Somehow, the last day of January has rolled around in a haze of marathon training, mock exam marking and blog writing. It’s funny how at the start of the year all we can see is an endless trail of dark, gloomy January days stretching ahead of us but, for me at least, the month seems to have flown by.
As with many a January before, the start of 2015 saw me with my Serious Marathon Training head on, but this time with the added motivation of joining Jantastic to give me a weekly target to work towards (and a little bit of healthy competition since I can’t resist a challenge!). Given that I was only able to return to regular running in November, I’ve been thinking about my progress now that I have the first month of marathon training under my belt.
First of all, I have to say that I’m feeling much stronger and my body more resilient. Just before Christmas I ran 10k for the first time since last May and I’m not going to lie, it was hard work; last Sunday I ran 12 miles and felt I had the strength to go on. Last week, my legs felt tired and a bit heavy; this week I feel renewed and have been running better. In October I found it hard to complete 10 reps of my cadence drills; on Thursday I completed 18 reps at a faster cadence.
So what’s changed?
I think one of the keys for me has been consistency. I have completed all my planned workouts for January (giving me a very pleasing 100% record for the first month of Jantastic) but have been careful not to increase my training load by too much. My plan (expertly written by Steve) has a nice balance of different types of run (hilly, cadence drills, Parkrun and my long run) to give each session a different focus, alongside some swimming, conditioning work and Metafit. All of these combined are making me fitter, stronger and more able to cope with the demands of marathon training. I even fitted in a race in less than perfect conditions! So far so good 🙂
I’ve also been very aware of other factors surrounding my training to help lessen the risk of injury: compression tights on all my runs but Parkrun (when I wear old ones I don’t mind getting muddy!); compression socks to aid recovery; a nice bath a few hours after my long run; aiming for plenty of sleep; eating well to support my body’s needs; regular sports massage; varying my training routes/terrains, as per the advice of my podiatrist, to avoid the same joints/muscles taking the same strains repetitively; and rotating different brands/models of shoes for similar reasons (I’ll write more on this soon). Basically I’m combining everything that has worked for me in the past with a few new tweaks to (hopefully) make my training routines even stronger.
Writing this on the cusp of a new month, I’m feeling very positive. I’ve had a good 4 weeks of training, my body is responding well to the demands I am placing on it and I feel strong going into a new month. My aim for February is to retain my consistency, continue the conditioning work which, although not my favourite session in the week, is making me stronger, and make sure my nutrition supports the increased mileage coming my way.
Bring it on February, I’m ready for you!
How has your January been?
Have you noticed any changes in your running/fitness since the beginning of the year?