Plan A, Plan B and all the other million plans out there…
So I was officially running Brighton marathon and, whilst 80% is mental ability, I needed to train my little legs to master the loooongest distance I have ever attempted to run. Christmas was over and I needed a plan!
If you Google marathon training plan you’ll get a lot of results. There’s a plan for every type of runner: time-poor, non-runner, half-marathon runner, fast runner, slow runner, run-walker… and I probably scoured them all.
I think I fall into the time-poor-already-can-run-half-marathon-no-specific-time-goal-but-4-hours-would-be-nice category. There isn’t a plan out there called that per se, so I poured over many, trying to mix and match, then started to worry that I’d end up with a strange convoluted plan that wasn’t going to be effective at all.
My biggest challenge would be fitting in runs around running around after my children, although I am extremely lucky to have Nana, Grampa and Grandma who are very generous with helping look after the girls during the week, giving me some extra time to train. As well as school and pre-school, we have mini ballet, Rainbows, gymnastics, swimming, dance and junior parkrun to fit in – oh, and homework and parties! Without grandparents I’m not sure how I’d do it all! And of course I’m eternally grateful to my husband for all the weekend mornings he will have to do the ballet run, wrap birthday presents and find a suitable outfit for a 3 year old attending a princess & pirate disco.
I am also fortunate to work for myself, so am not a slave to the 9-5 everyday.
Anyway, I needed a realistic plan and luckily my parkrun friend, ambassador and marathon-runner Rory offered to design a personalised plan just for me. He created a 15 week timetable with 3 main runs and an optional 4th if I had time. This is seemed perfect and I was pleased to see 20 miles ‘only’ featured twice. I must admit the weeks ahead looked impossibly hard but I focused on getting past each week rather than panicking about what lay ahead. Someone else pointed out that by mid-February I would be running at least a half-marathon every week – gulp! But then I reminded myself that these would be slow runs and an excellent opportunity to smash some calories!
Each week comprised a speedwork session (hills, intervals, threshold run etc.), a race pace run and a long slow run, so a nice mix and opportunity to cross-train (swim, spin, body pump etc.) in between. Every three weeks there’s a taper where the distance reduces a little then ramps up again the following weeks. I was also pleased to discover ‘rest day are just as important as training days’ 🙂
This piece of paper is now my bible – it’s been scribbled on, potential races and group runs slotted in and no-one is allowed to touch it. The week of 13 March is the one I’m most apprehensive of: 11 miles race pace + 20-21 miles long slow run. If I achieve that, I’ll be one very happy person. Cheating is not an option, because (a) I’ll only be cheating myself and (b) Rory is on Strava.
So finally I have a plan! Now to run with it.
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