London Marathon: Final thoughts on the #roadtolondon

And just like that, 4 months of training is coming to an end. I have just one run left before London Marathon, ONE. Tomorrow I am planning on doing *the* gentlest 2 miler, a final spin of the legs before the big day on Sunday.

This, my 5th marathon training block, has by far and away been my best. And I honestly feel so calm and weirdly satisfied ahead of Sunday, as if whatever happens I almost have nothing to prove to myself, and that nothing can spoil what has been an amazing 4 months.

For the fellow stat lovers amongst us (hi!), here's how the numbers have stacked up for me over the last 17 weeks (officially training for 16 weeks, but I kicked off a little early FOR FUN)

  • 589 miles ran
  • Three 20 milers
  • Two 18 milers
  • One 17 miler
  • One 15 miler
  • Four 13 milers
  • Thirteen 10 milers
  • Glorious PBs across 5k, 10k and half marathon races
  • Highest ever monthly mileage (177 miles for March)
  • Hitting 50 mile weeks twice

Honestly, what could possibly go wrong on Sunday to make me feel like all of that hasn't been worth it? It might sound ridiculous to train so hard for a goal and feel so relaxed going into trying to actually achieve that goal - but the way I feel at the moment, even if I don't get the time I want, how can I be mad when I've already achieved all of that? Cheesy pinterest quotes ARE right, it really is all about the journey.

What I have loved about this training block is the sheer task I set myself, how different it was from any training or any running experience I've had (I trained for my first marathon in 2012 and although my injury rate came down - a bit, lol - and my running ability went up, my training style wasn't that different even as recently as last year). My training this time around has been all about:

  • Just...more actual running. I started with three defined runs each and every week. A "play with pace" type run (technical term..) usually on a Wednesday or Thursday that started and finished easy and included miles quicker or at marathon pace in the middle. Usually around 6 miles total. A speedy session - always parkrun on a Saturday. And a long run, slower or at marathon pace. I then built on these key runs each week by adding a steady/easy 10 miler and one or two steady/easy runs to make up mileage or as a warm up to other workouts or as just a away to commute home from my old job
  • Going long soon. Really scary soon! And often. My first 15 miler was way earlier than any other training block I've done, I was doing the damn thing in January! And I have never done three 20 milers before!!
  • Different running shoes. Gone are the days where my shoes (always the cheapest, always bought for colour only, haha!) cover all bases. I am very much now a many shoe-d runner with a pair for 5k/10k distance, two stability pairs, one long distance race pair, one stability race pair, a trail pair obviously.. I know there's more on rotation but I can't remember off the top of my head. Let's just say I struggle to close the wardrobe some days there are so many...
  • Slowing down. I've heard for years (from people who actually know what they are talking about) who have said slow down in training, don't go all out in every run. And they are of course, correct! I've slowed down and my mileage has gone up. Who'd have thought it!
  • Speeding up. But by the same token, I have gleefully ripped up the rule book on many, many occasion over the last few months and just gone for it. I have listened to my legs, thought about my goal and just let myself see what I could achieve. At the start of this training block, the thought of hitting 8 minute mile pace for anything over about 15/16 miles made me laugh...but allowing myself to go with what my body was telling me (imagine a devil on my shoulder totally egging me on) I set those fears to rest and went one step better in giving myself almighty boosts of confidence
  • Running mile by mile. Oh how I love my new(ish) Garmin. Thanks Mike for the birthday present. Having each run set to show mile by mile pace has totally changed the way I run and has improved my pacing (still far from perfect, but you should have seen what it was like before, haha!) so so much. Anyone who struggles with breaking runs down or keeping to a set pace, upgrade your Garmin!

I've also really come to understand how I like to train and run during these last few months. I am very much a solo runner, and quite a repetitive one at that. I have clocked so many miles on the same routes, often laps of the same routes. I never thought I could run day after day either, but here I am having done many weeks of 5 or 6 days running. This has changed what I thought was possible and made my realise, after years of thinking my body was broken, it ain't. 

And on the lows. Which really pale into insignificance. Nothing, no matter how rubbish, can really spoil the last few months, but I can still learn from them.

  • Life stress effects running. Massively. I went through a couple of weeks in a very stressful situation, and how badly it effected my running was genuinely a reason for me getting out of that situation! If I find myself in a whirlwind of crap again I need to manage it better, crying is ok, heart palpitations probably less so...!
  • Old injuries are never truly gone. My "dodgy" foot made an appearance and resulted in a week's loss of training, including a key 20 miler. It made me so sad and stressed, definitely something to manage better so it doesn't happen again
  • Sugar and coffee are not meals Becky. Honestly, the amount of sweets and chocolate I have gone through due to sheer tiredness is quite frankly ridiculous. And I'm not that much of a sweet eater in "real" life. I need to just embrace exhaustion and not try and Haribo my way out of it!!
  • Lack of core work. I think I have done maybe two dedicated core workouts...in 2019. What can I say, I hate core. And I'm certainly not looking forward to mile 22 on Sunday when I can barely stay upright due to this shambles, lol!!
  • Less than perfect strength work. I'll give myself some credit, I have done regular strength during this training block (apart from core of course, see above...) but I know I could have done more and made it more varied.

So, with all this done and getting to the start line in one piece I feel like (here's another pinterest quote) I've won already. But the icing on the cake would be to hit my goals:

  • A new PB - 3:42 and under
  • 3:30 - and the chance to apply for Boston
  • Sub 3:30..

Thanks for reading along and following my blog so far, and, as they say, I'll see you on the other side. Massive massive good luck to anyone running London on Sunday x

 

 

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