My goals for the London Marathon

Well, I tell you what if it wasn’t for social media I think I would have just completely forgotten that it’s the London Marathon in a few days. Ha! On a serious note though, it’s so nice to see so many people doing it. So many from my club, so many people I’m friends with on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook… just lots of friendly faces. Well, let’s be honest, most people running it are likely to be super friendly because they’re runners 😉I guess this should be the post where I say what my goals are for running the London Marathon. Hmmm. Survive uninjured. No change from usual I guess! I hope to get around 3:45 but under that would be nice. It really depends on the weather, the crowds and how I feel. The Tokyo Marathon gave me the confidence to know I can run around 8 minute/miles without a huge amount of solid training… but then I was fresher and hadn’t run a marathon a couple of months previously.

It’s all a guessing game with a marathon. Nothing is set in stone. There are SO many external factors along with the internal factors. It’s such a long, long way… you only have to look at a whole host of marathon mile splits on Strava to see people doing absolutely fine, running nice and consistently, to then suddenly gain an extra minute + per mile after half-way or 16 miles or whatever. ANYTHING can happen. Nutrition issues, an injury, a niggle, a mental burp, exhaustion due to bad race strategy, pacing or just plain old fitness.Basically, my first and foremost marathon mantra for anyone and everyone is: RESPECT THE MARATHON. Otherwise it will eat you up and spit you out. You could argue that my not-so-great training and clustering of marathons isn’t quite respecting the marathon…but I’m aware of this and aware of my capabilities. I’m not going to take off at the start like a loony. I mean, I imagine I won’t be able to anyway as it’ll be so busy but in an ideal world I have a list of paces I want to target (i.e. not go faster than) for the first 10 miles, the second 10 miles and then the final 10k will be “see how you feel” as to whether I step it up (unless I’m crawling at that point…).

So, even though I’m not entirely “marathon ready”, I do have a sensible plan and some realistic goals:

  • Remain uninjured
  • Have fun (“fun” is questionable here of course, but fun relative to, say, getting impaled on a big stick and/or getting fired and becoming destitute)
  • See someone famous (ideally I’d love to see Adele from the Early Morning Breakfast show on BBC Radio1, she literally makes my 5.30am gym visits bearable and she’s running London as her first marathon)
  • Time of 3:45(ish)
  • If that fails, sub-4.

So there we go. I won’t lie. I mostly want to meet someone famous 😉 I’ll be THAT annoying person wanting a selfie…I just can’t work out if I’d have the guts to do it while running. Maybe sneakily…

Tomorrow I’m off to London with my mum. I managed to convince her to join me going to the London Marathon Expo to collect my bib by postponing Mother’s Day celebrations until then. After a morning Expo visit I’m treating her to lunch at Jamie’s 15.

Then it gets a bit mad as my mum goes back home on the train while I meet a friend to go with her on the train to Brighton. I’ll spend the day in Brighton with her on the Saturday, to then get the train back to my parent’s house that afternoon. Then I’ll be coaching it up to London stupidly early with my dad on Sunday morning with some other local runners. Wahay I must be mad!!

Huge good luck to everyone running London, or Southampton (10k/half/marathon) and everything else going on!

Process or Goal Orientated?

I thought I was goal-orientated. I’m ambitious, driven and determined. I create plans and lists for targets to hit and tick off. I’m a Type A personality (a very common thing in the fitness world).

But I was walking Alfie the other day and listening to the Marathon Talk podcast (episode 349) and Martin was interviewing an amazing guy called Joe Grant. Joe talked about the crazy challenges he had gone on, running and cycling hundreds of miles and going on fantastic adventures. What became apparent straight away was that he focused on the “journey” not the outcome, like his time or placings. It was all about the experiences he gained, the training he went through that got him to the point of doing all those incredible races.

It made me suddenly realise that that’s similar to how I think. OK I am in NO WAY comparing myself to this amazing ultra marathoning pro, but in terms of what he focuses on is exactly how I feel. I asked myself, why do I keep running marathons? Surprisingly it’s not to hit some elusive time goal or smash my PB. It’s the training weeks leading up, it’s hitting those long runs and feeling accomplished afterwards. Obviously not always as sometimes they suck and I feel pants, but you take the good with the bad. Next week’s run might be different. The fact is though that I don’t need a race to validate my running and fitness.

Of course I have time goals for marathons, because otherwise how would I know how to train or what pace to set off at? But if I don’t hit that goal it’s not a failure. The marathon, instead, is the goal – the victory lap. I’ve done the hard weeks of training, ticked off all those long runs and now I get to see if I can make it to the end.

When I got my PB at Liverpool of course I was over-the-moon but actually had I finished in a similar time to the marathons before or slower I’d have still been happy. That training cycle was awesome. Each week was showing me what I could do and the race was just the cherry on the top to say, “you did it, it worked! Well done!”. And no, it wasn’t because I was getting faster or hitting PBs. It was because most of the runs I felt strong and I was happy running.

It’s the same with parkrun. When I first started parkrunning I was keen to beat my time every Saturday I went and it drove me to injury after injury. I lost the love. But when I stopped caring about my time (to some extent of course, I still look at the results and enjoy seeing progress), parkrun suddenly became fun again. And instead of aiming for things like “sub-20 minutes” or “first female”, I now aim for how many different parkruns I can do over the UK. Where’s my next one going to be? Where can I visit next? What’s the course going to be like? Of course smashing out a fantastically fast time (for me) is fun once in a while, but if I don’t get a PB it’s not a waste or a failure. It’s just another experience on another day.

