After meeting so many lovely first-time marathoners at the Yorkshire Marathon support meeting Babs Shiells and I organised a couple of weeks ago I just thought I’d do a quick update on my own training so far… maybe we can compare notes? After all, York will only be my second marathon, so I still have lots to learn too!
Target-wise I’ve decided to stick to the same plan as for the Manchester Marathon, which was nine minute miles (to hopefully finish in just under four hours). Had I not developed cramp in my calves at mile 24 on that day I think I would have been OK, as otherwise I felt fine. I’ve done quite a bit of research on cramp since then and discovered there’s no definitive answer as to why it happens; it could be fatigue or lack of electrolytes. So I think all I can do is train and eat well, plus make sure I take on plenty of electrolytes on York Marathon day. With my Big Birthday coming up in September (aargh, I’m blanking it out!) sub-4 would be a Good For Age time, an alternative to the ballot for getting into the London Marathon. I’m definitely not counting any chickens though. If anyone has any tips for preventing cramp I’d love to hear them!
I’m currently on Week 6 of the schedule, which is a hard week with three tough sessions in the middle of it – threshold on Tuesday, intervals on Wednesday and more threshold on Thursday. I’ve never had three days on the trot like that before, but have managed to get through them and do what was required. Now I know why Week 5 was an easier week! I’ll be ready for my rest day on Friday, when I’ll actually be sitting in the car all day on the way to a week’s holiday in Brittany. Next week is also fairly challenging, so I’ll need to be disciplined to stick to the schedule while I’m away. I’ve just found out that the town we’re staying in has a handy 10K walking/hiking circuit around it, so that should come in useful. I think the real challenge will be trying not to eat too many gorgeous French bakery products!
When I get back from holiday Weeks 8 and 9 are a bit easier before I have to do a half marathon at PB pace at the end of Week 9. I was fortunate to get a place in this year’s Great North Run, which conveniently falls on the same day. I’ve done the GNR three times before and got a PB each time, but on each of those occasions I’ve trained specifically for it rather than having it as part of a wider marathon training programme, so it will be interesting to see how it goes. It’s always an enjoyable event, whatever happens.
Unlike the beginner’s plan, the second half of the improver’s schedule doesn’t include any proper cross-training, but it can be substituted for recovery runs, so that’s what I’ll do in an effort to minimise impact on my aging joints. Here’s what the second half looks like:
On the marginal gains front (© Sir Dave Brailsford) I’m still going to my flow yoga class at York Yoga Studio once a week to improve core strength and flexibility, having a sports massage with Colin at Muscle Management about once a month for general maintenance/injury prevention and eating as well as I can. At the marathon support event I prepared a handout on nutrition during training – if you’d like a copy just email me via my website.
Hope your training is going well if you’re doing an autumn marathon. I’d love to hear how you’re getting on. And now I have to go and find my wetsuit… body boarding counts as cross-training, right?