After the ups, downs, and general confusion inherent in a general election week it was good to put my entry in for the Chester Marathon which takes place on 10 October; whatever spurious toing and froing is involved in forming a workable coalition, at least an autumn marathon lends a degree of certainty to training if nothing else. It is now 18 weeks away.
With my only DNF at Blackpool in April, I’m obviously keen to redress the balance and give a good account of myself in October. With the passing of time and an honest conversation with myself (and with a far more experienced runner who has lent me a supportive and challenging word or two) it’s clear why Blackpool ended in a DNF: I was simply undertrained. Or at least I was undertrained for what I wanted to achieve, which was a time between 3 hours and 3 hours 15 minutes. Lesson well and truly learned. I hadn’t done enough.
Since that point I’ve had one main objective: steadily increase the mileage. It’s clear that a serious attempt to get anywhere nearer to three hours in October is going to require running a far higher mileage than I have ever run before. With this in mind, I have spent the last 8 weeks building up to last week’s 53 miles. The average for the last four weeks has been 50 miles per week. Over the next few weeks I’ll be increasing this in order to get in the 80+ plus mile weeks which are outlined in the P+D schedule that I’ll be following. So far it feels manageable. Just.
But it’s not all been about getting the miles in, I’ve also managed to get some quality work in too. Obviously, given that I spent a lot of time last year limping around with an injury, I’ve been mindful of my right calf. My main concern this year is remaining injury free. However, I’ve managed to run a 5K PB of 18:27; I’ve set a Bolton parkrun PB of 19:29; run a 10 mile PB (for training) of just under 1:09. I’ve also had good runs in the Haigh Hall trail race and Henderson’s End fell race…
…all of which sets me up nicely for the next 17 weeks. I’ve also done some fartlek and hill rep sessions as a way of starting to get my legs to turn over a bit quicker and to prepare them for the sessions to come. I’ve also managed to get my weight down to 12St 8Ibs and I have had moments where I have felt much easier and freer while running. At 6 feet 2 inches, I could still afford to lose more – and every pound lost is one less to carry around 26.2 miles – but I’m certainly not going to get caught up in the trap of obsessing about it.
The schedule for the 18 week build up is based on that outlined in the book Advanced Marathoning, After speaking to various sub 3 marathoners and assiduously reading everything that I can online, this appears to be the schedule that many place their trust and confidence in. I’ve spoken through my plans with another runner and have had to tweak some of the sessions to fit around family and work commitments. I’ve also had to adjust a few sessions so that I can accommodate the club races that I want to take part in; but I trust what sub 3 hour runners have told me and I’m electing to stick as closely as I can to the plan as is set out in the book.
So, last week’s training looked like this:
Monday: warm up, Burnden Road Runners club challenge timed uphill mile, cool down
Tuesday: really easy 3 miles (legs still felt battered from last Thursday’s fell race!)
Wednesday: 12 @ 7:31 pace
Thursday: easy 5 miles
Friday: easy 10 miles off road
Saturday: Bolton parkrun @ 6:54 pace
Sunday: AM – easy 5, PM – 9 @ 8:11 pace (family commitments meant I had to split the runs)
Total: 53.6 miles
Next week’s training introduces structured strides on Tuesday with a session including 10 x 100 metres. The main event for the week is the Freckleton Half Marathon on Sunday. My target time here is, naturally, 1:29:30 which equates to 6:49 miles. This will be right on the edge of my comfort zone at this point in time. I ran a couple of recents 10 miler at 6:48 pace, whether I could hold on for another 3 miles is highly debatable, but I’m up for the challenge. Either way, with a PB of 1:36:12 (set at Freckleton last year), I’m confident of being able to smash this. Freckleton is a relatively fast, flat course and the thirteen miles of the race should take my mileage for this week to 57.