Like I said in a previous post, I’m reading the Brownlee brother’s books and it’s fascinating. I love hearing about how hard they train and how ambitious they are. Reading their book though does feel a little empty to me at times. The most interesting parts are when they talk about their training or race in depth and detail. Of course they can’t do this for every race because it would be a mammoth book, but even aside from this, what’s clear is that they are very goal-driven. A race to them is summed up by the outcome first and foremost: where did they place. OK obviously that is hugely important to them because they are professional elite athletes and their placing is what’s important at the end of the day, but I almost don’t care about where they came. I want to hear about the details and the experiences – the nitty gritty. Instead they sum up races very quickly with “the swim went well, the bike was hard and the run went fast and I came first”.

For me, when I write race recaps (different league and incomparable talent completely, of course) I go into flowery details about when I needed to pee, what gels I took and what that marshal said to me at mile five. My result is purely incidental. Yes it’s important, but it’s not why I set out to race. (Please forgive my stumbling comparison to the hugely talented Brownlee brothers, it’s a whole different thing I know but it just made me think how different elite athletes are to the average Jo(e)).

For Chester Marathon I just want to finish uninjured and with a smile on my face. The journey has been tough with its ups and downs in motivation and hot weather but I can look back fondly and think, if the marathon goes tits up then I don’t mind because that 21 miler was cool, running to Fareham parkrun was so much fun and the Reigate Half surprised me with how good it felt.

This is not a rambling post to try and sandbag my time or claim nonchalantly “I don’t care what time I finish”. Of course I care. In fact, I’ll lay it out for you bare:

  • A Goal: sub 3:30 (this is really quite ambitious considering my training but hey ho, aim high! If I feel good on the day who knows what could happen…all the planets need to align though)
  • B Goal: sub 3:35 (realistically this is within my grasp I think)
  • C Goal: I’d like to beat Boston’s time (sub 3:38) or at the very least sub 3:45. I did my 21 miler at around 8:15-8:20 pace and this time goal is sitting just under that pace. But it will also depend on tangents and things like that.

But ultimately, I’m happy as long as I finish uninjured. If I don’t get any of the above goals and “just” finish the marathon, it’s another one ticked off my list and (after some actual time off – I promise, this time!) I’ll be on to the next one, happy as ever. This is why I’m happy to tell you my goals because if I don’t achieve them, I’m not embarrassed or see myself as a failure. It’s something I can dissect and improve upon next time. *Rubs hands in glee* all that data, all those training runs…It builds into the next training plan to polish it all up for the next marathon.

Are you goal or process driven?

Why do you race?

Do you often have targets you want to achieve? What are those targets: times, experiences, quantities of events?

New Year – new me? {And a giveaway!}

Happy New Year! I won’t do a “year recap” post as I personally find them a bit dull. Also my year wasn’t the best if I’m honest.

Yes I know I ran two marathons and I’m so proud of myself and pleased that I got through them (especially considering I didn’t do ‘proper’ marathon training for either). And a few other races were good experiences too but on the whole and everything in between, it sucked in terms of my running. One injury to the next, one rubbish run to the next.

But 2015 is going to be better (ahh, haven’t we all heard that before in January, eh??) I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions but I have some rough goals that I’m keen to stick to this year to help make 2015 better than 2014.

What I came to realise (and probably must be quite clear as an outsider I suppose) is that running took over things. I’d almost say it consumed my life. I got very down when I couldn’t run and everything I was looking forward to was to do with running. Every goal I had, every plan in the diary. Having now not run since November I feel (and this is going to sound really stupid and weird) free.

All races planned for this year (including London) have been put to one side and I’ve stopped thinking and worrying about them. Who knows I might run them or not. I frankly don’t care at the moment. Without any pressures on me the need to get back into running has disappeared. I’m satisfying my need for exercise by going to spin (I have a love hate relationship with that brutal class), pump, circuits and all the other crazy classes I’ve tried over this break. I feel stronger and my general fitness is still there and I can go to the gym however many damn times I like in a week without worrying I might break. I’ve even been doing double classes some days – because I can. (Don’t worry, I’m still very much balancing all this exercise with cake).

And this made me realise that I can easily give up running for a bit and still be fit, healthy and more importantly happy. Obviously I do want to run at some point – and though I’m not running right now I am still very much a “runner” in my heart and always will be. But my goal for this year is for it to not be all I do. I want to keep going to the gym, working on the weights and my strength, and going to spin, but running when I fancy. The mistake I made last year was quitting the gym as soon as I was back into running, which doesn’t work for me. So that’s my goal in a nutshell! That and eat less cake. Nahhh scratch that actually, less cake would make 2015 truly rubbish.

On to the giveaway! The lovely people at 9Point9 have sent me two of those very cool Zephyr Fire 100 hand torches (normally £44.99) made by Nathan Sports to give away to TWO of my readers.

IMG_8402I did a review of this product a few weeks ago which you can check out HERE. Basically it’s a hand-held torch so when you go running (or walking!) in the dark you can shine the light in front of you to see. It’s also USB rechargeable which is immensely useful as batteries truly suck. It also has a button on it to sound a siren if you’re in trouble.

IMG_8455

To been in for a chance, just leave a comment below saying why the hand-held torch would be useful to you! I’ll announce the winner 12th January. Good luck!

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? What are they for this year?

Did you achieve last year’s resolutions?

How do you achieve a balance with exercise? Is it all one sport or do you vary what you do?

***Full Disclosure: I was sent the two Nathan Zephyr Fire 100 products for free to giveaway to two readers***