running blog


Marathon training

This time last year I ran my first marathon at Rutland Water and this week I finally started training for my second.

It is just as well I’ve got 5 months until the London Marathon because it gives me time to get back in shape having lapsed my running a bit recently (not to mention gained a few pounds) and as many marathon training plans are for 16 weeks it also gives me a month to build up gradually and to try out my own ideas.

I’ve thought a lot about my training. What parts of training for races have I found difficult in the past? What are my barriers? What do I find easy to stick to and most enjoyable? Which bits do I find hardest or require a lot of self-determination and effort to get on with and how I can avoid situations that I will find hard to complete?

I’m not over keen on long runs, less so when I have get out of bed on a weekend morning to run them (or anything really) and even less so to run them by myself. I am good about getting to BMF classes regularly, even when I am totally unmotivated to do any other exercise because it’s sociable and fun, I (quite) like shorter speedy runs, I can motivate myself when there is a bit of self completion involved or a self or social commitment to fulfil. Some of the traditional training plans with 4 or more days running fill me with panic and dread about being able to keep up with them after many weeks.

So where does that all get me to?

Midweek training and long runs (unless it’s a race with buddies), keep up regular BMF classes with only 2 or 3 additional runs each week. Weekends for rest and recovery apart from when I can get myself to parkrun or have a planned race.

I will go to BMF classes on Monday Wednesday Fridays, Run my long run Tuesday (unless I have a weekend race) and a do a Tempo run or intervals session or go run club on Thursdays, I may swap a BMF class or the Thursday session for a Saturday parkrun when I want or if I need to rest tired legs midweek but otherwise plan to have my rest days at weekends.

As I planned this out I had in the back of my mind that by December I would revert to a ‘proper training plan’ will lots of runs. However the more I researched the more I felt confident with my schedule. The runners World Smart Coach gives me a marathon plan with just 2 key runs per week (a long run plus a speed/tempo/pace run) with cross training or rest on other days, no different from may own plan. I’ve also had a look at the FIRST training program (Run less, Run faster) which has 3 key runs (track repeats, tempo run, long run) and two cross training sessions. Effectively I am following the Smart Coach plan and its mileage and pace details (which I will check are in line with those from the FIRST plan for my target marathon time).

My plan starts properly 16 weeks before VLM so in the meantime I’m getting accustomed to my 5 workouts and building up my total weekly mileage gradually in preparation.


Change of plan

My marathon training plan is for 5 runs a week and I have to admit that I’ve been stuggling to fit them all in, especially during the school holidays, while on the Isle of Wight and having visitors.  In the 4 weeks since I started I’ve only managed to run 5 times in the week of Thunder run and 3 of those runs were on the same day so that’s probably cheating.

Some weeks I’ve felt a bit stressed about the fact I’m not doing all the runs I’m supposed to until it dawned on me that rather than beating myself up about not being able to follow this marathon training plan and throwing in the towel, I just have the wrong plan for me and I should get a new one.

So I had a look around on the internet and was very happy to find the Runners World Smart Coach which suggested 3 runs a week (with 4 days rest, or cross training which I can add when I get back to BMF etc in a couple of weeks).  The long runs are the same but there is longer mileage in one of the mid-week ones.  Not rocket science as my son had already suggested I should just do fewer but longer runs.  However the problem with this plan is that it is a little more technical with speed and tempo intervals, which I really should do, but 3x1600m at a precise pace is not necessarily possible on an uneven trail, round bendy roads when car dodging nor if the next 1600m is straight up a hill.

So, my new plan is… No plan!  Well until September at least.  I am simply going to continue to do my gradually increasing long runs as well as trying to increase my total mileage by 10% each week, in whatever combination of runs I can.

While I’m on the subject of change of plans… I had planned to run the Isle of Wight Half Marathon today.  However, I really didn’t fancy an undulating road race, starting at 11am in temperatures of 26 degrees.  A race that will have to wait for yet another year to run.  Instead I went out early (for me) at 8am and ran a slow loop of tree-shaded road, seafront and trails. A great route but tough going as it was already pretty hot. I also need to pay a little more attention in route planning for next time because I didn’t reckon on the non-stop climb back up from sea level between miles 7 and 9.