I may not have posted much since proudly crossing the London finish line way back in April, but rest assured the feet have not been as idle as the hands!
That’s because I’m now seven weeks into another 16 week marathon programme – yes, another marathon, which will be Chester on 4 October.
It has taken me a long time to make my mind up about whether it’s too soon after London to take on another event and the training commitments that go with it. In fact I only entered Chester at the weekend, despite having kicked off the training back in June.
Truth be told, I’ve missed not having a structured training programme. I did keep running two or three times a week immediately after London, but it was hard to stay motivated. It also felt strange not having a goal to aim for.
And for my next marathon that goal is about improving my time and getting closer to the four hour mark. I loved the whole London experience (my marathon debut) and it’s a day and a challenge that I’ll never forget, made stronger still by fundraising for a great local charity.
However, there was a very small tinge of disappointment at having finished in 4:17, because all the signs in training were pointing to four-ish hours. Don’t get me wrong, just making it home safely was an achievement in itself and I know London isn’t the place to go chasing a time or a PB because of the sheer scale of it and how busy the course is.
I learned a huge amount on that day. In particular the importance of fuelling and hydrating myself properly and the battle of will required to beat the dreaded wall. I hit rock bottom at around 22 miles, but got going again for a strong finish after 24. I’m excited at the prospect of applying all this to a new race and am taking a slightly different approach to my training to try and build up overall strength, rather than just distance in my legs.
I’m running four times a week – recovery pace on Tuesdays, tempo on Thursdays, speedwork / interval on Fridays and then the Sunday long run at marathon pace.
Speedwork has been a real eye-opener and will hopefully make a positive difference. I’m doing alternate miles – slow, fast, slow, fast etc. The challenge of keeping going on tired legs really comes to the fore, even though you may only be running a short distance of four or five miles. Good for your willpower too. Last week I clocked a 6m44s as my fastest ever mile – fab, until you realise you still have two more uphill ones to go. Let’s just say…they hurt!
Long runs are currently up to 12 miles, first time I’ve hit double figures since London. It’s going well, not as fast as I was pre-London, but bearing in mind it’s the summer and we’ve had some very hot days I’m happy with my progress. I may be a tad slower, but I am running more consistently on the long runs at an average of around 8m30s miles.
My final addition is cross training a couple of times a week to work on my core strength. Again, I don’t see issues in the legs in terms of covering marathon distance, but I do need a bit more general fitness and stamina to avoid tailing off beyond 20 miles.
So that’s the plan. I’m not putting excess pressure on myself. Improving my time is a goal, not a must. I’d like to think I can go better, but still haven’t lost sight about what an achievement it is to complete a marathon full stop, irrespective of how long it takes.
It’s also nice to be approaching a race in a much more low-key fashion than London. I’m not fundraising for Chester, so no extra pressure there. I’m not publicising it or telling everyone, just quietly plodding on and getting the training miles done. Quite refreshing to be honest, and a nice contrast to the spectacle and attention that surrounds the ‘big one’.
I’ll keep you posted as October draws nearer and we get back into big mileage territory. Hope you are all well and enjoying your running. Look forward to catching up on everyone’s blogs too. It won’t be that long until we find out about the London 2016 ballot...then, for the lucky few, the fun really begins!
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