Saturday, March 29, 2014

16 weeks of London Marathon training

Way back in October 2013, when my London Marathon "NO" magazine arrived, I thought my chance of running the 2014 London Marathon had passed me by. Little did I know, that a month later I would be putting my name in a hat, in the hope of gaining a place through my running club (Dromore AC). Lo and behold, mine was the first name pulled out and I was overjoyed and almost speechless. My plan at this point had been to run the MK Marathon in early May 2014 but now in the blink of an eye, my focus was to run a marathon in mid-April 2014.
I soon realised that my 18 week's of training would begin in mid-December and other important arrangements needed to be made - booking flights to England and finding a hotel in London. Thankfully, there were still a few hotels taking bookings and managed to get 2 nights in Stratford; which I was told was close to both start and finish areas.
I decided to follow the same training plan (Hal Higdon) as I used for Dublin Marathon; with the intention of putting in 6 days of running, whilst at the same time being realistic and taking additional rest days when required. The first few weeks were fairly uneventful with the mileage being fairly low and then the Christmas holidays allowed me to take off a few extra rest days. Once 2013 turned into 2014, I made the concious decision to stay off the wine until after the marathon.
Heading into 2014, I already had a few goals in mind - the main one being to enjoy the whole experience of being part of the London Marathon. Time wise I suppose getting a sub 3:45 would be brilliant, which would mean a pace of around 8:30 per mile. My intention therefore was to ensure that some of my training runs be done at "pace" and my 800 repeats would be somewhere between 3:30 and 3:45.
January - the Sunday LSR's were creeping up and 13 miles on the 5th was my longest run since the marathon back in October and I was very happy to run this at 9:00 min/miles. I knew however that I could afford to run LSR's slightly slower, particularly as other runs would be done at a much quicker pace. My tempo run was at 7:35 pace and my 800's averaged at 3:36, so all was going well.
February - I tried to get to club as often as I could as I wanted to get some speed sessions under my belt. I ensured my recovery runs were done at an easy pace and I started throwing hills into the equation. I decided to get me legs massaged in anticipation of the very long runs on the horizon. My 19 miler was completed in 2:53, whilst my first 20 was completed in 3:09. All went well on these runs; I got the pacing right and had no problems taking on fuel. However, towards the end of the month I was beginning to get a small niggle in my right knee.
March - the niggle didn't turn into anything too serious, it was annoying but wasn't affecting the way I ran or my pace. I did however, start doing some knee strengthening exercises and stretched on my rest days. The other major decision I made was to cut back on my running and reduce my days from 6 to 4 and these extra rest days certainly made a difference. March 9th was the day I ran a brilliant 20; setting off very steadily and feeling good at halfway, I decided that I would pick up my pace over the last 5 and see how it felt to run on tired legs. I managed close to 8:00 pace for a couple of these miles and at the end of it, still felt quite fresh. My final 20 was a lot tougher as I had to deal with a strong headwind at around halfway and the last 4 miles seemed to go on forever. I still finished in 3:05 though. I missed quite a lot of sessions at club due to personal reasons but I made sure I still ran my tempo (7:46) and 800's.

So, as I write this on Saturday 30th March, I'm on taper and there's only 2 weeks until I line up at the London Marathon; even now, it still hasn't sunk in that I have a place at probably the biggest marathon in the world!
As this could be a once in a lifetime experience, I decided that I would run London Marathon for an organisation that has not only helped me but my wife too over the last few years. That organisation is CAUSE and I have set up a fundraising page -
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

So, wish me luck and if you feel like tracking me on the day my race number is 24082.