July 2020 Update

Every time I come close to putting together a new blog post things have moved on so quickly that it becomes out of date before I've even published it.  At the same time, training continues and is just a case of knocking out the mileage week after week, hoping, rather than expecting things to change for the better any time soon.

I'm starting to come to the conclusion that almost all racing will be off for the remainder of the year at the very least, other than perhaps the odd local race.  Whilst at the time of writing the rescheduled London Marathon is still on for early October, I think it is only a matter time before it is cancelled.  Most other big races have already gone - Berlin, Chicago, Boston, Great North etc. that I simply cannot see it happening.  I'm even starting to think that it is not an impossibility that most bigger spring races may no go ahead either, depending on whether the much talked about 'second wave' of Covid-19 actually happens.

In an earlier post I mentioned how my Valencia Marathon time was good enough for a senior England call up at either Toronto or Frankfurt.  Whilst I was always pretty pessimistic about my chances, it now seems rather academic as the former has been cancelled and I believe the latter is likely to go the same way in the next week or two.  Whether I will ever have been selected is now just a matter of conjecture.

I'm now beginning to think that as I'm soon to turn 39, my best marathon days could already be over if racing doesn't resume any time soon.  It would be a shame as it would be a case of what might have been, but if so, its out of my control and cant be helped.  In the meantime I will certainly keep going and have no immediate plans to scale back.  For as long as my body holds up and I can continue to put together some good training sessions, things continue as they are in a continued state of readiness.

As for recent training, things have been a bit up and down.  I felt really fit up to the end of May, but then I've had a few sessions that didn't go to plan and were a real knock to confidence.  With the benefit of hindsight, I think a huge chunk of this coincided with the heat wave we had and it was simply impossible to perform at the level I'm used to in those conditions.  I've also had a bad dose of laziness - a strange concept really when I'm doing best part of 100+ miles each week.  Each run has been a real drag to get done, harder sessions swapped for simple jogs, baling out half way through some harder efforts, swapping an outdoor run for easier treadmill runs etc.  The motivation is simply not quite as strong as it once was.  I think there has been an element of burn out so I have taken a couple of days off here and there to try and recharge although the motivational issues remain.  I guess its difficult at times where there is no race to focus for and as I've always trained by myself I don't have the advantage of group running.

The above being said, I'm still doing best part of 100+ miles per week so its not like I'm far away from peak fitness and in the first couple of weeks of July I've successfully managed to repeat the same sort of sessions I was doing late spring.  In fact only yesterday my dreaded 'acceleration' treadmill run was completed not only by going from 13.4kph to 18.9kph over the space of 55 minutes; but also for the first time on the Noble Pro I decelerated by 0.5kpm rather than going straight into a warm down.  Overall, I still feel I'm there or thereabouts and I'm still at racing weight and perhaps excepting a proper long run or two am more or less at peak shape.  On the flip-side I'm constantly nursing some niggles and the dreaded ankle issues that knocked me out for best part of a year feel like they are starting to flare up again - some things never change.

A few weeks ago just after lock down eased I went to the beach for a bit of relaxation.  Me being me, I decided to go for a run and I decided that due to all of the rough skin on the base of my foot it would be good fun and a bit of free exfoliation if I did it bare foot.  The plan was 5km out and come back the way I came, running along the edge of the incoming tide where it is firmer under foot.  All was going well until at 4km I could feel some warmth towards the front of my toes; at 5km the warmth become slightly sore; by 6km it was painful and at 7.5km I had to stop.  It was then a 40min hobble back to the start where upon inspection I had worn off all of the skin on my big toe on each foot.  Both toes became extremely oozy over the following days, resulting in trying to do some easy running whilst the toes were padded up and shifting my weight to other parts of my foot.  The inevitable result was a minor calf strain.  All was sorted about 5 days later, but an important lesson was learnt!

Chapel Point - Chapel Saint Leonards where I left behind half of my two big toes.

Future Plans
I have been thinking for a while about undertaking an multi-day ultra.  I've taken the plunge and paid the deposit for it and assuming it does go ahead it would be in April next year.  At this stage I don't want to say too much other than it is a very well established event, is long and it will be very hot!  On the assumption that this becomes my core focus then I will probably skip the spring marathon season (if there is one!).  I'm hoping it will give me renewed focus and am confident that my current training will put me in good stead, albeit I will need to think about specifity around late Autumn.  One for another blog.

I've also hedged my bets by entering a marathon in early November - not with any expectation that it will go ahead and it most certainly isn't a PB course, but at this point I'll take anything I can get.  Again, if nothing else I'm hoping it will be a cure to my lazinessitis.

Next Marathon?


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