Well, I’m now almost halfway through my 16 week training programme for the Greater Manchester Marathon (my first) on 28th April. In fact I’ve just realised that’s exactly two months today, which helps to focus the mind a bit! It’s been going pretty well so far (touch wood). I haven’t yet had to miss any training sessions – although I did do a long Sunday run on Saturday a couple of weeks ago when we were having friends to dinner so I could drink on the Saturday night! As I mentioned previously, I’m following the beginner’s marathon schedule from Women’s Running magazine and this is what the next eight weeks of training look like.
Being a bit old and slow I’ve decided to take things quite cautiously speed-wise for my marathon debut – after all, the most important thing is to arrive at the starting line uninjured! So I’ve settled on a proposed race pace of nine minutes per mile. This makes my tempo/threshold pace 8:30 and my long slow run pace around ten minutes. I’m actually finding it quite hard to run that slowly on longer runs; I sometimes glance down at my Garmin and find the pace creeping up to below nine minutes. This isn’t really a problem now, but it could be as distance increases over the coming weeks, so I really need to try and get to grips with it; after all, setting off too fast is a classic marathon running error. But I have a feeling that this will correct itself as the long run distances get longer and harder!
I read up quite a bit about marathon training before starting and soon realised that developing a strong core is supposed to enable you to run stronger for longer. It does this in two ways; by strengthening your hips and legs so you can retain better posture as you begin to get tired, and also by helping to prevent injury. I’d never tried this before, so a few weeks ago I started going to a core toning class at York Yoga Studio on Wednesdays instead of my usual hatha yoga. I think this is now really helping me to run more strongly, especially on the hill sessions. After the first couple of classes I felt a bit stiff the next day, mostly in my hips, but now I’m used to it I can really feel the benefits. Our instructor, Zita Soanes, is absolutely awesome and as an ex-athlete herself she really knows her stuff. I’d recommend this type of training to any runner if you aren’t already doing it, although yoga and Pilates are good alternatives too.
I’ve also decided to treat myself to a sports massage at least once a month. I’m lucky enough never to have had an injury yet in my (albeit short) running life, and massage is another good way to prevent injury – although many people don’t go to see a therapist until they’re already injured! It’s not just a little bit of TLC, a sports massage generally straightens everything out to keep things ticking over nicely and rejuvenate the legs for better training; and good sports therapist can often detect and treat niggles even before they become apparent to you, and before they become a problem. I go to Colin Hawxby at Muscle Management – he’s a duathlete, so as well as being a great therapist he knows a lot about running and cycling. I get lots of good advice included in the price of my treatment!
I’ve also been focussing a bit more than usual on nutrition. Obviously I usually have a pretty healthy diet anyway, but I’ve been tweaking it a bit to help with marathon training. I’m going to write a separate blog post about this next week as I think it’s a really important part of training that’s often neglected.
So, I’m really enjoying training up to now, but I never take it for granted and have no idea how things will progress once I get to the big mileage weeks – Monster Month as some people call it! Hope your training is going well too if you’re doing a spring marathon.
And I didn’t get into the Great North Run 🙁 C’est la vie!