Abbey Dash 2017 training blog week 9/20
Back at the end of 2016 I set my first goal for 2017 – to run under 2:45 at the Manchester Marathon – and keen readers will know that I went and did just that with a 2:44:04.
I haven’t written up my plans for goal number two of the year, taking on the Abbey Dash, but I’ve been building up to this now for the past nine weeks – almost half way through the training block. I’ve written before about how this block started slowly (I mean really slowly, I wrote a second blog piece about it), but things have started to pick up recently.
Back in May I made a decision that building up for another half marathon in the autumn – having had a bit of a tumultuous training block leading up to the Manchester Half last year – I decided that building to a half marathon was going to be too much in terms of mental focus, stress and pressure. Instead the goal was to build for the Leeds Abbey Dash 10K, a race I’ve never felt that I’ve ever done myself justice at. I ran a 37:43 in 2014, and a 39:16 in 2015 – in 2014 I was probably a bit out of form, but also three years on I should be capable of more, and in 2015 I went into the race off the back of a weird muscular back injury. So room for improvement.
I also wanted to take on the 10K as I haven’t trained for it as a main goal for a long time. Both of my Abbey Dash efforts were off the back of no sustained work, and when I last took on the 10K as part of my training for the 2017 marathon, I went and ran (on a slightly long course) a 34:49 at 5:31 min/mile. On an accurate course this may have been worth under 34 minutes, so it was tempting to try and go for a 33 or 32 minute time.
So back to how training is going for this attempt at the Dash. I’m now almost half way through and everything is picking up nicely – my performance at the Firefighters 5 last week was really encouraging, I’m running my long runs at a nice comfortable pace and feeling able to push on, and when I go out to run an easy Monday run just on effort, the pace is surprisingly fast. I use the Strava Premium ‘Fitness & Freshness’ feature to track my training and how I’m comparing up to where I have been in the past, and the progress has been good.
I haven’t changed my training much – I normally feel like I have a good balance of mileage volume and speedwork. To get up to have the ability to run a hard 10K, I feel that I need to start by building a huge aerobic capacity, and then sharpen up later with some more specific work on the track. At the moment the big, big long run weeks are still yet to start, but those I have done have been strong, confirming that my form is coming back.
In terms of upcoming races to test my form, I’m deciding on whether to enter the Wetherby 10K in week 11 (I’m currently in week 10 of the training block), and then I have a track mile and a 5K in Hitchin, my old home town, in week 14, and I’m also considering entering one of the evening mid-week 5Ks as part of the EvenSplits 5K race series (with races coming up on 27 September and 25 October). Over the marathon I’d be happy to judge my race strategy purely on long run form, but for a shorter race that I’m targeting completely, pointers from shorter races are definitely worthwhile.
One of the good things moving into this more involved part of the training block in terms of mileage and racing is that I’ve finally passed my driving test, which means one less thing to worry about and focus on, and I get a whole bunch of hours back each week – so when I’m spending more on running, I’ll actually get some proper down time. As usual though for this time in the block, it’s good so far, but plenty more work ahead.