mile.  To go sub 2.30 at Berlin I'll need to average around 5.40 per mile which won't be easy, but this run shows I can do it.  

On Sunday I was very stiff and sore and thought sleeping in was the best option.  By the afternoon the injury soreness had subsided and it was just tired muscles; a good kind of discomfort like on Tuesday.  I wanted to do a bit more time on the XT to loosen my legs; but 20 minutes into my early evening session (with Francesca asleep with me in her cot on top of the drier) I was called inside as Lexi was being very mischievous!  Once again having exercise machines at home paid off; if I was outside running I could easily have been 3 miles from home (and probably not contactable) and come home to a very unhappy wife!  

This is not at all how I envisaged the last few weeks of my marathon training, but after the uncertainty and worry, I'm so relieved that the last few days have gone so well.  I plan to XT through this coming week (including a couple of sessions with a bit more higher intensity) and do a decent steady 13 mile run next weekend before starting to taper properly.  

All my girls and my parents are accompanying me to Berlin, it's going to be a great weekend and I can't wait to celebrate with them afterwards.  Whatever happens I'm proud of the work I've put in and so appreciative of all the support I've been given.  

Week Summary (starting 20 Aug)

Mon AM 18 (inc 1 hour close to goal MP)

Tues AM 1 hour XT PM 1 hour XT

Weds AM 1 hour XT PM 40 mins XT 

Thurs AM 1 hour XT PM 40 mins XT 

Fri rest

Sat AM 22 (6.10 avg)

Sun PM 20 mins XT

Total: 40 miles + 6 hours XT