Everything is going pretty well and very much on schedule as I head towards the last 3 weeks of training, although I had my first real mental battle a week ago on Wednesday. It was the morning after my hill session at Kelvingrove, so not a lot of recovery time, which I'm sure is a big part of it. I had planned around 15 miles along through Glasgow Green, past Shawfield, Rutherglen and Shawlands before heading back to the west end. The route turned out to be 13 miles, but felt like 26! These runs also just reaffirm my preference for long runs off-road. I could be running along within my comfort zone when suddenly a voice in my head says stop! Although this time my legs felt a bit heavier, and the voice started saying stop around 3 miles in. This run was definitely more about perseverance and endurance than enjoyment. I suppose that's what builds the mental strength!
My next run was just a 5 miler after work on the Friday. Not quite a fast-paced tempo run but really picking up the pace the more I got into the run. Waiting for me at home was a nice big icy bucket of water - yes the Ice Bucket Challenge! I got home to find the kids running about in their swimming costumes, excited about me nominating them. Not quite an ice bath but it felt particularly refreshing, a much nicer experience than I'm sure it's meant to be. I received a 2nd bucket for good measure!
Back to the long run on Sunday along the well-worn path of the WHW. Wasn't sure whether to do 18 or 20 but in the end did 20. It was a beautiful morning, though the first time my hands have felt really cold and taken time to thaw. Still playing about a bit with hydration and nutrition. Had my usual porridge with some honey, yoghurt and a banana for breakfast, accompanied by around 0.5ltrs of water and 2 shots of beetroot juice. I forgot to mention in my blog about beetroot juice that if you go to the toilet any time in the day after taking some, don't be alarmed when you see the colour of your urine. No, you haven't had a bleed anywhere, it is the beetroot that makes it turn pink.
Around the 9 mile mark I started taking SIS isotonic gels, which my stomach seems happy with, and they aren't sickly like many others. It's also interesting when I check my hydration bladder at the end of a run, and usually find I've drunk around half what I thought. So I made sure I drank small amounts of water regularly from the start to stay hydrated. Like the week before, my legs felt really good during the last 3 - 4 miles and recovery has been good. I did have a change of tact in the days afterwards though. I decided to forego my hill session at Kelvingrove park on Tuesday night, in favour of an extra recovery day and a fierce hill session on Wednesday.
For weeks now I've been running along the WHW and for long spells my eyes have been drawn to Dumgoyne hill (next to Glengoyne distillery) just past Strathblane. I'm expecting parts of Glencoe to be soft underfoot which is just energy-sapping, so I thought some proper fell running would be good preparation. So far I would say it's been my hardest session. Due to time restrictions, I managed to run for about 10k, which took about 75 mins. It was constant hills, so steep at points it was impossible to run. My calves and thighs were on fire during the ascent, and the brutality of the downhill left the front of my thighs screaming for a break. All in all, it was a total assault on my legs, but a great session.
The week finished with a nice little 5 miler after work on Friday, ready for another 20 on Sunday.