Virgin Money London Marathon: Training Analysis

Well, I’ve started writing this in week 16 and will edit it right up until it eventually gets posted – and I’m scheduling the post to go out the night before the race so that its not skewed by any potential bias based upon my finishing result.

It’s my 4th time using P&D and I’ve had somewhat mixed resuts in the past. In 2015 I ran Manchester, and ran a 40 minute PB. That doesn;t tell the whole story though – I cramped a lot in the last few miles and had to do some walking in the last few miles. I attribute this to a decent amount of goal creep in the build up to the race – a 40 minute PB shows that I improved a lot during a 1 year period, but I really didn’t have a good handle on how just how much. I went out too fast, and paid the price in the last few miles. It was a PB, but later it was discovered the course was short – so it actually wasn’t a PB at all as I hadn’t completed the distance, but sill a good yardstick. I couldn’t attribute that issue at the end to the training regime.

Manchester 2016 was a lot better, not to mention the course was accurately measured. Same training plan, different result. I managed a 3.13 after a difficult year plagued by plantar fasciitis. To come away with a sub-3.15 was massive to me. Yes, the last 6 miles were tough and I did slow measurably, but it was nothing compared to 2015. I felt like the training plan had really played it’s part here thanks to being able to spend the autumn of 2015 re building my base mileage.

Bournemouth 2016 in was a different story. Training started well but was always destined to fail. In the middle of the training we moved house (relocating 60 miles up the road) and had a baby. There was an awful lot of upheaval and I suffered from the lack of consistency, sleep and mental change that this brought on.

So we have a pattern. Manchester 2015, bad (ish). Manchester 2016 good. Bournemouth 2016 bad (worse than that – horrific). And now, London 2017. By the pattern it should be good, but its not about the pattern. Its about how well the training went, and for this spring campaign, it really has gone better than ever.

I seem to have coped with the volume much better than previously. My General Aerobic runs have been faster, as have my medium-long and Long runs. This was deliberate – I wanted to condition my legs to handle the fatigue better, by running faster for longer and it seems to have worked. The major test being the Bramley 20 back in February, where I was able to maintain my target marathon pace for the full 20 miles. This was so pleasing and provided a great indicator that training was going well.

More than this though, despite the long mileage, my legs felt like they recovered better than ever before and I was able to nail more of the quality sessions than I have before, struggling only with a couple of them.

Historically, the sessions I had difficulty with were the long intervals. The 5 x 1k session was particularly difficult, but this was because of my HM PB at Silverstone two days previously. Conversely though, the 3 x 1mi session, which I have always struggled with, went brilliantly this year at a pace I would have DREAMED of last year.

Threshold sessions have always been difficult for me. There was one in particular when I was in Birmingham that I just could not maintain. But this was 9 days after my Bramley 20 race. My legs felt pretty beat up after it, so that’s hardly surprising.

One pre-training target I didn’t quite hit was a sub 18.30 5k time. I had to “settle” for 18.39 at Blandford, which isn’t too far away! It reminded me that I really hated running a hard 5k! I ran Newbury a few weeks later on a slightly tougher course and only managed 19.09 but where I was in my training, again, I kind of expected it.

The weight loss in this campaign has also been hugely successful. I’ve shifted over a stone and I’m going into the race some half a stone lower than I was for Manchester 2016. If weight really is worth 2 seconds per mile, per pound, I’m not far away from that target pace!

All being said, I’m moving into race day feeling confident. The training has worked. I know I can run the pace for 20 miles, and I know the London crowd can carry me home.

I’m ready.

