If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you’ll be well acquainted with how injury prone I seem to be. My previous two marathons’ training have been fairly rubbish.
For both I never managed to get over 13 miles. I did a lot of cross-training to keep my fitness up (cycling, elliptical machine and pool running) but not enough running to go into the races feeling confident. That said, I did achieve relatively good times (3:41:18 and 3:36:26 respectively). The recovery time after was a nightmare though as my body just wasn’t used to that sort of mileage in one go and for Berlin I was subsequently injured.
I gently eased back into running in January after taking some time out (as I was fed up with constantly going from injury to injury). I properly started training in February. I didn’t really follow a plan per se but I did use other marathon training plans as a guide for the long runs.
What I did…
Initially I began running three days a week, supplementing this with cross training and strength-focused training in the gym (more about that in THIS post). I gradually built the long runs up while keeping the other two runs the same. I had one run focused on running hills and the other was parkrun for speed work.
As the mileage increased I dropped the strength training to two sessions a week and then eventually got rid of the cross-training completely as I moved to running four times a week and felt good.
Against all previous expectations I managed to successfully run several long runs – proper long runs over 13 miles! I ran two 17 miles, two 18.5 miles and a 19.75 miler. This is gobsmacking for me. I still can’t believe it. I never thought my body would survive.
I think the main reason it did survive is the addition of strength training. My legs, glutes and core are stronger. Regularly doing strength training really helped. And consistently upping my weights as things became easier. Eighteen weeks later and I still wake up aching from the day after strength training. Running feels smoother and I don’t feel quite so fragile anymore.
Also being sensible with my mileage was key. I gradually increased my long run mileage. I was so scared of injuring myself that this was a great motivator to not get greedy.
What I got wrong…
I’m pretty sure I got my nutrition wrong after long runs as I got some savage headaches that I never usually get. I didn’t refuel properly and then would spend the day treating myself to cake and other sugary foods. I’m sure it wasn’t to do with hydration because I drink a lot of water (with electrolytes) before and after running. After Sunday’s 5 mile race I drank lots before and after but I didn’t have lunch for a long time afterwards and then suffered from a headache later in the day. On days I did refuel properly I didn’t get a headache. No brainer really.
I’m used to running long runs without breakfast but 17 miles is definitely my limit on that I think, especially when I don’t refuel immediately afterwards (when I’m at a race for example). I know I run better with breakfast but I also prefer to run without to train my body so when I do fuel I get maximum benefits (I’m not a dietician or a sports-knowledgeable person – this is just what I’ve personally found).
I also think I overcooked things for the Cakeathon. I probably ran too fast and didn’t reduce my mileage on the subsequent week. The 14 miler I did that next Sunday was very draining and my body didn’t feel quite as strong as previously and, dare I even say, niggly.
I should have done a shorter long run and shorter runs the following week. I did two seven milers next to each other last week which were both meant to be lower mileage but for one reason or another became higher than I wanted (not planning a normal route and running with the club). Compounding this was the Beer race which was a hard effort (but I will say not 100% smashing myself to pieces).
This week I’ve made the sensible decision to not run until parkrun on Saturday. My shin has been niggling me slightly and I’m on a FULL ANNA PANIC MODE. It’s not painful but it is tight. I’m terrified it will blow up to something more serious. It’s highly ironic that all my training goes absolutely fine and then an old niggle begins to crop up the week before the marathon. I’m honestly trying not to have a major freak out. Wouldn’t it be ironic though that the race I’m best trained for is the worst one I do??
(On a side note: for Berlin I ran a total of 223 miles in 16 weeks worth of training. For Liverpool I will have run 424 miles in 16 weeks!)
I’m driving up to Stoke-on-Trent with my dad straight from work which is a good 3.5 hours in the car (my mum can’t come as her back is still very bad). Then we’re staying with my granddad in Stoke Friday and Saturday and heading to Liverpool Sunday morning, which should be less than an hour’s drive.
I have my paces planned out as normal. The first 10 miles are going to be nice and easy (finger’s crossed) and then gradually increase that pace and maintain it for the next 10 miles. The last 10k I’ll let myself go a bit but not too much until 5k when I will attempt to hold on. Finishing strong is my ambition. But hey, I could be limping across the line, who knows…
*Deep breath* finger’s crossed eh?
Any pre-race day tips?
Any good car games to play in the car?
Will I survive this!?