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