Running to Berlin, Weeks 13 & 14: Back From Covid

After having the past three weeks wrecked by covid, it was crunch time. To have any hopes of a half decent time in Berlin, I needed to get the ball rolling again these two weeks. And I did. Let’s get on to how it went.

Weekly Summary — Week 13 (first week after covid)

  • Total Distance Run: 112 km (69 miles)
  • Long Run: 30.4 km (18.9 miles) @ 4:28/km (7:11/mile)
  • Workout 1: Two sets of 8 x 200m w/ 30 sec recovery
  • Workout 2: 5 x 5 min w/ 1 min jog recovery

I started the week with three days of primarily easy running. From experience, I know that starting up with workouts too soon will result in another setback, rather than quickly boost my fitness.

On Tuesday evening, I added two sets of eight 200 metre pickups. As expected, getting the heart rate up did not feel great. And, mechanically, it was challenging after nearly a month of no faster running.

My first thing resembling a workout came on Thursday. Hopping on the treadmill, I went for five times five minute reps, with 60 second jog recoveries. Normally, I would start out at around 16.5 km/h for this type of workout, and progress it a bit. Overly cautious, I started at 15 km/h, progressed to 15.5 km/h through the first four reps, before hitting 16 km/h for the last.

Signs of life, if nothing else!

My long run for the week took place on Saturday, as we were travelling on another family holiday in the evening. Not doing my long run on a Sunday feels like swearing in church, but sometimes you have to adapt. And I’m nothing if not flexible 😉

This long run gave me some belief that I still have a shot of running a half decent marathon in Berlin. After an easy first half, I picked it up a bit on the back half. I worked hard, and my heart rate showed it (stats on Strava) – but overall it was comfortably strenuous.

Now, if I could just get in a decent training week while on holiday in hot Spain, without getting sick again, perhaps there’s hope? A tough ask, sure, but I was motivated to give it a go.

Weekly Summary — Week 14 (while on holiday in Spain 🇪🇸) 

  • Total Distance Run: 118 km (73 miles)
  • Long Run: 37.6 km (23.3 miles) @ 4:28/km (7:11/mile)
  • Workout 1: 4 x 4 km progression from 4:38-3:52/km (7:27-6:13/mile) w/ 90 sec jog recovery
  • Workout 2: 3 x 2 km @ 3:58/km (6:23/mile) followed by 3 x 1 km @ 3:42/km (5:57/mile)

Let’s get back to the regular format for this, and the remaining four weeks, and look at each day.


With daytime temperatures from 30°C / 90°F and beyond, running during the day was not an option in Spain. Since you don’t want to spend all day on holiday thinking about when and what to eat; instead you just want to enjoy your day with the family without any concerns beyond having fun!

So, to minimise the impact my running had on the vacation, I opted to make this a week without any doubles, and do all runs in the early morning. Even around 6 AM, the temperatures were still around 25°C / 80°F. I was excited to see how I’d cope.

On the first morning, I took it very easy to make sure I didn’t accidentally overdo it. The pace was leisurely, and my heart rate was bang in zone 1. Even still, I knew I had to be mindful of these runs going further into the week. I’m more accustomed to doing my easy mileage split up into doubles.


The first workout of the week was all about trying to get my legs used to some faster running after the covid layoff. 

I started up with what was essentially a 4 km warm-up at 4:38/km (7:27/mile). It was interesting to see that my heart rate was low for the pace, and never threatened to get out of zone 1. Good signs.

The next three reps, I increased the pace gradually:

  1. 4:16/km (6:52/mile)
  2. 3:58/km (6:23/mile)
  3. 3:52/km (6:13/mile)

As soon as I dipped under four minute k’s, it became a bit of a struggle. It’s as if four weeks without any faster running has diminished my conditioning to faster running. Strange things! Either way, a good workout to put in the bank.

While the heat wasn’t a big problem, I certainly noticed it once I sped up. The heart rate shot up much faster than I’d expect, almost bypassing that moderate intensity zone (zone 3) and going straight into threshold territory.


A rather uneventful run. Just shy of an hour and a half in zone 1. As is once more apparent, I’m trying to compensate for no doubles and generally lower mileage by extending these easy runs.

The run ended with a swim. If you never finished off a run by going for a swim in the Mediterranean Sea just as the sun comes up, I can recommend it. It’s no less than a spiritual experience.


For my second workout of the week, I wanted to get some volume around that four minute k mark, and then something a bit faster.

I averaged 3:57/km (6:21/mile) for the 2000 metre reps, and then 3:42/km (5:57/mile) for the 1000 metre reps. The heart rate was decent, but by the end I was pretty beat.

In fact, I had planned on finishing with some faster 500 metre reps. That simply was not on the cards, as my legs went on the last 1000 metre rep. A clear sign that I was right at the limit. As I wrote in the workout description, I think I underestimated the toll of keeping up with the kids all day, in the heat.


After another busy day on Thursday, I had a lot of trouble sleeping. It took a long time to fall asleep, and I slept fitfully throughout the night.

For me, trouble with sleep is the most obvious sign that my total “life load” is too high. I immediately decided to make Friday a rest day from running. As Friday progressed, I thought I had left it too late, as I felt like I was coming down with another round of illness.

Fortunately, as the evening rolled around, I started to feel better again. My wife–delicate and polite in her phrasing as always–pointed out that I’d been burning both ends of the candle this week. Clearly, that was the reason why I felt so shitty.

She was correct, of course. This is not even the first time this summer I underestimated the amount of stress a family holiday causes. It’s a good kind of stress, for the most part, but it certainly reduces your ability to productively absorb training load.

I need to be more mindful of this going forward. As a result, I’ve decided that in the future, I will avoid workouts while on holiday with the family. Not just that, I don’t intend to have any training plans that coincide with future family trips. 

Only jogs, and only if I feel like it.


That’s for next time, though. On Saturday, I felt fine again, and went out for another longer easy run. Nothing special to report.


Ah, the long run. The highlight of a marathoner’s week.

With four weeks to go until the Berlin Marathon at this point, there was no avoiding it: I needed a solid long run this week. Preferably 40 kilometres, or three hours, whichever came first.

The fact that we spent 12 hours travelling from Spain to Norway–with two kids aged 1 and 4 😅–was not enough to negate the fact that it had to be done. Had to.

So I did it. And, for almost two hours and 26 kilometres I felt surprisingly good. Then the hammer hit me. The last third of the run was an absolute sufferfest. Quite frankly, it was comparable to the final 10 kilometres of a marathon.

To keep going was stupid. I was under fueled, and bonked badly. But, on this night, I needed to go there. To prove to myself that I had the necessary long run in me. Physically, it cost me at least a couple of days of extra recovery–I went that deep into the well. But mentally, I got a taste of what’s to come in four weeks.

And I’m starting to get ready. Despite the fact that my fitness is not where I had hoped, I’m getting ready to test myself. To see what I’ve got. To discover what I’m made of, and how deep I can dig.

Four more weeks. Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out.


July 27, 2023


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