It’s just under 2 weeks til Chester Marathon so I thought I’d share something about my training.
I’ve never followed a strict plan and I’ve never started marathon training exactly 12 or 16 weeks before until now. I told you in my last post that I decided to train for a marathon without really committing to one. I knew training would suffer if I didn’t plan though, so I did count 16 weeks backwards from Chester Marathon and started my “official” training for it. I had been running before it as well though so I didn’t start from zero.
Because of my history of injuries I decided to do things differently this time. I made a plan that I would only run 4 times a week, cross train twice and have one rest day a week. I also told myself not to exceed 65km per week just in case. I don’t think that kind of week ever happened.
At the start I was being very careful not to overdo my training and not to run too much too soon. Despite that I still started to get niggles and injuries, this time around it’s been my knee. Training has suffered and overall I have had to take quite a few rest days and a whole week off during this training period. I have run on average only 3 times a week and I think my weekly average has been about 50km. So very little running for marathon training. This time I have been going to the gym fairly regularly though. What has definitely differed is that in my previous marathon training cycles whenever I have got injured I have fallen into total despair where I just give up on life and lay on the couch eating crap food and feeling sorry for myself. Whereas this time when there was knee pain I went to the gym and did what I could there so even though there were days I couldn’t run there hasn’t been that many where I couldn’t exercise.
Another thing I did differently was the length of my longest run. For all my previous marathons I have run 32km at least once. This has been mainly for me to know psychologically that only 10km needs to be added to the distance on the day. This time I decided to try and leave the super long run out. Knowing my injury history I thought that it might just tire me out too much doing it too close to the day and I don’t know if it is necessary to run that 32km. If you look at any marathon training plans or follow any runners’ blogs or instagrams most people run 22 miles as they longest run. This equals to just over 35km. To me that sounds crazy. I understand that elite athletes practise the actual marathon distances sometimes but for a normal runner I really don’t see if running 35km in training is necessary. But then again, I’m no expert.
My friend has run quite a few marathons and for one of them last year her longest training run was 25km. For some that may seem very short but she felt that was enough for her. And I’m not talking about someone who plods the marathons, she ran a pb of 3:11. So I guess I believe that if she could do it with 25km as her longest run I don’t have to run the 32km let alone 35km to do well in mine. I was too scared to leave it at 25km however, so I did 29km as my longest 😀
I have also changed my longs runs a bit and included faster sections for some of my long runs. Before I used to do all my long runs at a slow easy pace and my tempos were shorter runs. Now I added some Goal Marathon Pace (GMP) kilometers to my long runs. For instance I ran 24km where the middle 8km was bit faster than GMP, or I did 26km where the last 10km where GMP. I don’t know if this makes a difference to anything but let’s hope so.
So the things that I have done completely differently this training cycle:
- Only 3 times running a week as opposed to about 5-6.
- Lower mileage than ever before for marathon training (During previous marathon trainings I have run anywhere between 50-90km a week)
- Cross-training (bike, crosstrainer, pilates) every week
- Shorter longest run than before (29km vs 32km)
- GMP included in long runs.
Based on this above list it might sound like I’m not very well prepared for the marathon. I just hope that the runs I have done have been of good enough quality and the quantity of the kilometers won’t matter as much. Some days I feel like I’m well prepared and will do well in Chester and other days I realise that the reality is that my training has not been what marathon training should be like and I have not run enough to be able to push through 42km in a steady pace. I guess I won’t know until race day.
Do you have a specific amount a week you need to run in order to feel prepared for a marathon? Or a certain distance for your longest run?