And so it begins: Marathon training week 1

For the third year in a row the beginning of the year brings with it the start of my marathon training. The first time, it was a daunting task; the second time I was really excited about it and this year? This year it just wouldn’t feel right without it because, you see, I find that I really enjoy marathon training. There’s something about getting up early on a Sunday morning and heading out for an (increasingly longer) run that really brightens up those dull early months of the year and makes me happy. Tired, but happy.

My training plan last year was fairly standard: club run on a Tuesday, hill/track session on a Thursday and a long run on Sunday which peaked at 20miles. In between times, a couple of gym sessions to build strength and at least one all-important rest day. This year, however, Steve has written me a slightly different plan which we will review regularly to see how well I am progressing. Based on the idea that traditional marathon training plans were written for somewhat more elite athletes who would be completing their longest runs in around 2.5 hours, and given that the recovery time the body requires after a run of 2.5 hours plus, this year I’m trying a different approach. The main change will be in my long run at the weekend as I will run 4-5 miles on Saturday and the rest on Sunday. This means that my longest single Sunday run will be 18 miles, however I will still total 22 miles that weekend. The purported advantage of this is that I should be able to complete my longest run in less than 3 hours and I will also train my legs to run a longer distance when they are weary from a run the day before. The further advantage for me is that since I’ll likely be completing many of my long runs alone, the idea of a solo long run seems much more manageable when it’s split up like this. Hopefully this will also help me to run my way towards a new marathon PB of sub 4:30.

One thing I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that although it is important to have a training plan, one shouldn’t become a slave to it: the plan should fit your life, rather than your life fitting the plan. So long as sufficient miles are accumulated and a mixture of training is completed, it’s ok to make the odd tweak here and there. Just as well then, given that I’ve already had to stray from my plan since I’ve been on holiday this week and been fitting around a slightly different schedule!

Planned training this week:
Monday: Gym
Tuesday: Club run
Wednesday: Gym
Thursday: Hill session with running club
Friday: Rest/Swim
Saturday: 4 miles steady
Sunday: 6 miles

As it turned out, things were changed right from the start. Steve was still on holiday on Monday therefore I was down one personal trainer for my gym session as he didn’t really want to go in on his day off. Instead, I went for a 4ish mile run to blow away the cobwebs of the New Year festivities and kickstart my training. On Tuesday it was blowing a gale outside and even Steve was heading for the treadmill in order to get a quality run in, so I joined him and completed 10k at a gradually increasing pace (starting at 5.5 mph to warm up and finishing at 7.5 mph for the last 0.2 miles with an average pace of 6.5mph or so). Wednesday ended up being a rest day as I had planned to spend the day with a friend. After two days on the trot of running, I quite enjoyed a nice chilled out day of shopping, chatting and watching movies. When Thursday came around I preferred to complete my workout earlier in the day rather than wait until evening. Knowing that I wouldn’t push myself in a hill session without our club coach, I instead opted for mile repeats on the treadmill. After a warm up I completed 4 repeats of a mile fast (7mph) with 0.2 miles recovery jog in between. This gave me an overall 5 mile workout. Having rested on Wednesday, I had a swim on Friday which set me up nicely for a weekend of running: 4.5 miles on Saturday and 6 miles on Sunday. Interestingly, I ran better (i.e. faster!) on Sunday so it’s been a very positive first week of training. I now have the first 26 miles of the year under my belt with my legs feeling great. I wish they would feel that good after completing 26.2 in one run!

Tomorrow I return to work so in theory it should be a lot easier to fall into my regular training pattern again. I’ll let you know next week…!

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