”The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
- John Bingham, Runners World
December 7 2011: So, in a moment of madness 6 months ago I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for a marathon. I’ve been running for a few years and do 2/3 half marathons a year so you may be thinking that a marathon wouldn’t be that big a deal. Wrong. I’ve really struggled with my running this year. I’ve done the races and put in the miles but it’s been very hard going both mentally and physically and I don’t know why. I’ve now had a break for a couple of months and am hoping to be ready to prepare for a marathon.
I’m about to start my training next week and as I’m a firm believer that the more people you tell about something, the more likely you are to do it, I’m going to post up a weekly update on my training. I’ve got no idea how my body is going to cope with doing twice its normal training mileage AND eating relatively healthily! I can’t even think about the actual marathon as that’s too scary right now.
I’m doing a 16 week training programme aimed at finishing in 4:30 or less, but spread over 18 weeks to give myself leeway for weather/injury/laziness.
April 15, 2012 isn’t very far away. Wish me luck!
Update on April 16, 2012: I survived the Marathon! I missed my goal time by 10 minutes but I’m ok with that. I’ve signed up to do another one next year so it couldn’t have been too bad – you can read about it here.
The last week! 35 miles including race – 4 miles intervals/3 miles slow/2 miles slow/RACE
All feeling easier this week. Legs nearly back to “normal” state. I’ve enjoyed doing some shorter runs for a change and they’ve all gone well. Looking forward to having the race over with now!
Week 15 training – 24 miles – 5 miles intervals/4 miles slow/5 miles including tempo/10 miles long run
Week 14 training – 35 miles – 6 miles intervals/5 miles slow/7 miles steady/17 miles long run
I had a sports massage this week which gave me a new lease of life. It was good to find out that I don’t actually have any injuries, I’m just not stretching enough. So I ended up with some really good midweek runs. The long run – I could feel myself stiffening up as I went so I’m obviously STILL not stretching enough – but at least I know what is wrong now! Looking forward to major tapering now! (and unfortunately I’ll need to watch what I eat too)
Week 13 training – 39 miles – 7 miles hills/6 miles slow/6 miles including tempo/20 miles long run
Another bad week unfortunately. Some niggling pains have got worse, and my right leg can’t cope with hills or even bending my knee today. I’m annoyed that I had to skip a run and cut another short but you have to listen to your body. Week 14 is the last “real” week of training and I’d really like to finish that and THEN begin tapering rather than having begun already! I’ll have to see how next week goes. On a positive note, I’m seeing lots of other runners out and about who look in worse shape than me which is a good reminder of how far I’ve come.
Week 12 training – 39 miles - 7 miles interval/7 miles slow/5 miles inc tempo/20 miles long run
Unfortunately after last week’s high it’s all been a bit too hard this week. My legs don’t have enough time to recover…so even the mid week runs are starting to feel hard. My 20 miler got off to a bad start when I realised my Garmin had died! When I finally did it I felt terrible from mile 10 onwards, which was really discouraging. But I finished it, figuring that getting used to overruling myself when I want to stop just because it hurts will also help me in the marathon when I went to stop. No idea how I will be able to do another 20 miler in a week though and if it gets too bad next week I will skip a run. I’m in too much pain now to care.
Week 11 training – 38 miles - 7 miles fartlek/5 miles slow/8 miles steady/18 miles long run
A much better week for some reason…I can really feel that my form has improved even though my body is pretty constantly tired now. I’m glad I haven’t picked up any injuries. These next few weeks are the weeks I have been dreading and they are feeling doable although of course hard. I did a different long run course which was better but still takes forever and is really boring. I tried not walking to eat and drink and it was ok, it’s amazing how your body does eventually adapt to what you practice. I had such a good week running that I even wrote a blog post about it.
Week 10 training - 36 miles - 6 miles with hills/6 miles slow/8 miles steady/16 miles long run
The long run has really taken it out of me this week. I went on a trail rather than roads and it was a bit lumpier than I thought it would be, resulting in pains in all different areas. More than that, it was just exhausting. I think I will probably do this route next week though because it is traffic free and as it is out and back I can’t cheat on the route at all which is very tempting to do on these long runs when you end up back home a mile early because your route was shorter than you thought! I’ve got my highest mileage weeks coming up now, scary. Part of me would really love to stop now!
