I’m supposed to be training for Ride 100, so threw in a cheeky trip down to Box Hill in Surrey, just to check it out before race day.
Almost a year ago, I had a crack at the London Marathon. A big occasion that lives up to the hype. I didn’t get my target time of 4 hours, running the distance in 4:10:46. Which is why I’m having another go this year in the Brighton marathon. So what went wrong?
I picked up a bug about one month before the event which took miles out of my training regime, and left me short of fitness in the final days. I was ill for one week, but it impacted greatly on the next three weeks.
On the race application, I said that I expected to finish in 4 hours. It seems that a great number of people were more dishonestly optimistic about their times than I was. As a result, I spent the whole race stuck in heavy traffic, struggling to run past slower runners. The end of race stats told me I ran past 15,000 people. That’s 15,000 people who over-estimated their abilities and got in my way!
I almost had the fitness, but I was slightly off. I trained up to 38 miles a week. This year I’ve been nailing 40 miles.
For the 2017 marathon, I trained for 4 months. This year I will have trained for 5 months.
That’s enough moaning. This year I have tweaked my approach rather than changed it radically. I will have completed the same number of big runs (3 x 20 mile runs). But getting in more miles per week and over a longer period of time should yield some great results. Add to that the fact that Brighton should give me a lot more running space than the London marathon could. Sure it will be busy at the start, but after that, I should get some space.
So here is the evidence…
At this stage I am well into my training regime. With 6 weeks remaining till the big day, I am coming to the end of the middle phase of my training. Week 16 saw me finally get to my lofty target of 40 miles per week (64.4km). It’s great to report that I haven’t got any major injuries, and (touch wood), I appear to have avoided all the nasty bugs.
These last six weeks I figured might be quite challenging, as I was due to start a new job at a tech company. Not only that, but they decided to send me to their headquarters in Silicon Valley for two weeks of orientation. Where that was a random challenge at first, I soon saw the advantage of swapping the bitter British winter for the Californian sun. It helped that my apartment was near the Bedwell Bayfront Park, which became my early morning pilgrimage.
After I got back to London, not only was I faced with the so-called ‘Beast From The East’. Not ideal after the Californian sunshine! I tried one session in the gym, but treadmills are absolute torture. Despite the cold, Richmond Park was far superior to the automated torture of a gym treadmill!
The Royal Ballet School in the middle of the park.
I also took on a new running route to work. After having to brave a few 11 mile runs to Bromley through the grimmest roads in South-East London, I was now privileged to adopt a new route to my workplace in Soho, taking me past Battersea Power Station, Battersea Park, Buckingham Palace and Green Park.
The next big challenge in my training, now that I have reached my mileage targets is to start fitting in the 20 mile runs. Hopefully, I can do three of these by the time of the big day…
Well I’m at it again this year. After coming in over the four hour mark in last year’s London marathon (4:10:46), I figured that I couldn’t really cross ‘marathon’ off my bucket list. After having completed two marathons, I now have a much better understanding of how to structure training. I figured a rigid training diary was not going to work. When you have set days to achieve certain goals, life can get in the way. Events with friends and family, leisure and work commitments, and random curve balls like getting ill or picking up injuries can throw a rigid diary wildly off course. Instead, I work with a training spreadsheet. I mapped out a training period of 22 weeks, starting in mid-November. I set an initial weekly target of 15 miles. By week 16, I intended to have built up to 40 miles, so I could spend a month maintaining that distance. I could then interpolate between those two values to give me weekly targets between week 1 and week 16. All I have to do is hit my weekly targets, with whatever combination of running distances that seems appropriate. So here’s what I have so far, half-way through my running program:
A gentle increase in weekly distance ensures that I’m not over-stretching myself.
Last year, I had a similar training regime. One major difference in my approach to runs was that I was running almost every day, but doing smaller runs. Having a 17.5km commute distance into work was one of the factors that encouraged me to invest more time in doing longer distances, and I must say it has been useful. My shorter runs tend to be around the 7.5km mark, and I get to have more rest-days, if I am working two long runs a week into my routine. Last year, I was almost training every day, so the longer runs at the weekend were painful, as I was always on the brink of injury.
The Brighton Marathon seems to be the ideal marathon for many reasons.
Here’s a map of last years route:
So now I’m half way through my training, I just need to keep it going. Week 11 had me doing 32 miles, so I’m not too far off getting to 40 miles. Training is definitely becoming achey, tedious and dare I say it, lonely! If I hit my 4 hour marathon target though, it’ll be worth it.
After trying to do this last week (got to Hyde Park and my legs were dead), I decided to give my Edgware to Hyde Park and back run another go for my final big run.
The run out to Hyde Park went well. Managed to maintain an average pace of 5:36 per kilometre. The return run was painfully slow though. So I averaged at 6:03 for the whole run. I need to get that under 5:40 and add another 10km to the end on race day if I’m going to get under 4 hours for the marathon.
At the start line; the glamorous McDonald’s Stanmore at the top of the A5.
Half way point after 90 minutes at sone fancy Roman statue…
Which looks so much more impressive without my ugly face.
Half time treats on a warm spring day at Hyde Park Corner.
Back at the finish line complete with farmer’s tan, stains and very painful ankles!
Those final splits were rotten! Got through the run without injury though. Two weeks till race day now, so time to recover and get strong for race day.
So here’s the latest in my efforts to raise money for the White Lodge Centre.
As part of my marathon training, here’s a run I’ve been trying out. The A5 runs from Edgware to Hyde Park in Central London, and it’s pretty much bang on 10 miles.
Can’t say that the view along the way from Edgware is overly photogenic, unless you’re into retail parks and dual carriageways. Very satisfying when you arrive in central though!
This massive horse head greets you as you arrive at the park.
The eponymous Marble Arch…
Met one of the jolly locals…
Got this shot of Wellington Arch at the turnaround point near Hyde Park corner, the second time I did the run. Then it’s all the way back to sunny Edgware…
After a rotten week of not training and being completely ill, I arrived at last Saturday’s Parkrun in pretty poor form. Because the legs had gotten some rest, the time for that 5km was ok but by the end I was wheezing like Albert Steptoe.
This run was a test to see if I should even bother doing the Silverstone Half Marathon which I had signed up to do the following day with the White Lodge Centre team. I decided I should give it a go.
It was great to do a competitive run as it gave me the opportunity to realise that my understanding of race tactics was poor! I started way too quickly, taken up with the flow of fast runners. My sub 5 minute splits had degraded to 5:30 by the end and the last km was atrocious!
Still managed a half marathon pb.
With 6690 runners finishing, I was placed in the top 25%. Briefly encountered one White Lodge runner as I was pipped by Craig Waddle on the finishing line.
With my dodgy race tactics, I felt pretty burnt out at the end. I’ll be aiming for a more manageable pace in the big race. It’s so easy to go too fast and end up fighting and hurting to keep pace!