Tuesday, 15 August 2017
Marathon Training Thoughts, And Puppies.
I had a letter yesterday from my dear friend Shauna who is close to finishing the couch to 5k programme. She got me thinking about running in all its shapes and forms. I know from experience what a massive achievement it is to complete your first 5k, and how good it feels to finish something you've worked so hard towards.
Meanwhile, I've had a tough week training-wise, probably still feeling the effects of the half marathon. I was feeling frustrated by it, then I looked back at my diary and realised I've run a fast Parkrun on Sat, did 6 miles on Sunday and 5 miles including fast intervals last night. A few months ago I would not have been able to do that without collapsing, so I think it's probably a matter of perspective. Once you start to clock up longer distances or faster times you get, if anything, more self critical and less satisfied with your own performance. I have a sneaky feeling that's why I've entered a marathon for next year and it's also why I choose more technically difficult races over the flat, fast road ones. I need to challenge myself.
I spent a little time yesterday working out a marathon training programme. It's quite an overwhelming topic to research when it's your first one and you have no experience to fall back on. I've ended up doing what I usually do, which is downloading a few examples, and then working my own one out based on those I've seen and how I've previously trained to up my distances. I'm relatively confident in the result but am still going to email it out to a few friends (thank you in advance, Kate and others!) to get their thoughts.
When M got home I gave him my version and one I'd found on the Edinburgh marathon site to compare. He went through both with me and thought I'd got enough miles in with enough rest days between to get me there. I can honestly say it starts to look a bit scary when you see the miles you need to run in order to be fit enough to do a marathon mapped out in calendar form stretching over, in my case, five months of training. We're talking, once the first month is done, of an average weekly mileage of around 30 miles, split into various distances with one big run increasing from 14-20 miles every other week and four days of training back-to-back. It's nothing like training for a half. I can quite see why running club buddy Dan told me he's decided to stick with half marathons because they are easier to achieve and don't require months and hours of training, yet they are still a very respectable endurance distance.
I've also been advised by more experienced runners to get a few hefty competitive runs in in the weeks prior to the marathon. This means distance and tough terrain for stamina, and also choosing at least one race that has a large field so I have some experience of running with 10,000 other competitors before I hit Edinburgh and it's 40,000. It's all good advice, but trying to work these in to the training programme so you get the right miles in at the right time takes some juggling. There is a coastal trail series of runs organised by Endurance Life which tackle some really beautiful but tough landscapes all round the British coastline. They offer four distances from 10k up to ultra marathon. The half marathon options often take in 1000 metres of climb, and can be more like 16 mile runs, so they aren't for the faint hearted, but they would be a good training for Edinburgh so that's one solution.
I lay in bed this morning thinking about routes, because mapping the runs out in a calendar is only half the story, you've got to work out where you're going to cover the miles. I found myself thinking about Ed Whitlock, the Canadian octogenarian who blasts marathon world records whenever he runs. His training is around his local cemetary. The obvious solution for me is to work mine around my existing runs, which in reality probably means running laps. As the land I run through is so beautiful I don't think this will be a big problem but it's still something to consider. Laps can be soul-destroying but I'm hoping they'll work for me.
Friend Peat advised me to allow enough time to factor in four or five 20 mile runs prior to the race, when you add this to a 3 week trailing off phase and factor in enough time to get up to being able to run 20 miles, and then put in a week or two between these long runs you start to see why it takes four or five months to be ready.
M, being that much more experienced, kicks his marathon training off about two months prior to a race. His autumn marathon is the start of October and he's already banging out two sets of 9 mile runs in a day and will be heading off for his 20-miler next weekend. I obviously have to approach it differently, giving myself plenty of time to see how it all works out and how I respond to the challenge that learning how to run a marathon presents.
Friend and ultra-runner Brenda summed it all up perfectly when she emailed me last week: you're going to get a lot of advice. Listen to it all, decide which bits work for you, and then it's probably best to disregard 90% of the rest.
It's a learning curve.
Hope you're all well?
I'll leave you with a photo of the latest members of the family: my sister's retriever Toffee gave birth to nine little pups yesterday morning. Here they are, only a couple of hours old. Altogether now: ahhhhhh!