Game changer

As the early spring marathons start to come along and excited posts about race numbers and final instructions show up, I am getting nostalgic about this time last year. I remember the long runs and the post-training cupcakes and the stress of trying to fit all the running around work and life. It worked out in the end, though, and on 8 April 2018 I ran a brilliant marathon and knocked 26 minutes off my previous time.

so much cake

Things I have done in the past at the same time as training for a marathon:

  • Travelled to Florida, where I attempted to go for a run but managed about 400m because the air was like soup
  • Wrote a MSc dissertation
  • Went through a multi-stage application and interview process for a job
  • Tried to fit the long runs around party conferences, leading to terrible early morning running around random cities with politicians

This time,  I have got fewer distractions – work is good, life is good – and I am sticking to the plan very well and mostly hitting the mileage totals each week. I’m training with a slightly modified version of the Hal Higdon Intermediate 2 plan, adding in two speedwork sessions a week. As I’ve noted in the weekly round-ups, it is a big mileage increase from previous plans and a massive jump from the last few months of 2018, when I was averaging about 35 miles a month. I’ve basically quadrupled that & I’m pleased with how good I feel, but I still need more sleep. It’s going to catch up with me at some point.

eyebags for days

I don’t often feel tired, but I don’t go to bed early enough and I usually wake earlier than I need to so the actual sleep hours are pretty low. I get concerned when I read well-meaning articles and advice about getting 8 hours’ sleep a night and genuinely I don’t know where people find the time for that in regular life, let alone alongside heavy training schedules. I got a bit obsessed with sleep last time and it was probably for the best as the night before the marathon is usually a bit restless. I will try for the same this time round.

At the moment, most of my running buddies are doing a different spring marathon – Manchester, Brighton and London are spread throughout April & we’re all slightly out of sync with each other. Chat often turns to tapering, which is no good if you’re still to do your peak weeks. My training plan is strong on maintaining intensity whilst dropping mileage, so the taper weeks will still involve speed work and five running days a week but it will take less time, which is ace. I am very excited.

I did look at mileage totals in the pre-planning stages and it seemed like a lot, but the actual weekly totals are still surprising me. I am running so much more than in my last training plans & I really hope the mileage pays off into a race pb, when I’m properly rested & have the race day adrenaline going. Long runs are feeling easier than they used to, & recovery times are a little faster. Overall the volume of running is more manageable.

I didn’t go over 100 miles in a month in 2018

I do worry that I’m not doing enough speedwork – hopefully I am, and I’m just panicking needlessly because THAT’S WHAT WE DO AT THIS STAGE. Self-coaching sounded like a great idea until the realisation that a coach is meant to provide positivity and moral support, which I am rubbish at doing for myself.

I have not always managed to keep up with the strength sessions, which is rubbish. I miss the gym, but running has to be prioritised.

If in doubt, tea & plan & Broad City

I’m still not sure whether to stick with a pacer for London. It won’t take my mind off doing the mental mathematics, & I will get a bit stressed if I start to struggle at any point. But it will be good company. I’ve had some great chats during marathons & people who are aiming for the same goal will be good to stick with.

30 days to go…

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