TRAINING FOR THE LONDON MARATHON – UPDATE 1
On the 26th April 2020 I will be running the London Marathon. I still can’t quite believe I am even typing those words, let alone that I will actually be stood there at the starting line ready to run the 26.2 miles alongside thousands of other runners. Running a marathon has been on my bucket list for a very long time, especially the London Marathon. I have applied for the ballot many times now and never gotten a place, but last year I decided to get back into running again mainly for the mental wellbeing it brings me. Following on from that I decided that 2020 was going to be my year, I was going to sign up for a charity place to run the iconic race.
I spent ages looking at charities who had spaces and in the end I decided to apply for Make-A-Wish, because everything about what they do just made me want to raise money for them. I am going to talk a lot more about Make-A-Wish over the coming weeks, but they create life changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. Whether that be a trip to see Mickey at Disneyland, a new princess themed bedroom makeover, or to go and see a real life volcano, Make-A-Wish plan these amazing experiences for children and families who are going through an incredible tough time. I had known about Make-A-Wish for a long time, on our visits to DisneyWorld we have seen ‘wish children’ enjoying their wishes with their families, and I just had a feeling this was to be the charity I would run for.
Fast forward a few weeks and I got a call from the team at Make-A-Wish saying that my application had been successful, and they were pleased to offer me a spot on their 2020 marathon team. I was now officially a ‘Wish Hero’, committing to raise a certain amount of money for this incredible charity.
During the latter part of 2019 my running was ‘sporadic’ shall we say. We were going through various things at home and I didn’t get my trainers on and get out there as much as I should have done. I still ran, but certainly not as much as I wanted to. I completed my first half marathon for Make-A-Wish in September (I don’t have to do the extra runs for Make-A-Wish, I just wanted to), which I must admit I struggled with as I didn’t do enough training. I then had another half marathon scheduled that unfortunately was cancelled due to an issue on the course.
2020 Marathon training so far
My marathon training didn’t get off to the best start as I hurt my ankle in the first two weeks of the 16 week training plan I had set myself. In all honesty it has really thrown me off and made me feel lots of pressure as I feel like I am behind schedule. That being said it does seem to have all clicked into place now and dare I say it I am really enjoying it. I still feel a little behind where I want to be and I still don’t enjoy it while I am actually running, but I love the feeling afterwards, and I am feeling really motivated. I thought I would share some of the main things that are working for me so far…
Not having a rigid plan
If you google ‘marathon training plans’ there are literally hundreds available online. I have no doubt that sticking to a rigid training plan helps many people, but it just doesn’t work for me. While yes of course training for a marathon does require some sort of planning, you can’t just turn up on the day and run 26.2 miles, I am finding that having a rigid plan actually has the opposite affect on me- it makes me feel a lot of pressure and I was feeling like I had failed if I hadn’t completed what my plan said that day. Although I work from home, I don’t tend to run during the day, only at weekends, early mornings or after school time, and inevitably sometimes with three children plans had to change.
Now my plan is a lot more relaxed. I am trying to run at least four times a week, with a long run at the weekend. That is it. That long run is really important and the main part of my training, but of course the other runs are important too.
Just getting out there and doing the miles
It sounds obvious to say that one big thing that is working for me is just getting out there, but that is exactly what seems to be clicking into place. As mentioned above I try and run at least four times a week, with one of those being a long run for a weekend. I am not being particularly strict over what kind of miles I am doing during the week, but I will always increase the weekend long run by a couple of miles. Some days I set out to do six miles for example and then am not feeling it and do less, and vice versa. I find just getting out there and not putting too much pressure on myself is really woking for me, but making sure I am still doing the milage on my legs.
Not worrying about my pace
When I ran before years ago I was lot more worried about my pace and my speed. I used to love the buzz of beating my PB’s. But this time around I just don’t seem to be getting any faster. Of course I am sure I am, but it isn’t coming as naturally to me as it was the first time around. I found trying to chase a certain pace or time meant I wasn’t enjoying my runs and at the moment I am just focusing on running and building up the milage on my legs.
Mixing up my runs
One big thing that I am doing is mixing up my runs. I am working hard to find new routes to go on (did you know you can map runs on Strava which is always useful?) so I don’t get bored, I am running with friends on the odd run (I don’t like running with someone else too often as I prefer my own company but I am trying to run with friends at least once a week), and I am also mixing up what kind of runs I do. I have started going to track which is organised by our local running club, which is supposed to be good for marathon training although I can’t go every week. I also enjoy my slow plodding long runs, but then I try and go at a slightly faster pace for my shorter mid week runs.
I am also mixing up what I listen to on my runs. Most of the time I like listening to music, but I have also been enjoying listening to podcasts and even no headphones at all. I find running with no headphones really makes me focus on my breathing and the world around me.
Recovery is key
You are putting a lot of miles on your legs when you are marathon training and recovering after a run has never been something I have really thought about before. However I am really trying to stretch for at least five minutes after my long runs, and I have also been using Jon’s foam roller too (even though I have no idea what I am doing!). I have been making sure I fuel myself as soon as I finish a run, I don’t tend to ever feel like eating properly after a run, but I have been making sure I eat a protein bar or a banana as soon as I can, otherwise I feel tired for the rest of the day.
I’ve also bought some epsom salts for the bath which are supposed to help in soothing and reviving your muscles after a long run- I haven’t given these a try yet so will be interesting to see how I get on.
Fuelling my body
I have been really getting interested in how I should fuel my body while marathon training. While my diet is ok, it could definitely be better, and I have become really interested in what kind of things I should be eating. I am making sure I eat breakfast every day now- whether that’s a smoothie, cereal or porridge, even on the days I am not running. I am also researching a lot into vegetarian and plant based diets- we have been cutting out meat for over a year now and only tend to eat 2-3 meat meals a week, but I am interested in learning more (as yet I am too daunted to make the complete switch). I have been reading a really interesting book called Eat and Run by Scott Jurek who is a completely plant based ultra marathoner- and it is really interesting and motivating
So there we have it. My first marathon update, my first proper month of marathon training (because of my ankle injury), and the first time in ages where I am actually feeling good about running. I am still absolutely terrified about the prospect of running 26.2 miles, at the moment my legs ache after 11.5 so I can’t even begin to imagine being able to make it to that finish line. But I feel motivated, inspired and ready for the challenge.
I’ve also done a marathon update video on You Tube if video is your thing…
Here’s to seeing how the next month is going to go.