Week 9 training - 32 miles – 7 miles with intervals/7 miles slow/5 miles brisk/Half marathon race
Legs feeling quite strong this week which was nice. I’m going to try experimenting with different energy bars and recovery drinks for my longer runs. Oh, and I must confess – I skipped the long run last week! I couldn’t face the cold and not being able to do the route I’d had my heart set on. No more though! You can read about my half marathon here.
Week 8 training - 31 miles - 5 miles with intervals/7 miles slow/4 miles brisk/15 miles long run mostly at race pace
As I’m now at the halfway point and ahead of schedule with no injuries or ice/snow breaks I’m treating myself to spreading week 8 over two weeks. Bliss! Update: Well, I picked the right two weeks to not have to do much running. It’s been really cold here, and now there is some snow and ice. Today I was meant to do the long run but I did one of next week’s shorter runs instead. Tomorrow, I may or may not do the long run. It’s so cold out that my face and hands (even in gloves) are really hurting. Apparently it was -10 this morning which is as cold as it ever gets here. My muscles never warm up so it’s all a bit stiff running. I’m not sure whether doing a long run when it’s so cold or doing no long run is the better option! In any case, I will be tested next weekend doing a half marathon which is meant to be a test for the real thing.
Week 7 training - 32 miles – 6 miles with intervals/6 miles slow/6 miles steady/14 miles long run
A mixed week this week. For the long run, my legs were more tired than I thought they were so it was a VERY long run. I went out for the first time with one of those belts that carries your drinks bottle, it felt uncomfortable at times but I think it will be better than carrying my drink for 26.2 miles. I’m making progress on eating and drinking just the right amounts on the long runs. I think I will be ok with Haribo and Lucozade on the day.
Week 6 training - 27 miles – 5 miles with hills/5 miles slow/5 miles including tempo run/12 miles long run
I had 2 really good runs this week, the kinds of runs you rarely have where everything just works. If you run, you will know how unusual this is! So, although I’m a little bit achy I really enjoyed those, and have noticed big improvements in my times since the beginning of the month. I did have to do something I don’t like doing, which is swapping my long run day as I was too busy to do it on the right day.
Week 5 training – 24 miles – 5 miles with fartlek/5 miles slow/4 miles steady/10 miles long run
A better week this week. Possibly because after my hard week last week I decided to cut out all junky snacks/Pepsi Max/hot chocolate until the race. That’s quite a lot! Anyway, it does seem to have made the running feel better, and my new shoes are also helping.
Week 4 training – 23 miles – 5 miles with intervals/6 miles slow/4 miles mixed/8 miles including 10k race pace
A strange week. My last 2 runs were terrible, including a disappointing 10k race pace, so much so that I looked at the next training plan down from mine. That one is way too easy though so I am just going to stick with this one as the mileage seems right and hope that I get back on track with my pace. I’m starting to have regular aches now.
Week 3 training – 22 miles – 6 miles with intervals/5 miles slow/3 miles steady/8 miles long run
I found I don’t like hanging around waiting for daylight very much! I still ended up going out first thing for most of these runs. I’m starting to feel twingey knees and ankles, but this may be because I am using old shoes. I’m going to treat myself to start using my new shoes (of the same model) that I bought a while ago. Looking ahead, I don’t know how I’m going to fit in some of these runs around work but it’s only for a few months.
Week 2 training – 20 miles – 5 miles with intervals/4 miles slow/4 miles tempo/7 miles long run
Much easier this week, feeling like I’m back in my routine now. This training is already quite different than my standard HM training which didn’t formally include intervals, although I did them sometimes anyway. Basically, the interval and tempo runs although hard, actually feel like proper workouts and I think this training programme will help me become a better runner.
Week 1 training – 13 miles -3 miles slow/4 miles steady/6 miles long run
(I’ll be killing for a week like this in a month or two…) All done, no thanks to the weather which has picked this week to turn windy/rainy/even icy this morning. I feel happier now that I’ve started and already feel like I’m in my normal routine. My times are horribly slow but I’m not going to worry about that and hope that as they usually do, they will pick up naturally over the next few weeks.