 

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 18 of 18

I can hardly believe that tomorrow I am running the London Marathon – finally fulfilling an ambition I have held for a long time… certainly long before I started even running. It’s an event that I always watched on the TV as a youngster and even as a young man thinking that the distance would be impossible for me to achieve. Now I look forward to my fifth crack at the distance at the course I’ve always wanted to run. I am buzzing with excitement!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest  Rest
Tuesday 6m Recovery 5m Recovery 6m Recovery
Wednesday 7m General Aerobic (2m Marathon Pace) 6m General Aerobic (2m Marathon Pace) 7m General Aerobic (2m Marathon Pace) 
Thursday Rest 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Friday 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 3m Recovery 3m Recovery
Total Mileage 22m 19m 21m

 

It’s been a bit of a bizarre week. Not only was the weekend fuelled by Easter Chocolate, I had to take a trip to Copenhagen for work. This meant my Tuesday and Wednesday runs were in Denmark!

Tuesday was a bit odd. I arrived at Copenhagen at about lunchtime, but my Icelandic colleague had his flight delayed, which meant I had to wait in the airport for him. I spent the afternoon working from a coffee shop in the airport, and at the end of the day I changed in the toilet, stored my case in an airport locker and ran my 6 miles recovery from Copenhagen airport! Its certainly one of the more unusual runs I’ve done. It was a bit chilly and I looked a bit daft in my vest, especially when it started snowing! It felt quite tough too, I finished hoping the taper would kick in soon and my legs would start feeling fresh! 

Wednesday I was working in Copenhagen and had to fly back in the evening. This meant my 7m race rehearsal needed to be EARLY. I hate running that early in the morning, but the need called for it. It all adds to mental toughness I guess. It also doesn;t hekp that I didn’t know the area, so I had to use Strava to try and work out a route the night before. It ended up as a long flat out and back, which suited me as it meant I didn’t need to think about it. Again, my legs still weren’t feeling match fit… Is it going to all fall apart at the last minute?! 

On Thursday I ran a 5 mile recovery run with strides. The book said I should have run this on Friday, but it was going to be such a crazy day getting ready for London, Thursday was the better choice. The ran went well and I felt nimble on the Strides. Finally something positive! 

Finally on Saturday it was expo day – We decided to travel to London good and early and take in a 3 mile recovery parkrun close to the expo. This meant we’d be right by our hotel AND the expo so we could visit it “parkrun fresh”, though we hoped that the hotel would allow us an early check in. We decided to go to Mile End parkrun as it was nearby and there were lockers we could keep our stuff in during the run. It was a nice easy run and just wanted to keep the legs moving and have a good stretch afterwards. 

Summary

Well that’s it! The hard work is done. The easy work is done too. My legs feel OK but I’m neither nervous nor confident… It’s a strange kind of feeling really. I’m sure when I get to the expo that the excitement will really set in. 

Training has gone really well, and I’ve set PBs at all distances I’ve raced.

Now I just need to man up and do it. 

Sub 3.05. Bring it on. 

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 17 of 18

If you read the literature, everyone says that you should avoid any undue stress in the last few weeks before a marathon… chance would be a fine thing! With the 16 weeks previous being a metronomic picture of training consistency, week 17 has been flying by the seat of my pants.

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest  Rest
Tuesday 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) Rest
Wednesday 8m (3 x 1m Intervals) Rest 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides)
Thursday Rest 8m (3 x 1m Intervals) 7m (3 x 1m Intervals)
Friday 5m (6 x 100m Strides) Rest Rest
Saturday Rest 5m (6 x 100m Strides) 5m (6 x 100m Strides)
Sunday 12m Medium-Long 12m Medium-Long 12m Medium-Long
Total Mileage 32m 32m 31m

On Tuesday I was meant to run… but I had a last minute request for work to go to Reading in the morning. This put back the whole day, which meant I didn’t end up having any time prior to the club AGM. So instead, it was Wednesday before I ran my 7 miles with 8 strides. The extra rest day really helped – my legs felt amazing, and the run was very comfortable. I even managed probably the fastest complete set of strides I’ve ever managed. This was very encouraging!

