Project RFP: Weeks 17 to 20

I think it is fair to say that this final block of training was more of a procession to the end of the project! Having unexpectedly taken 37 minutes of my 50k PR in Week 16 the wheels kind of came off the bus. I had expected to reach that goal in Week 20 and once I had it in the bag 4 weeks early the motivation took a tumble.

The Project itself has been a phenomenal success with 50k PB, a 20 mile win, a 5k 2nd, two 4th places (marathon and half marathon) and 14th at a 10k with almost 1500 runners!

If anybody is struggling to structure their training I would highly recommend ‘Relentless Forward Progress’ by Bryon Powell. It not only provides structure, but I found it also provided balance with enough time for recovery and life outside of running.

Having a consistent template to work with week on week was extremely helpful with staying focused and motivated and as I mentioned above, it really worked for me. The flexibility of the program was also refreshing – I cut the first 4 weeks from a 20 week training plan and some weeks the recommended mileage was increased or reduced (sometimes radically) based on feel.

Week 17 (September 24th – September 30th) (53.6km Planned – 37.2km Completed)

I ran only once during the week, a peaceful morning jaunt for a grand total of 4km before heading into London to see Harry Potter at the theatre with Sarah. I ran twice more this week, one of which was a 25km trail effort at what I hoped to be my King’s Forest 50k pace. I felt great after the run but with reflection over the next day or so I realised I was feeling quite tired out and faded after. My mind started to wander to other options and I started to consider taking a break.

Week 18 (October 1st – October 7th) (77.4km Planned – 36.4km Completed)

As Week 18 commenced I fell apart a bit as I felt under the weather, add into this mix a fair amount of stress at work and it was clear that the ‘relentless’ in forward progress was rapidly disappearing! Sarah entered a 5k which was to be her first ever race and so I decided to throw myself into the mix and unexpectedly finished 2nd. After the race I made the decision to drop down to Half Marathon at Kings Forest – my body and mind were clearly starting to rebel against the thought of another 50k and once I’d sent the e-mail to the Race Director I felt much better!

Week 19 (October 8th – October 14th) (43.6km Planned – 18.4km Completed)

I ran a grand total of twice before racing a local 10km during Week 18. The first run I did was with Sarah in the cold and rain to complete her first ever headtorch night run on the road. The second was a solo effort over 3.5km which was quite enough for me! On Sunday, I lined up to race again. This time 10km, and again Sarah was there on the start line too (I think she might actually be getting into this running thing)! My race report for an unexpected course PB and 14th place finish:
I thoroughly enjoyed this race, last year I hated it and ran a minute slower finishing in 39th! I started on the front row and from the get go my legs felt good and I felt laser focused. The only thoughts in my head throughout were form – head up, relax shoulders, increase pace as you pass. It seems to have worked a treat! I was in 10th up to 4k but lost 3 spots on the hill up to 5k (what can I say, I’m used to fast hiking hills!) and then once we crested I made a concerted effort to pick up my pace and stick to the heels of the lead lady. Approaching 8k I was starting to feel the suffering a bit and backed off a little on slippery ground, at this point I dropped into 14th which woke me up. Again, I focused on the back of the guy who overtook me and tried to stick with him. I was determined not to lose any more spots over the last kilometre and put what I had left into it. After crossing the line I grabbed my drop bag, changed into a dry top and put my coat and buff on. I headed back to the finishing straight to wait for Sarah and to cheer her in on her first ever 10k race. She did brilliantly.

Week 20 (October 15th – October 21st) (71.1km Planned – 40km Completed)

I was glad to see Week 20 arrive and early in the week I started to consider what I would focus on next. But that’s for another post on another day! ProjectRFP_complete Sarah and I headed to Suffolk and peaceful AirBnB for a weekend away and I put in yet another unexpected race performance over a distance I don’t normally race at! 4th at a trail half marathon is no small accomplishment in my eyes and I think this 20 week training block has shown how far I have come since taking up running in April 2011. I’ll wrap up the final post from Project Relentless Forward Progress with my race report from the King’s Forest Half Marathon:
I’m very happy with the culmination of Project Relentless Forward Progress. I went off hard from the gun and went into second after about 500m with a view to building a gap between me and everyone else – the winner had the same idea and absolutely smashed it, finishing 6 minutes in front of the field! Around 12km in I felt like I was struggling so I backed off a little until 15 or 16km. At this point I knew third and fourth were closing in as I saw behind at a convenient corner. A race was most certainly on and I did my best to summon a fast finish over the last 5km but it wasn’t to be! With about 2km to go I was overtaken by two guys and dropped into 4th. I had a last ditch attempt to stick with them but there was nothing left in my legs and I finished about 90 seconds outside the trophies. There you go though, not really my distance and only the second longest run I’ve done in a month! My PB on the road is 1:28 so I am proud of my trail effort here.

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