I’ve been writing so many blogs on why and how you should all be active so I felt it was time for a little update on my own efforts! As many of you know, I love a spring marathon. I really find that it helps to keep me going out running through the winter when quite frankly, I find it much easier to just run a hot bath. 
Recent years have seen me heading to Boston, Reykjavik and Mallorca to run marathons, so this year I decided to do one a little closer to home – the Manchester Marathon. My brother-in-law went from couch to Manchester Marathon (I did tell him he could marry my sister without having to run a marathon but I love the fact he did!) and I was tracking him every step of the way. Others I know have given me great reports too, so, one winter’s night, I just impulsively clicked on the dreaded ENTER button and that was that!
My aim is to get a personal best time. I was on track to do this in Boston last year but stupidly raced rather than ran my 20 mile longest run and injured my hip. I hadn’t run for three weeks before Boston and was also overwhelmed by the unexpected heat, so PB plans had to go on hold – it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me in a marathon but that’s another story!
PBs need to be earned though and are preceded by lots of effort. I’m back to the grindstone. It’s so tempting to just run and stay within your comfort zone. Intentionally making yourself feel uncomfortable, exhausted and at times nauseous is a strange thing to choose to do!
I’m following my trusty Women’s Running magazine training plan. I’ve progressed onto the ‘improver’s marathon plan’ which is about the right level for me. What I like about these plans is that they work! For me they are achievable. I can fit them into my week. There’s no crazy mileage but there’s lots of intervals and hills which are relatively quick workouts but they really stretch me. These plans have served me well to date so I’m sticking with them.
I find it too overwhelming to look at the whole plan so I simply look at the week ahead and figure out when during my (always busy) schedule I can fit the sessions in. I often have to switch the days around to suit my plans. Working out which day I can do the long run is usually the first decision because I know I need an easier session the day before and, more importantly, a rest day after it. I try to combine shorter sessions with exercising the dog although she really does NOT get the concept of hill repeats. She thinks I’m barking mad so I accept that on those days, my warm down will be a dog walk after my run.
On the training days I don’t engage my brain too much or I can quite easily talk myself out of it. I just get on and do it without thinking, usually early in the morning, often before breakfast.
Running friends join me when they can, although strangely they seem to be keener to accompany me on the long, slow, chatty runs than joining me for hills or intervals!
Here’s a photo journey through some of my runs:

So far so good. It’s week 5 and I’ve stuck to the plan. The weather has been challenging. There are endless germs going around (including within my family) so I’m trying to get lots of sleep and eat well and fingers crossed I’ve steered clear so far – famous last words! There have definitely been sessions when I look back and think I could have pushed myself harder. There are also runs when I’ve gone a bit further or faster than I’d expected.
Time will tell. One day at a time. I’m motivated and determined.
Are you doing a spring marathon? Are you running in Manchester too? I’d love to hear from you if you are. How is your training going? Leave me a comment below or say hello on social media.
Photo credits. Featured image – Melissa Stringer. Boston finish line – Horst von Bohlen. Remainder – Juliet McGrattan

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  1. Hi
    Great to read this and shall follow your journey right through to Manchester as this will be my first marathon. Michelle and I both run regularly but very sociably is how I’d describe it – fitting it round our busy days and families and both hubbies run so fitting round their more serious training but we do love it and the sense of feeling it brings. Our longest races have been 10 km so when we set about entering we knew this was a big deal for us both in training and the milestones of competing in a half and marathon as our end goal. We set about a detailed plan around what we knew we have in our diaries and kicked off in January. We had both completed a 12 days of Christmas running challenge with our club through December so it added miles to our legs and has been the best prep we could’ve had. So 5 weeks in and plenty of bugs in ours houses too – we have completed some great runs in shocking weather ! But confidence levels are doing ok after completing our first half last week Inskip half in 2:11:44 exceeding our thoughts around 2:30 would be good! We are loving the challenge so far – as beginners we are sticking to our plan but need to do more core!!! Good luck with month 2! Jackie Brunton & Michelle Livesey

    1. That’s great! Well done to both of you. The key is taking it steady with the training and not being afraid to cut back a bit if you feel very tired with everything else in life. So much better with a buddy and sociable running wins every time in my view!

  2. It’s a great motivation to read about your training. I keep saying I will do a marathon ONE DAY. Maybe next year… I like that you manage to fit the training into a very busy life, so I know it would be possible for me too.
    PS love the silver reflective coat! Have seen a few of those around over the last few days and I want one! (Even though I never run in the dark.)

    1. Thanks Sarah, your blog posts on running motivate me too. You are great over half Mara distance so I’m certain you could do a marathon- you just have to want to. The jacket is great- I wear it in the day too as it’s good for general visibility, waterproof and has big pockets for my phone, keys etc

  3. I always enjoy following your runs on Instagram! Thank you for sharing your experiences. It’s so good to know that the ups and downs of marathon training are common for us all! Once more you’ve provided much needed inspiration as I train to run Boston again this April! All in with 261 Fearless!

  4. Hi Juliet,
    I really enjoy your blog and loved ‘Sorted’ – such a great resource. I’ve been running for three years now and I’m doing my first marathon this year – Helsinki! It’s my birthday present to myself as I’m 50 in a couple of weeks. Training is going well and my current goal is another half marathon in early March then focus on the marathon in May. Good luck with your training and I’ll keep on reading your blog for motivation.

    1. Hi Jackie, thank you for that lovely message – it makes all my writing worthwhile to hear it’s motivating people. Helsinki- wow! What a wonderful way to celebrate your special birthday. It sounds like you are right on track. Good luck and keep me posted!

  5. My unpreparedness has reached new levels for London, Juliet. Having deferred once with Achilles tendonopathy I cannot bow out again. I wish you well with your training. Keep a look out on Twitter for a follow from Secret London Runs and follow us back. We’d love to invite you and other 261 stalwarts to join one of our Power Women runs… Next time you’re in London?
    See you soon I hope and good luck with Manchester.

  6. I liked very much reading your blog Juliet, I am practicing for my first marathon in NYC this November! My birthday is two days after the big day, so it’s kind of a birthday present I am giving myself. I hope you achieve your goals,
    I will be here cheering for you. I did a half marathon two weeks ago and plan on increasing my long run 1 mile each two weeks until I get to the marathon distance. I also run a 10k recovery on the day after and a tempo run during the week to exercise running faster. If I find some time I try to run another 10k during the week.

    1. That’s great Alexandre. What a great birthday present and all the very best for your training. Increasing gradually is definitely the best way to do it but I’d also suggest an easy week every 6-8 weeks where you cut back, just to give your body a rest. Good luck!

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