This meant I missed the rest on Wednesday and went back-to-back on Thursday with 7 miles and 3 x 1m Intervals. The book wanted 8, but I wanted to drop the mileage a little farther this week so cut it down just a tad, and made for a simple 2 mile warm up/down. I’ve always struggled with this session in the past. This time, I really nailed it. Some great reps, just a shame the last wasn’t a smidge quicker – but there were some obstacles slowing me down! Finished feeling like I’d had a good workout, but didn’t feel too battered. The taper may just be working!

On parkrunday we stayed close to home as I was still working on a DIY project I needed to be home for. Got in my 5 miles with strides. Got some funny looks as I was switching between 8m/m and then sprinting off at sub-5 pace! Good session though, with some super speedy strides.

Sunday was the last “long” run, 12 mile medium-long. My legs were still VERY sore from all the DIY which meant it was a lot tougher than it should have been. I really would have liked for it to be a real easy confidence builder. Not to be! I ran a decent pace though, and even managed to grab a CR on a segment I’ve had my eye on for a while.

Summary

 

Welll that’s pretty much it! All that’s left is a few recovery runs and a rehearsal run. I’m writing this on Easter Monday, full of chocolate. I’m off to Copenhagen tomorrow morning for work and will soend the next 5 days eating very clean as a last minute boost to self confidence. Before I know it, I’ll be at the expo!

Looking at my “Fitness Trend” I’m about where I need to be. With 6 days to go, I’m hoping my remaining runs keep me where I am at and let my legs freshen up.

And here’s what I’ll be doing next week!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 6m Recovery 5m Recovery  Just a minor mileage reduction
Wednesday 7m General Aerobic (2m Marathon Pace) 6m General Aerobic (2m Marathon Pace)  Just a minor mileage reduction
Thursday Rest 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Friday 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 3m Recovery  Just a minor mileage reduction
Sunday VMLM 2017 VMLM 2017
Total Mileage 22m (Pre-race!) 19m (Pre-race!)

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 16 of 18

Heading into the first week of the taper, I felt quite lucky that my legs didn’t feel TOO shot to pieces. On the contrary in fact, they felt pretty strong just fatigued from the mileage. All my joints felt pretty good and I was hopeful that taper madness would remain at bay.

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest  Rest
Tuesday 8m (5 x 600m Intervals) 8m (5 x 600m Intervals) 8m (5 x 600m Intervals)
Wednesday 6m Recovery 6m Recovery 6m Recovery
Thursday Rest 4m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) Rest
Friday 4m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) Rest 4m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Saturday 8k-15k Tune-up race Newbury parkrun Newbury parkrun
Sunday 16m Medium-long 16m Medium-long 16m Medium-long
Total Mileage ~39m 37m 37m

A common mistake in tapering is  that people reduce volume AND  intensity, and I think that means your legs lose that sharpness the last 4 months of training have given you. No chance of that with a P&D schedule, with week 16 starting the same way week 14 did – 8 miles with 5 x 600m Intervals. These short sharp intervals are great for speed. Week 14 was tough. This week, I felt much stronger. I decided to try and remain as relaxed and comfortable as I could from the start, rather than going all out. And the results were pretty pleasing, with a royal flush progression of paces, running them at 5.43, 5.38, 5.35, 5.33 and finishing at 5.25 pace. Best of all, I finished not feeling totally exhausted and the jog back was nice and relaxed. A very enjoyable and very productive session!

Wednesday was a fairly uneventful 6 recovery miles. I ran this early in the morning as I was in Birmingham and not sure when I’d be able to leave the office. I’m not a huge fan of 6am starts but with 17 days until the race I was leaving nothing to chance and missing no planned session!

On Thursday I took another trip to Andover Therapy, where Martin gave my legs a good rub down. There were definitely some tight areas so I’m glad I went. When I left he said he was happy with my legs that they were ready and raring to go!

