OK, I’ve not done a specific training log entry before but for the next few weeks I’ll try and do one to let you know how my marathon training is going. Not that you’re probably interested but I will probably want to look back at this in the future to see where it all went wrong (or right)…
Many marathon schedules are based on a four month (or 16 week program) and the one I’ve been following is no exception. Actually, I found a couple of schedules, then merged them together to create what I’m trying to train to. The first thing I have to say is that a 16 week schedule has to come off of the back of some good base mileage. You can’t just get off of the sofa and start training for a marathon (although I’m sure many of the 30+ thousand people who run London each year do!). Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, London isn’t the only marathon in England. There’s plenty of others, oh, and they all happen to be 26 and a bit miles long (someone asked me if I was doing ‘a full marathon’ the other day).
Anyway, I’m currently just starting week 13 but I want to give a quick recap about how I’ve got to today…
Week 6 (w/c 21 Jan) - All was looking good - that is until I ran the Parliament Hill cross country race on the Saturday and then 18 miles on the Sunday. I was well and truly screwed and didn’t (and couldn’t) run at all for a good few days following. Total mileage: 45.
Week 7 (w/c 28 Jan) - After four days forced rest I was feeling a lot better at the weekend. The scheduled Sunday run of 20 miles turned into 15 because I didn’t want to jump straight into a such a long run after the trouble a week before. Total mileage: 25. Week 8 (w/c 4 Feb) - We’re back on track, and have a target race on the Sunday - The Chessington Valentines 10k. Saturdays BPTT was good and I was feeling ready for a good run on the Sunday. Oh, and how that all went to pot! I wasn’t well on Sunday morning. I struggled round the course and put in a respectable time, but I wasn’t in a good way. Total mileage: 35.
Week 9 (w/c 11 Feb) - After Sunday’s 10k I felt terrible (I even took a day off work - my first sick day in years) and didn’t run at all until an easy two miler the following Friday. This is really not what I wanted to be happening at this point during my training. Saturdays BPTT went well - infact really well and on the Sunday I put in a good 16.5 miles round Richmond Park. Total mileage: 25.
Week 10 (w/c 18 Feb) - After a good couple of days running at the weekend it was time to focus on the next key race - the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon on Sunday. The idea of these races during training is to get you used to running in a large crowd (not that I’ll need it for my marathon - last year there were only 180 finishers - and hopefully a similar number of starters!). It also acts as good pacing practice, working on fuel strategies (oh these lovely carbohydrate gels that I believe I’m now addicted to) and also a lovely break from the roads and parks of West London. I had a good week of training and followed my schedule exactly. I’ve written about the race already but overall I had a good run, but didn’t do as well as I’d hoped. The previous weeks lack of consistent training had probably caught up with me. That’s my excuse anyhow. Total mileage: 48.
Week 11 (w/c 25 Feb) - I managed a perfect training week (6 days running). Easy recovery run on Monday, a fartlek/speed/interval session on Tuesday, 7 miles easy on Wednesday. Thursday was a tougher affair altogether. After snoozing on the way home from work I’d been dreading this session. The plan was for 12 miles “steady” - which for me meant around 7 minute miling. Just a touch slower than my half marathon race pace (6:50) from the week before. I really wasn’t up for this - especially in the dark. Anyhow, I got home - washed a carb gel down with some Lucozade sport and shortly after set out. I won’t say it was easy but it wasn’t torture and I felt really good for doing it. I think the planned ‘rest day’ on the Friday helped get me through! Saturdays BPTT went well and shortly afterwards Sharon and I headed down to my parents house by the seaside. We were at a 40th birthday party on the Saturday night (water was consumed by both Sharon and myself) and dinner (if you could call it that) consisted of carb friendly muffins and crumpets! Not the greatest of preparation for Sundays long run. The new day morning dawned and after an breakfast I got ready for a 20 mile “easy” run. For all of my long weekend runs I’m now taking gels (at least two) and a drink with me and this is all part of the practice for the big day. There will be no suprises on race day - well, other than me never running that far before! Total mileage: 55.
A few people have asked me this over recent weeks - what time am I aiming for… Well, I’ve got a time in mind - which I’ll maybe share after the race!
There are a number of things that can go wrong nearer the big day - the weather, my fitness/injury (touch wood), and of course, the course. I say this as its not a flat course. Winning times over recent years have been around 2 hours 50 (I’m trying not to read into these ‘slow’ times too much as only around 170 people run it each year). Its a two lap course, with the first 6 miles of each lap apparently being ‘undulating’. I don’t know how tough it will really be until the day, but at least the second half of each lap, which therefore includes the final (tough) miles should be relatively flat.
Week 12 (w/c 3 March) - Monday was scheduled to be an easy 5 or 6 mile run but I chose not to do this - not because I was aching or anything after the previous days 20 miler, purely because I didn’t fancy running and was long overdue a swimming session (I try and go once a week but have not been for about three weeks) so went to the local open air (but thankfully heated) swimming pool after work. As this was an “easy” day I didn’t want to push too hard and managed to get 30 continuous lengths of the 36 meter pool. I’ve found that swimming is great post-run as its kinda like a massage, but you’re lying on a bed…or water, or something like that! This is all good training for the (almost half-Ironman distance) triathlon I’ve entered that takes place in three months time. Anyway, I’ve got another race to deal with first!
Tuesday was off to Ranelagh Harriers for a great interval session around Richmond Park. It felt great. My legs were full of energy and it was a good session - apart from the icy cold rain towards the end. On Wednesday I was working near Cheltenham and after checking into my hotel went out for an easy (well, it didn’t feel that easy) 10 miles around the city. After a two hour drive home on Thursday it was out for a shorter run - but a faster one at that (4 miles ‘brisk’, with mile jog either side of it). This is one of two (or three if I run fast at the Bushy Park Time Trial) speedier sessions I aim to do each week.
I ran just over 10k on Saturday, including a sub 19-minute 5k time trial. Sunday’s long run was the Datchet Dashers 20 mile training run which I really enjoyed - I ran it in 2 hours 33 which was just a touch faster than I’d planned for but it still felt fine. If I had to run another 6 miles I feel I would have been quite able to do so. Total mileage: 49.
Finally, in other exciting news this week I’ve at last ordered a road bike. I’ve been wanting to get one for months now and was finding it really difficult to choose what I wanted. Well, it seems like the delay was worth it as the bike I want had just been reduced in price. Bring on the triathlon season!
More weekly updates soon…