Not that I’ve been counting down EVERY SINGLE DAY but I am now just one week out from the London Marathon. I’ve run over 1,400 miles since hitting the streets of Berlin back in September. The knee injury I picked up (touch wood!) is almost completely healed (*check out some strengthening tips at the end of the blog). And I’m going into the race full of beans! Not Heinz, that would be a really bad idea.
I should have had a few races to report back on but four races became two as the calendar has been savaged by the wintry weather. Back in February I ran Bramley 20 miler. Although not in the time I wanted (I’m blaming the wind, not of my own making), I finished in 1’59’23”, 7th place and trained my heart to work at 165bpm+ for the whole race. This is going to be key in London. Learning to hack the heart working in the 165-175bpm range throughout the marathon next weekend will be the difference between a nice shiny PB and something much more modest.
A week later, I was running in the Wokingham Half Marathon. No excuses this time. This race was well-placed in the build-up to London and should have reflected my improved fitness with nine weeks to go. It didn’t help having a brief chat with Scott Overall (far left in the photo below) and deciding it would be a good idea to go off with him when the gun went! He’s an Olympian and won the race in 65 minutes! That said, I settled into a sensible pace after that. All was going well until the halfway mark where I was on course for a PB. My legs then gave up on me, clearly not up for the fight. I might not have been completely up for it upstairs either but the legs went first. The remainder of the race was predictable and I lost around 5-10 seconds per km pace, finishing in 1’15’24”. This was over half a minute slower than last year at Wokingham – back to the drawing board!
Fast-forward eight weeks, 465 miles (58 miles a week) of training and a very productive trip to Portugal and I feel confident that my coach has made the right tweaks to ensure that my legs are better at helping me keep the pace when tired. The main shift has been to bring in more long distance running at marathon pace and especially at the end of a session when my legs are beginning to hurt.
The 10 day trip to Portugal was all-round brilliant! I went out with a few pros and their coach – it was good to see how they do it. Running hard and resting equally hard, bringing a new meaning to R&R! Although they are both aiming for quicker times at London, there is nothing more motivating than doing sessions with two runners at the top of their game. I was never too far behind in the longer runs which was encouraging. And the coach spotted a few quick fixes to improve my running style. The osteopath there was keen to get cracking. Essentially I look like the Hunchback of Notre-Dame when I run – I might as well go for the fastest Disney costumed runner next weekend…!
And so onto my seventh London Marathon. Although the races have not quite been what I hoped, I have trained well. The key learning from last time out in Berlin is that I will be aiming for even splits in London – none of this ‘relax up until 20 miles’ and miraculously step on the gas. The pace I start at will be the pace I aim to hold. And then from 20 miles, the marathon really starts.
The next time I write, I hope to be in possession of a shiny marathon PB. In the meantime, I’ve got some carb-loading to do!
*Prevention and treatment exercises for Runner’s Knee: Kyle at Hackett Massage Therapy (http://www.hackettmassage.co.uk/) set me some really simple strengthening exercises to do for 15 minutes every other day. These have helped tackle the glute weakness that was stressing my knee. Monster walks, lunges with a resistance band, single leg squats using a door frame (for support) and hip-hikes with a raised platform, have got me from being in significant pain to fit enough to run a marathon.
And if you’re looking for some neat ways to weave exercises into your everyday routines, check out this nifty list from marathon runner Russell Bentley – https://t.co/9tRTGiHrZn.