26.2!

Every year, Striders of Croydon (my running club)  offers a series of marathon training runs to prepare for the spring marathon season. Starting in early November at a mere 10-12 miles, and initially every fortnight, they become weekly from January and work up to 21 miles.

Last winter of course, unable to run due to my tendon injury, I missed the lot. The previous year, training for specific ultras, I ran some but on other Sundays was off reccing the courses. This year I’ve been enjoying running the majority of these training runs with my clubmates.

Because I wasn’t sure how well or fast my posterior tibial tendon would heal, and to minimise the risk that I would push myself too far too soon and re-injure it, I haven’t entered for any spring marathons.  This has meant that I could back off in training if I felt I needed to. However, I have gradually been increasing the distances I’ve run, returning to running, rather than cycling, to and from the clubhouse for the Sunday runs, which adds a little under three miles each way onto the run.

Last Sunday I ran a total of 24 miles and felt tired but reasonably  comfortable, and I decided then to extend the following run to reach 26.2 miles. When I made that decision, I had forgotten that I was running the fourth and final Surrey Cross Country League match on the Saturday, so I came into Sunday with tired legs. However, I told myself that was excellent training! This was also the first week that the training group I was in decided to include a 1.5 mile section, after about 10 miles, at a faster pace – and I ran that stretch at about 8.15 per mile.

I have to admit that my legs did feel tired throughout, particularly from about miles 20 to 22, that my time wasn’t great (4 hrs 30 mins running time, longer including breaks at the club house etc.) and that I had to resort to Kendal mint cake, jelly beans and green-ear (vegetarian) Percy Pigs for energy (a contrast to last week when I ran 24 miles on nothing but my breakfast cereal and one vegetarian Percy Pig at about 22 miles). However, I -did- reach the 26.2 miles and that felt really, really good.

It’s nice to have been rewarded for my slow, sensible approach to returning to long-distance running. To have come through a weekend of a muddy, slippery five-mile cross-country race – much of it on a camber – followed by a marathon-length long steady training run, without overstressing the recovered posterior tibial tendon or any of the other tendons and muscles in my left foot and ankle, is just fantastic.

I still have quite a way to go to return to my previous level and speed of training, but now I have much greater confidence that I -will- be back on 50-milers within the next year!

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