My first marathon: Week 3

3 week’s of marathon training, done!
Kapow! Take THAT marathon training plan – I freakin’ OWN you!


Well, sort of. I’m doing what my training plan tells me, which I suppose by definition means that it owns me, but whatever… I’m not about to let semantics do a pee pee on my parade.

My body has now definitely caught wind of my marathon plans. The good news is that it responded by shedding the couple of kilos I put on after my Spring half marathon and I am pleased to report that I felt lighter and bouncier at the start of the week. The bad news is that my bounciness took a battering during my highest ever mileage week this week, and so yesterday’s and today’s training sessions were subsequently pretty hard…

Before I started marathon training I knew that I needed to make a more conscious effort to recover from each workout than I have before. A few stretches and a sit down was no longer going to cut it. Marathon Boy had specifically told me that I needed more sleep, magazines have told me to eat a decent diet, and the internet is awash with stories of people who do and don’t get their recovery right.

This week I’m going to be making a real effort to get my recovery right. Unfortunately I don’t think it will be as easy as stretching a bit more or sitting on the sofa a bit longer. In fact I’ve got a horrid feeling that it’s more likely to involve a couple of dates with my foam roller and some sort of weird food. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime here’s how my training log looks this week:

Monday: Threshold hills
4 x [5 minutes effort; 2.5 minutes recovery]
I have a love/hate relationship with hill sessions. I never do them on a whim and I never wake up thinking ‘Gosh, I really fancy a hill session this morning!’. But I know that they’re a proper good workout and so, when I’m training for something, I’ll schedule them in. And you guys know how I tick – if it’s scheduled, I’ll do it.

So I did the hills, and as usual, I enjoyed it once I was in the swing of it. I stepped up the efforts from 4 minutes to 5 this week and it was OK. Tough, but not soul destroying.

Tuesday: Strength training and marathon pace/steady run
6 miles on hills
I did my weights in the morning – nothing new – and suffered no DOMS afterwards. I wish I could celebrate, but that probably means that I need to up my game a little next week with either additional reps or busting out some new moves. I haven’t decided which yet…

In the evening I went along to my running club, but this week it was not to join the other Chasers on their run. I was on tea duty, which means having the tea, squash and biscuits ready for when all the runners return.

I still got a run in though. My friend, and fellow Chaser, Edd met me early to go for a run across Hampstead Heath and get back to the club in time to put the kettle on. It was very humid that evening and the already tough route was made harder by the lack of air. 6 miles over hills was significantly tougher than the morning’s strength session! Unless the morning workout had something to do with why running was so difficult…

Wednesday: Rest
With my long run planned for Thursday I hung up the trainers on Wednesday. Instead I spent the day writing the first in a series of articles for a new website, The Running Stories. The series will follow my summer of unemployment and marathon training. You can read my article (along with all of the other wonderful stories) here.

Thursday: Long run
14 miles
Last week’s long run can only be described as a slog. It was hilly, I felt heavy, there were hills… It was a long, slow, slog of a run. But after a day’s rest this week’s long run couldn’t have been more different.

At 14 miles it was the longest distance I’ve run before – the peak distance of half marathon training, but only the start of my marathon training runs! Because this is a distance I have run before I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out using energy gels and compare experiences.

In short, the experiences aren’t really comparable at all. The gels were better than I could have imagined. I took two out with me and took them at 45 minute intervals so that I could avoid the energy slump that occurs after an hour. Taking on the extra carbs meant that I didn’t fade at all during the run – actually I felt better after taking the first than I did at the start of the run! Maybe I should have a Lucozade before I leave the house next time…

Friday: Rest
Another rest day. This time I spent it out on the bicycle, so it wasn’t entirely inactive.

Saturday: Technically a rest day, but I was volunteering
I decided to volunteer at my local Race for Life because I had so much fun running it last year with my new-to-running mother. While 5km may not seem that far to regular runners, I think that it’s important to remember that the 3.1 mile distance poses a massive challenge to new or non-runners and that all attempts at being more active should be applauded and encouraged. I was so excited I painted my nails pink for the occasion.


Extra kudos go out to the runners at the Finsbury Park Race For Life though because it was a bloody miserable day. I will make no complaints about registering runners in a marquee that acted as a wind tunnel because at least I didn’t have to run in it.

Sunday: Tempo run
2 x [5km tempo run; 10 minutes recovery]
This was hard – proper hard – and I don’t know why. I was aiming for a pace slightly faster than half marathon pace, but slightly easier than 10K pace, which should have been easy enough for 5km, but it was hard, and I don’t know why.

My legs were like lead and I could barely muster HM pace. The good news is that I ran the two 5kms terrifyingly evenly – within seconds of each other! But there were a lot more seconds on them both than there should have been.

Like I said right at the beginning of this post, my body seems to have sussed out what I’m doing and apparently it isn’t as into this whole marathon plan as I am. Foam roller and an early night it is then…


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