When I originally wrote my training plan I switched the book’s Friday run to Thursday, so I could feel fresher for Saturday’s tune-up parkrun. But when I PBed at Blandford, I kept the run on Friday… So I did the same this week too. I rested Thursday, so Friday I ran 4 miles with 6 strides. I really went for the pace with the strides, and I’m glad I did – I managed the fastest strides I think I’ve ever managed. Just the sort of sharpener I wanted ahead of a 5k PB attempt in the morning.

Come Saturday, I didn’t quite feel ready for a tilt at a PB, but we headed to Newbury parkrun anyway. I gave it everything I could but finished in 19.09 for 5th place. I would have liked a sub-19 but it wasn’t to be. Previously I thought this was avery flat course (which it largely is) though there are a couple of inclines which I’ve always told people are not hills. After Saturday, I’ve changed my mind! They definitely are! The course measured a bit long and Blandford measured a bit short, so I reckon I’m in similar shape if not better if I take the hills into account. Looking at HR couldn’t have given it any more! It served its purpose in the context of my training. The first mile was a blinder (Fastest ever, according to Strava). Mile 2 was slower but I was on pace, but mile 3s climbs are what killed it off.

I woke up on Sunday feeling VERY achey. I’d spent most of saturday doign DIY laying a laminate floor and other odd jobs. I stretched muscles I didn;t realise I had, though I’m not sure it counts as cross training! I headed out on my long run targeting 7.45 pace. It started well until about 5 miles in when the tummy cramos started. This resulted in 5 miles of start stop until I managed to get to Asda to use the facilities. By then, I’d stiffened right up and the last 6 miles were really tough. But its in the bank – though I finished wondering how the hell I’d manage another 10 miles on top of that AND 45s per mile faster! But in the training I must trust.

Weight

Weight wise not so good this week, put on a pound. But with a weekend away for Jodies Marathon it wasn’t surprising and I’m not concerned. if I can lose that pound back before the race then great. If I can’t then I’m still significantly lighter than last year.

Summary

I’m through the first taper week unscathed, after 2 very tough runs. I have 1 real “session” left to do next week on Thursday and then thats it! I can’t believe we are only 2 weeks away. Maranoia hasn’t kicked in yet and I hope that it won’t!

Next weeks plan:

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 8m (3 x 1m Intervals)  Rest
Thursday Rest  8m (3 x 1m Intervals)
Friday 5m (6 x 100m Strides)  Rest
Saturday Rest  5m (6 x 100m Strides)
Sunday 12 Medium-long  12 Medium-long
Total Mileage 32m  32m

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 15 of 18

Week 15 signals the last week of tough training and it means I can pull the party poppers – I’m tapering! Peak mileage week and on the whole I could tell… I’ve been very tired this week and have had a very hectic work week. My legs are definitely ready for a mileage reduction!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 10m (4 x 1200m Intervals) 10m (4 x 1200m Intervals) 10m (4 x 1200m Intervals)
Thursday  Rest Rest 11m Medium-long Moved to Thursday so not to run back to back long runs
Friday 11m Medium-long 11m Medium-long Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 22m Long  22m Long Needed to move to Saturday as supporting Jodie and Manchester on Sunday
Sunday 20m Long 5m Recovery  5m Recovery Switched from Sunday
Total Mileage 52m 55m

Tuesday was very unusual. I had to be in Lewes, Sussex for 10am, and back ready for a birthday dinner at 6pm. The intention was, due to the early start I would get home and do this run at lunchtime. But then last thing Monday, I was diverted to work in Hook on the way home in the afternoon which meant I wouldn’t have time to squeeze it in. So I had to do it first thing, and didn’t want to get up and run at 5am. So instead, I got up at 5am, drove for 2+ hours to Lewes, then did my run – at least I was 2 hours awake. I had to have a wet wipe shower but as it was only 7  miles recovery with 6 strides I didn’t work too hard. The strides were more for form than speed and really felt my stride was lengthening as the reps went on.

