My marathon training is well underway and I think I’m actually addicted to it. Although the types of running and the distances vary, I’m into a pattern with it and I enjoy the whole week. Monday is always rest day and I’m always ready for it after my long run on Sunday. Tuesday is usually a short, fast run. Wednesday is the dreaded body conditioning, which is my least favourite day of the week, although I can definitely feel it doing me some good. Then I run every day from Thursday to Sunday.
For someone who only ever ran on alternate days, apart from parkrun on Saturday followed by a long run on Sunday, that’s a big change for me. I’d always thought it would be too much to run on three or more consecutive days. But of course my body is strong now. I’m building up both my distance and my time on my feet every week and running four consecutive days has become easy and enjoyable.
I’m actually not sure how I’m going to go back to my old way of running after the marathon. Of course, it’s tempting not to go back. But I do need the time for work and I’m not sure about the effect on my body of permanently running 30 or 40 miles a week.
Week five saw me do my first four mile ‘intense run’, which was basically me sprinting for a minute, then running slowly for three minutes. I was aching after my body conditioning and I had to switch my four mile Thursday run with my seven mile Friday run, because I had to go into my client’s office to work on Friday. I was aching that badly that I wondered if I might need to skip a run, or cut one short, but I was actually OK. I found that after about a mile, my legs felt warm and the aches were gone. I made my Saturday six mile light run into a ‘parkrun sandwich’, running with my daughter so I wouldn’t go too fast. I finished the week with a 13 mile run – the first time I’ve ever run 13 miles without it being an actual half marathon.
Week six started with a five mile steady run and I decided to just run at my normal pace. I’ve got to the point where I wonder if I can actually run at my normal pace any more as I’ve been so focused on slowing down. I decided to cut the body conditioning back very slightly – so if an exercise was ‘eight to 10 reps’, I’d do eight rather than 10. I then did a six mile run on Thursday, a fast three miles on Friday and another slow ‘parkrun sandwich’ on Saturday. Sunday was supposed to be a 14 mile run, but instead I ran Warwick half marathon. Most training plans do recommend you do a race as part of your training.
Week seven was my toughest week so far. It started with a four mile intense run, which I really enjoyed. It’s basically one minute bursts of almost sprinting, in between slower runs. I went back to full reps on the body conditioning and it hurt a bit, but not too much, so I think I will stick with that now. My ‘medium’ runs are getting longer – I did a six mile run on Thursday and an eight mile run on Friday. Eight miles felt too long for a weekday, when I’ve got work to do. I then did a slow parkrun on Saturday and my longest ever run on Sunday – 15 miles! It went remarkably well and my legs didn’t even ache the next day, but I had a horrendous stomach ache in the evening and during the night.
I had shorter midweek runs in week eight and that was very welcome. It started with a six mile run, followed by body conditioning. The body conditioning is still boring and still painful, but I hardly felt it in my legs the next day, so I must be making progress. Thursday’s run was a ‘steady 45 minutes’, which I interpreted as five miles at nine minute mile pace. It felt good to be running a bit faster and a shorter distance. Friday’s run was an ‘intense run’ – four miles in total, with a few very fast sprints. Saturday was a slow parkrun and Sunday was another longest run ever – 16 miles. I actually felt better after the 16 miles than I did after last week’s 15 miles, so I must be getting stronger.
I’m really enjoying my marathon training, but I have two small criticisms of my plan. One is the number of descriptions of types of run – tempo, steady, light, intense, effort… Some of these categories don’t have a definitive definition, so I have to work them out for myself to a certain extent. The other is the way it mixes minutes, miles and kilometres, so I have to convert it all to miles before I run.