In May I will be taking on my first full marathon and the fear is setting in as the longer runs are approaching. So far the furthest I have ran is 15 miles which I did last year in November as part of my training for the St Neots half marathon.
After spending most of January recovering from a kidney infection and having to stop RED January the confidence about my running was slowly dwindling. But fortunately as soon as I was back to it the confidence has also begun to return.
Soon after getting back on my feet I was on the trails with Chris exploring new places to run. It was a run that started off with me feeling pretty useless at running whinging and moaning to Chris that I was not capable, feeling slow and like I was holding him back, and ended on a high that I had actually run further than we planned but also that I felt confident I could have gone further… not one to push my luck I sensibly went home.
Ever since I have been following my training plan and have even been trying a bit of yoga and some light strength training. I need to make these more of a priority and I need to do it more than the once a week that I have been. Speed work was also something I would put off but I have made sure I have done this even if its meant swapping the days around.
After years of running routes around St Neots I already feel like I have exhausted them and do not find them interesting or very challenging. So after discovering that it was actually possible to run beyond my little town thats exactly what I have been doing. My short runs I always keep local and thats ok its not that I dislike running in St Neots I just do not want my long runs to end up making me hate my training.
So I have been mapping out routes on strava. Mixing up the terrain and places I run to. Each one of my training weeks has a new route to try and explore and each week I plan to make it as interesting as I can. For me going a certain pace isn’t a focus I just want to get to the end of the run and think… that was ok I could still keep going.
It’s helped that I have had a running buddy my friend Katie who is also doing the Milton Keynes marathon… ok she’s the one that persuaded me to sign up. So we have been keeping each other company and had some very enjoyable runs so far.
I have been reading a brilliant book called Your Pace or Mine?: What Running Taught Me About Life, Laughter and Coming Last by Lisa Jackson. If your feeling any doubt or lacking in confidence about your running I highly recommend reading this book as she has achieved so much since she started running yet for her it has never been about times or coming last. She has had her own personal goals and is achieving them. Its also very funny.
Its amazing how the distraction of figuring out which way to go next and not really knowing where you are can take your mind off how far you have left to go. It makes the time pass very quickly.
Some of my routes will cover road and trail and others just trail so they will have their challenges and I hope will help my fitness not hinder it. The bottom line is I just want to enjoy it and the trails are where I have the most fun. Hopefully it will prevent injury too as I will not be spending all my time road running.
I have been trying to arrange it so that I am running with others and arranging for others to run parts of routes with me. Its not always easy but I think it will help to be with other people than out there alone. A few members of my running club were keen to go on a trail run local to us so I planned a route that would mean they could choose to drop in and out of a 20 mile run I will need to complete. Fortunately my first 20 mile run will be in race conditions although I certainly will not be racing but its a challenge I am looking forward to.
Entering a couple of races has meant I have been able to break down my training focus which has made it a whole lot less daunting. The first being a half marathon which for the first time in a long time I have no plans to try and get a PB or push myself beyond my limit. I want to enjoy it and be awarded with a nice bit of bling by the end. In the new year I very much decided my races would not be about times anymore, its not what I enjoy about them. The atmosphere is and meeting new people. My favourite half marathon was the Royal Parks half, one where I had the energy to run and chat and finish on a high.
The following race booked is a 20 mile run designed to help those competing in spring marathons. This will be the first time I run this kind of distance and its taken the pressure off knowing I will be doing it with hundreds of others. Including friends and family. It is probably not a distance I quite needed to be at by that point in my marathon training but it was actually booked before I decided to run the marathon and to be honest I feel more than confident I am ready for it. I have spent too many years thinking I am not capable when I know I am!
I will likely use these races as an opportunity to practice my ideal marathon pace. I was given a great tip to work out a pace for a marathon when you have not yet run one and that was to add 10% to your current half marathon pace. For me I have worked this out based on my 8.45min/mile half marathon pace + 10%. I say I have worked it out I needed some help from Chris who has kindly worked it out to be 9.37min/mile. I’ll go with a nice round number though and aim for 9.30min/miles. Or you could just use this calculator on runners world. This will give me a predicted time of just under 4hrs 10minutes (gold target). I would be thrilled with that time but I’d equally be happy to finish in 4hrs 30minutes (silver target) or better still before the cut off time (bronze target)!
I hope all of this will make my training experience a little more enjoyable than just doing as my plan says.
The next challenge to overcome… the nutrition. I have the knowledge I know what I should be doing I now need to practice what I preach!
I will let you all know how it goes!