My first marathon: Week 12

Last week was my peak mileage week – 46 miles. 46! On the one hand, it seems totally absurd, but on the other it seems totally reasonable. Actually the only absurd thing about it as far as I can tell is that my legs still haven’t dropped off and, if it wasn’t for my Bank Holiday Monday BBQ plans I’d be out running 9 miles at marathon pace right now.

Though this was my peak mileage week and my last 20-mile run, it’s not necessarily the peak of my training. The next couple of weeks have got a few shorter, faster interval sessions lined up, which I hope, coupled with reduced mileage, will wake my heavy legs up a bit.

On the whole this has been another very good week of training, but not just from a physical perspective. It has also been an incredibly positive week’s training. The big race is now less than 4 weeks away and the reality of running a marathon is hitting home. I’ve had a very strange summer with lots of ups and downs in other areas of my life and marathon training has been the only constant. I depended on it so much for routine and giving my days purpose that I didn’t get chance to enjoy it as much as previous races I have trained for. But now, as I’ve managed to start getting some work in and thus a means to get out again, I’ve been able to step back a bit from the day-to-day, box-ticking approach to marathon training and actually contemplate the race day itself – and I’m so excited!

I’ve covered 20 miles twice, I’m running 9 hilly miles at an ambitious marathon pace each week, I’m hauling my ass through speed sessions… I’m confident I can cover 26.2 miles. The question I’m starting to ask now is how do I run this race? Is my target pace realistically possible? Should I run with podcasts, or without? How will I stave of boredom 3 hours in? Will running faster on the day lead to unexpected chaffing? So many questions… I’m going to have to get some advice.

But until I have those answers, here is my week in training:

Monday: Marathon Pace run
9 miles
I hit the hills of North London again for my weekly ‘steady’ run. I’m finding the level of concentration required to hold this pace is actually more exhausting than the run itself, constantly holding myself back from a steady run but not relaxing into a jog. Luckily I have a tendency to overthink things though (I assume y’all have noticed this already) and so my mind doesn’t fatigue too much as I ‘check myself’ throughout the run – breathing should be easy, cadence should feel steady, hands should not be flapping around, torso should not be collapsing forward, shoulders should relax down…

Tuesday: Mile reps
6 x [1 mile @ marathon pace; 2 minutes recovery]
This session was originally  tempo mile reps, but as I’m starting to think about whether or not my target marathon pace is realistic I decided to run my miles at target pace instead, just as I did in the run up to my last half marathon. I wanted to practice hitting that pace and remembering what it feels like. I also wanted to make sure that 6 miles didn’t knacker me out – after all the race is going to be significantly longer!

My pace was a little swift – 15 seconds/mile too swift to be precise – but it was consistently swift, and it felt good and OK and fine and I finished feeling confident and chuffed.

Wednesday: Rest day
I’ve been very slack with my strength training and stretching over the last few weeks. I’ve got really bored of the strength routines I do at home and so, rather stupidly, I’ve just kinda stopped doing them… I think that it’s too close to the marathon to try any new tough stuff, so I decided to try out a local yoga class instead. It was a really great class that you can read about here, and it turned out to be a heck of a workout – I woke up with some badass DOMS the next day!

Thursday: Long run
20 miles
DOMS or no DOMS, I had 20 miles scheduled and I was going to run them. 2 episodes of the Marathon Talk podcast downloaded, 2 litre hydration pack filled, 3 gels stuffed into my pocket and off I trotted towards the Thames and along the Southbank.

I met up with a friend in Battersea Park and together we ran West along the Thames Path. This is only the second long run on which I’ve had company, but it was really great to chat along the way and ensure my breathing stayed nice and easy. When we separated at 16 miles we were still chatting away and it was a massive confident boost to know that even though my legs felt like they had lead weights attached to them and my glutes had turned to stone, my lungs were doing absolutely fine.

I finished at Gunnerbury Station again and, prepared for the hour-long train ride home, picked up some OJ and Coke from a newsagents, before sitting down, letting my legs cramp up and dreading trying to get off the train at my stop…


Friday: Rest day

Saturday: Parkrun
Target Marathon Pace
I wanted to have another bash at nailing TMP and assessing whether or not I was kidding myself about it. I also wanted to practice running a slow and steady pace when surrounded by lots of people running at all kinds of crazy paces and making all kinds of crazy noises! Another session NAILED.

Sunday: Intervals
3 x [1200m @TMP; 400m @10K] – 2 sets, 4 minutes rest in between
In the Spring I went to a training session with Liz Yelling as part of some marketing thing for an iron supplement company. It was a great day and Liz had us running between marathon pace and 10K pace, practicing that switch and nailing those paces. She suggested that 6-10 miles, 75% at TMP and 25% at 10K, is a tough but good marathon training session to do a few weeks out and so I hit the track in Finsbury Park to give it a go.

It’s a killer.

I can’t quite figure out why this session is so hard. After all, I can run 6 miles at 10K pace. Actually I can run 6.2 miles at 10K pace – I’ve done it twice in the last month! But for some reason this was tough. Answers on a postcard please, folks…

Again, my TMP was too swift, but the track is flat and bouncy, so I guess that is to be expected.

This week I am going to have a long hard think about my marathon plan, so if you have any advice about selecting your marathon pace based on your training, please do comment below – I need all the advice I can get!


One thought on “My first marathon: Week 12

  1. That’s one heck of a week’s training! My weeks start on a Sunday and tend to be 4 sessions – the most I’ve done in a week is about 35 miles. I probably don’t run enough at TMP which ideally I would like to be 8:20/m (I thought that might be suitably conservative with a Half PB averaging 7:35/m). I also ran my second 20 miler this last week – probably not the most sensible thing, but I ran a parkrun on Saturday (inc. 1 mile to warm-up + another to warm-down) then 20 the day after. First 15 miles were okay but the last 5 were a killer, I expect not helped by my efforts the previous day. Still managed an average of 9:40/m so, like you, am wondering what pace would be realistic – I think it has to be a range – maybe 8:20-8:40/m, unless I manage to do more of my training runs closer to 8:20/m over the next few weeks! Not sure if that helps you much, but that’s just my observation while muddling through.


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