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Marathon Training Update 2020

Marathon Training Update

Introduction:

With 63 days to go until the London Marathon, I’m starting to feel the pressure! If you’ve followed my blog for a while then you’ll know what a disappointment the Blackpool Marathon was for me last year. If not, here’s a brief summary… I ran my first marathon (London) in 2018 in a time of 7:03 with little actual training. Disappointed in myself, I decided to give the marathon thing another go in 2019. I set myself a sub-5-hour target. I felt like training had gone well, albeit I had a bit of a niggly knee. I got my half marathon personal best down from 2:33 to 2:11 and was feeling confident of my sub-5 goal.

Unfortunately, it fell apart on the day and I finished in a time of 5:06. I was devastated and felt like giving up running altogether. But hey, my mum didn’t raise a quitter! So instead, I signed up for the Liverpool Marathon 2020. I had entered the London Marathon ballot but didn’t get a place. It wasn’t until after Liverpool was booked and my training plan scheduled that I found out I had a club place for the London Marathon. I was ecstatic! This was my chance for revenge on the course that had given me a beating back in 2018! My motivation levels rocketed as I planned my comeback.

I’m still undecided on whether I’ll be running the full marathon in Liverpool or not. I may opt to drop down to the half marathon as it’s four weeks after the London Marathon. Two marathons in a short space of time may not be the best idea, but we will see!

Marathon Training 2020:

My marathon training didn’t really start until January. I did do the Sneyd 10 Mile towards the start of December and used it as a bit of a base test. It was also a good opportunity to compare my fitness levels as I ran the same event in 2018. Granted, I hadn’t done much running since June as I’d been wedding planning, got married, went on honeymoon, and so on! With that being said, I did manage to take 6 minutes and 24 seconds off of my previous attempt. I was pretty pleased as I had been in the best shape of my life at that point the previous year, and I didn’t feel in great shape for the 2019 event.

For the first two weeks of January I wanted to get some easy mileage in. I was doing shorter runs of up to 4 miles with no speed work, plus my Sunday longer run. 9 miles was the starting point for my long run, with the plan to add a mile each week. January 14th saw my first “tough” run with a 5-mile hill repeat session.

Where I can, the plan was, and still is, to run Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. I strength train on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Tuesday sessions are usually my “quality” running days; so, either hill repeats, tempo runs, intervals, etc.

My longest run of this training block so far was 15 miles on February 16th.

Marathon Training 15 Miles

With the Warwick Half Marathon next week, I opted to drop back to 12 miles this Sunday. The plan is to try to race this to see where my fitness levels are at. I haven’t done much speed work, especially not at my goal half marathon race pace (my personal best is still 2:11), so it’ll be interesting to see how the event goes!

I’ve added a lot of strength work into my training, so we’ll see if that pays off. Staying injury free and building on my longest run so far of 15 miles are key parts of the plan!

I’m not sure how far I want to build up to as I slow down for my long runs, meaning that my 15-miler took 2 hours and 56 minutes. For my long runs, I try to spend the majority of the run in heart rate zone 2. As such, getting up to 18 miles would take me to around the 3-hour 30-minute mark. I don’t really see a lot of benefit of going too much over this time. Granted, I could run a bit faster and get to the 18-mile point, but then it would take me longer to recover as I would push outside of zone 2. So again, I don’t really know how much benefit I would get from that!

I’ve done two marathons already, so I know that I can do the distance.  I know what to expect and how tough it can get, and don’t really feel the need to push to 22 or more miles in training. I would like to get up to 20, but it’s always about balancing the time on my feet and staying in heart rate zone 2 to minimize the recovery time. We’ll see what happens between now and April 26th!

2019 Comparison:

I was curious to see how my training this year compared to last year. January last year saw me beat my goal of a sub-2:30 half marathon at Gloucester as I got a personal best of 2:11. I then matched this time in March at the Ironbridge half marathon. This could have been a new personal best but I was struggling with a niggly knee and the course was a lot hillier than I had expected!

On February 17th 2019, I ran 17 miles on the treadmill. This is 2 miles more than I have run at that point this year.

Marathon Training 17 Miles

Similarly, I ran 12 miles on the 24th. This was a day after setting a new 5k personal best of 25:58. I haven’t run a Parkrun so far this year to compare.

It was the week after that my knee took a turn for the worse as I ran 18 miles along the canal. I managed 9 miles the week after and then cut back to taper for the Ironbridge half. It was here that things went a bit haphazard. The Ironbridge half was on the 24th March. My longest run between then and the Blackpool Marathon was 6.5 miles. I had been wary of making my knee niggle worse, but at the same time probably lost some of that base fitness that I had built up previously.

Cross training and strength training were practically non-existent for me last year, so that is definitely something that I have improved on!

Conclusion:

It’s interesting to see how my training this year compares to last year. I had been feeling positive last year until just before the Ironbridge half marathon, but even then, I managed to equal my personal best. The four weeks that followed Ironbridge weren’t great in terms of distance and training, so I’m keen to avoid the same issues this time around.

I am yet to enter an event so far this year, so I don’t really have an idea of how I can perform under race conditions. By this point last year, I had already achieved personal best times at the Gloucester Half Marathon and my local 5k Parkrun.  The Warwick Half Marathon next week will be an interesting test, but I’m not expecting a personal best.  

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