On Wednesday I was due for 10 miles, with 4 x 1200m intervals. Originally I was going to do this at lunchtime and go to the track, but work took over so I wasn’t able to. So I had to run in the evening and the intervals were on cycle path. I did them out and back, and the “out” was slightly uphill. The first 2 I managed to maintain a decent pace, but by the time I got to the third, my legs were swimming in lactic and felt like dead weights. I think the first 2 were too fast, which meant the second 2 had a few pauses. Considering how tired I was it wasn’t too bad. it got me thinking though… back when I was a bit slower, running 6.45-paced intervals when I was a 7 min/m 5k PB, that 15s was quite manageable. Running 15s per mile faster than 6.05 pace is a different story – the faster you get the tighter the margins, especially on longer intervals. I think if I had run 5.59s (5s faster than 5k) I probably could have maintained and would have been a more helpful session. Still, you live and learn!

Friday’s 11m Medium-long was bumped to Thursday – It was Manchester Marathon weekend which meant I needed to get my 22 in on Saturday – so I thought better of it running 11 then 22 without a rest day between! It was understandably tough, mainly because I ran it faster than it needed to be. But with the 22 scheduled to be slower than usual (concentrating on time on feet) and with Wednesdays intervals being a bit off, I thought it important to get a decent run in. Averaging 7.29 (GAP average 7.23) I think I accomplished that! A good boost after a couple of tough days.

As it was Manchester Marathon weekend for Jodie, I needed to do my last long run on Saturday. 22 miles in 3h05, so I could just spend the same amount of time on my feet as I hope to in London. I set off at 7am and ran between Andover and Basingstoke. It was a really locely route, with plenty of hills and lots of nice country views and running through villages. It was a great experience, one I will definitely do again! The HR monitor must have been playing up, as it was a very comfortable run, much easier than the HR monitor suggests.

As I mentioned, Jodie ran Manchester Marathon on Sunday. She’s had some injury setbacks in the last couple of months and it was touch and go if she was going to run, but I think she is glad she did. She ran with her friend Lucy on what turned out to be a very warm day. From what I saw, the event had significant improvements. The race village was expanded over a wider area, the start was more organised and the trams seemed to run a bit better. I think its a great event. Jodie and Lucy ran a fantastic 4.33, a PB for Lucy. I am very proud of Jodie for such an amazing accomplishment especially as she only gave birth 8 months ago. I just ran my uneventful 5 mile recovery when we got back!

Weight

After a weekend and a bit of eating pretty much crap, I wasn’t expecting to lose… in fact I wasn’t going to weigh myself because I thought it would be a gain! So I was pleasantly surprised to weigh in at 13st 9lbs, a 1lb drop for the week!

It looks like I may not quite meet my target – if I lose 1lb per week I’d reach 13st 6lbs. So it will take a week of really big effort to try and get a 2 pounder… However, even if I ran at the weight I am today, I would still be very happy. I’m going to try really hard this week to be good. The high mileage will drop so I need to be careful anyway, and hopefully with less mileage I’ll experience less hunger!

Summary

Well thats it then! The last big weeks training. I’m moving into the taper phase and I’m feeling pretty good. Getting through this week, with the long runs and long intervals, relatively unscathed gives me a lot of confidence. Time for the volume to reduce but I need to remember to keep the intensity up.

My fitness trend this week is a bit skewed by a couple of activities with dodgy heart rate readings. Not much I can do about it now anyway, I’m going to trust my taper and see how well the trend correlates to how I feel as my legs gradually find their way back to me!

Next weeks plan- a piece of cake compared to previous weeks!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m (5 x 600m Intervals) 8m (5 x 600m Intervals)
Wednesday 6m Recovery 6m Recovery
Thursday Rest Rest
Friday 4m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 4m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Saturday 8-15k Tune-up race Poole parkrun
Sunday 16m Long 16m Long
Total Mileage ~40m 37m