So, marathon training has finally begun! For those of you who don’t already know, I’ve decided to celebrate the year of my 50th birthday (there, I’ve said it!) by taking part in my first marathon, which will be the Greater Manchester Marathon on 28th April. And if that goes OK I’ll also be doing the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon in October too. “Why has the old bird left it so late in life to start marathon running?” I hear you thinking. Well yes, I guess I have, but as I only started running three years ago I haven’t really felt ready to give it a go until now. Besides, I think that to a certain extent age is just a number and I fully intend to ignore being ancient for as long as I possibly can!
I’ve decided to follow the 16 week beginner’s programme devised by Women’s Running magazine coach Phoebe Thomas, partly because it includes quite a bit of cross-training, but mostly because Phoebe is a redhead like me, so she must be OK! However, for the first two weeks of the schedule I was actually tapering for the Brass Monkey Half Marathon, which was supposed to take place here in York on 20th January, but was unfortunately (but understandably) cancelled due to bad weather for the first time in its 31 year history. We were still allowed to pick up our souvenir running tops, but I haven’t worn it yet as I don’t really feel I’ve earned it!
So, after the Brass Monkey I jumped from the Week 12 taper of a half marathon plan onto Week 3 of the marathon plan. I thought I’d need to take things easy the week after the Brass Monkey, but as it never happened I cracked straight on! In fact it was actually an easier week than those I’d had over Christmas, but that’s no bad thing. Here’s what the training plan looks like:
I’m now on week 4. As you can see, there are actually only three days a week when you have to run. I’m glad about the cross training because I haven’t done any proper bike riding for a while, and also because Steve and I are hoping to go to Italy in May to watch a bit of the Giro d’Italia and let Steve have his big birthday treat – riding up the Passo dello Stelvio, a classic Giro climb. Not sure I’ll be up to that, but I’ll certainly do some riding. So Phoebe’s cross training will help me aerobically for running but also prepare my legs for our hols. Friday, the only real rest day on the schedule, is the only day of the week I’m office-bound. So, fingers crossed, it should all come together quite nicely – for now! Of course, once the mileage starts to creep beyond half marathon level I’ve no idea how things will go or how me poor old bones will cope with the training, so I certainly don’t want to get complacent.
This week I’ve also started going to a Core Toning class at York Yoga Studio for the first time, which is supposed to really help build up the right kind of strength for good running style; this is apparently very important when you’re planning to run 26.2 miles! It was hard work but great fun and highlighted some areas I need to work on and strengthen. Then there’s nutrition… obviously I usually eat a fairly healthy diet anyway, but I’ve been looking at areas where I can tailor it a bit to suit my marathon training – more on both of these things in further blog posts.
If anyone’s looking for some reading matter to help with their marathon training I can recommend the Women’s Running Marathon Training Guide, which has plans for runners of all abilities and loads of great advice.
So, I’ll post more about how I’m getting on at the end of February. I always love to hear how other people are getting on with their marathon training, especially women and first-timers, so if I’m not already following you on Twitter please let me know. And good luck with your training, whatever goal you’ve lined up for spring! Anyone else waiting to hear whether they’ve got into the Great North Run? Fingers crossed! Still just time to enter the ballot…