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Running to Berlin, Weeks 4 & 5: Balancing Life and Running

Two more weeks have gone into the log. Here are all the details about my training since last time, and how I’m progressing with 13 weeks left until the 2022 Berlin Marathon.

If you subscribe to the newsletter, you’ll know that life got in the way of last week’s training log. That’s why this week’s report comprises two weeks worth of training. And, appropriately, the running theme is balancing life and running.

Weekly Summary — Week 4

  • Total Distance Run: 103 km (64 miles)
  • Long Run: 33 km (20.5 miles) @ 4:32/km (7:17/mile)
  • Medium Long Run: 16 km (10 miles) @ 4:25/km (7:06/mile)
  • Workout: Recovery week, no workout!

After last week’s half marathon, the main objective this week was proper recovery. That meant all jogging, and no fast running for most of the week.

Based on previous experience, I sometimes need even more than a week before I’m feeling good again after racing a half marathon. Unlike previous times, however, I felt more or less normal from the day after the race. A bit tired, but not excessively so.

By Thursday, I was feeling good (and restless!) and I decided to just allow myself to run by feel. The result was a fairly fast run—especially considering the fact that I was pushing a stroller. Still, I stayed true to my plan of keeping it easy all the way up until the Sunday long run. And that’s what I did.

Since it was a recovery week, and there are two weeks to cover here, I won’t go into the details of every single run.

PS: Yes, I did get out on Sunday evening for an extra run, to assure that I got above 100 kilometres for the week. Sometimes obsession gets the best of me!

Weekly Summary — Week 5

  • Total Distance Run: 112 km (70 miles)
  • Long Run: 32.8 km (20.4 miles) @ 4:18/km (6:55/mile)
  • Medium Long Run: None
  • Workout: 6 x 2000m @ 3:50-3:33/km (6:10-5:43/mile) with 200 meters jog recovery
Training log screenshot, week 25 of 2022

Sometimes life gets in the way of our plans. Even if you’re training for a marathon. For me, this week was an example of that.

A work engagement, coupled with a sick three year old staying home from daycare meant I couldn’t get through what I had planned. But, when you’re combining running with other, more important things in life—as most of us do—it’s a constant balancing act.

And, as you’ll see, I got something done. The week as a whole was also decent in the end, even if I fell short of the planned distance by six or seven miles. Thinking rationally, I know those miles don’t matter. Even if it does annoy me, they won’t be the difference between success or failure in thirteen weeks time in Berlin.

Monday

As always, Mondays are for recovery. Twice, at that. Going out for my evening run, I forgot my HR strap. Generally, a wrist HR sensor will give me junk data. If anything at all.

Inspired by this Reddit post, however, I decided to see if my Apple Watch is better than what I’ve experienced with previous Garmin watches—even when properly positioned. (I ditched my Garmin 945 LTE for an Apple Watch last summer, but that’s a topic that deserves a dedicated post.)

Looking at the HR chart, you’ll easily spot where I stopped to reposition the watch for optimal readings. Surprisingly, the heart rate data from that point on is sensible, and the numbers are in line with what I would expect based on perceived effort.

A bit of an eye opener, to be sure. I might experiment further to see if the watch reliably produces accurate readings. If I can drop one more gadget from my body while running, I’ll be happy to do it!

Tuesday

Because of a work engagement Tuesday and Wednesday, with some socialising in-between, I missed out on this week’s club workout. Instead, my friend Stian (who’ll be my roommate in Berlin this fall 🤝) and I lined up on the track in the early morning hours for a solid workout.

We put 6 x 2000 metres (5 laps, 1.24 miles) on the menu, and got after it. Easing into it, the first three reps were controlled between 3:50-3:45/km (6:10-6:04/mile) pace. Then we took it up a notch, and finished the last three in the pace range 3:38-3:33/km (5:51-5:43/mile).

All in all, a good session.

Wednesday

Off day due to previously mentioned work engagement. Or, more precisely, due to the socialising the night before.

I generally don’t consume alcohol these days. But, when I do, I always get sick the next morning day. Maybe there’s a connection? Either way, this was the first time we went out dining and drinking since I started at my current place of employment. For that reason, I decided to partake.

Was it the best choice for my training? Of course not. But, remember, it’s all about finding balance. Throughout a twenty week long training block, I have to be comfortable putting running in the passenger seat from time to time. 

This was a good way to practice doing just that. And I had fun, too!

Thursday

Back home, I was greeted by a sick three year old. With my wife away for the entire day, that meant no real openings for a run. A particularly challenging conundrum, given my Wednesday.

What to do? Well, you improvise, to get something at all done.

With the smallest one sleeping in her stroller, the little guy hopped in the car—which is right next to the treadmill. That way, I could watch him, and respond to his every beck and all.

All in all, it went better than expected. I got in forty more or less uninterrupted minutes of running.

Of course, when I try to repeat the success around bedtime, it all went pear shaped. Win some, lose some. So I never got to that second run. But one is better than none.

Friday

Summer arrived in earnest on this day. And, as the temperature approached 30 C (86 F), the conditions were less than ideal for running. Still, I needed to backload my week.

To avoid spending too much time with the one year old in the stroller, I split this medium long in two. As soon as her mother finished work, I went out again.

Back to back runs with only an hour or two between them are really challenging to me. I feel extremely sluggish as I start up again. But I got it done.

Saturday

Originally I had planned to run a 10.000m time trial with a few of my club mates this morning. With the oppressive heat, and near no acclimatisation at all, I decided to skip out.

Going to the well in very hot conditions is challenging far beyond doing the same in “normal” conditions. That meant the size of sacrificed training in the coming days would’ve been too big. Additionally, my goal was to get a proper assessment of my fitness. But a time in these conditions would obviously not be representative of what I’m capable of on a good day.

So, instead I went to spectate, and added in some kilometres of easy jogging to bump the weekly total.

Sunday

With the skipped time trial, and low overall load so far this week, I decided to make the long run into something of a workout. I hoped that an early start would let me avoid the worst of the heat, and felt fresh and ready to do some marathon specific work.

My plan this morning was to progress the pace throughout the first 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) or so. Then I wanted to tune into that marathon intensity with 2 x 5k.

As you can see above, it didn’t quite go to plan. I felt good through the “warm up” and even during the first 5k rep. However, starting the second, my legs were shot.

I think I could’ve pushed through the full 5k of the second rep. However, I’ve been telling myself to be smarter this time around. Getting through the full rep at the prescribed intensity would’ve required something like an all out race effort. That was not the plan this morning.

So I decided to call it quits just 2k into the second rep. With the benefit of hindsight, I’m still happy with this decision. It was the right call, if already a little too late.

A good long run to put in the log, nevertheless. One thing it did make it clear, however, is that I’m still not quite ready for specific long runs. At least not without slowing down quite a bit.

So that’s off the table for the next couple of weeks. Instead, I need to continue to build strength through volume, and accumulate faster miles during my one weekly workout. Then I’ll have another go at a similar long run workout in a few weeks time.

I now have two big training weeks coming up, to complete this current mesocycle. 1Not familiar with the term? Learn more about running training periodisation I will do my best to report on them in a timely manner, and you can make sure you don’t miss out by subscribing to the Run161 Newsletter. Just leave your email in the form below.

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By Lars-Christian Simonsen

Lars-Christian is the founder of Run161. He characterises himself as a student of the sport who is always looking to learn more.