Category Archives: Virgin Money London Marathon 2017

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Prologue

It doesn’t seem long ago that I received the fantastic news that I’d been awarded the sole London Marathon “Club Place” we get at Running for Time. And yet here we are, Christmas Week, running the first week of my usual 18 week training schedule –  an adapted version of the “Pfitzinger and Douglas Advanced Marathoning 18 week/Up to 55mile per week” schedule.

Despite the grand plans to “pre-train” I made in my previous post, this didn’t quite go according to plan. I ended up participating in our local cross-country league for 3 of the 4 fixtures, which I performed well in – certainly better than I expected to!

bryanstonme

I also ran the “Full Monty“, a local, brutal 10m XC race with massive un-runnable hills which I again did better at than I thought I would

monty

So this, along with a  couple of speedy attempts at parkrun, meant most of my quality mileage was in Races, though I was able to put in some great track sessions which has clearly helped my speed my speed a lot.

races

My ultimate pre-training target was for a Sub-19:30 parkrun and to lose some weight. I had hoped for sub-20 at Swindon parkrun in mid-November as a “stepping stone” but only managed 20:21. Then at Newbury last week I ran a 19:47 in spite of the fact I’ve actually gained a bit of weight.

newburyWhat this shows me is that the training is working and if I had lost the weight I’d probably have hit that arbitrary goal – 30 seconds off my 5k time shows I am moving in the right direction. Given we’ve had birthdays and Christmas its unsurprising I’ve not been able to lose weight really. I’m still confident of my marathon goal of sub 3:05 though, as its usually in the new year when my mileage climbs that I am able to really focus on calorie control.

What the Newbury time trial has enabled me to do is reset my training paces to something more recent and relevant. Cracking out the trusty McMillan Calculator I plugged the numbers in and came back with these.

vLT (Lactate Threshold): 6:49 – So this is the sort of pace I’ll be running my Tempo runs at – hopefully, just under.

Long Runs: 7:30 – 8:46 – I’ve been trying to keep my long runs at s sub-8 pace in the build up, which falls in line with this range. The reason being is that I seem to run more economically at that pace and feel it will better prepare me come race day. So my target pace is 7:59

Easy Runs: 7:26 – 8:27 – I roughly translate this as my “General Aerobic” pace in the book. Again, in pre-training I’ve been trying to run at 7:30-7:45 so that will be my target range.

Recovery Runs: 8:32 – 9:13 – Yep, hopefully the slower end of this pace to give myself optimum chace to repair any damage I do!

 

So, I’m injury-free, my training plan is ready, I have my training paces. I’m ready to go! So here’s week 1’s planned schedule.

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m (4m Threshold) 8m (4m Threshold)
Wednesday Rest 4m Recovery I like to run 5 times a week
Thursday 9m General Aerobic 9m General Aerobic
Friday Rest 14m Medium-Long Christmas day on Sunday! Not doing a 14 miler then!
Saturday 4m Recovery 3m Recovery Standard parkrun day
Sunday 12m Medium-Long 3m Recovery Bonus Christmas Day parkrun

So this is 8 miles more than the book would have me run, however the overall weekly mileage is within 10% of an increase over the previous week, and my long runs are already ahead of plan so I should finish this week reasonably comfortably.

Time to get training!

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 1 of 18

Merry Christmas everyone! Week 1 of my training happened to fall in Christmas week which is quite tough really. Simon commented to me the other day that he didn’t know how I manage to train before Christmas. The only answer I can reflectively come up with for that is that its an 18 week plan and this is, by calendar, where that 18 weeks falls into. And I don’t want to skip the first 2 weeks – that would be like building a house but not digging the foundations!

It’s been a really positive week and managed to do all my planned sessions

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual (Strava) Brief Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m (4m Threshold) 8m (4m Threshold) 8m (4m Threshold)  Recovering from cold.
Wednesday Rest 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Thursday 9m General Aerobic 9m General Aerobic 9m General Aerobic
Friday Rest 14m Medium-Long 14m Medium-long
Saturday 4m Recovery 3m Recovery 3m Recovery
Sunday 12m Medium-Long 3m Recovery 3m Recovery
Total Mileage 33m 41m 41.5m

They key sessions of the week were the Threshold Run and the Medium-Long run.

I was really pleased with how the Threshold run went. I really wasn’t up for it and had been struggling with a cold and a tight chest so it probably wasn’t a brilliant idea, but I managed it and hit my paces just about bang on.

The 14m medium-long run was more challenging than it should have been, thanks to the Christmas rescheduling. But I just about managed to squeeze all my miles as subs except for one – which was stupidly uphill! The challenge of running round Yeovil is the amount of elevation you accrue, it makes it really tough going. Legs were utterly dead by the time I finished and with hindsight I probably would have planned this differently – but I got through it unscathed and should have gained some good leg strength from it!

On Christmas eve we visited Seaton parkrun. All in all it was a pretty disappointing experience. We were aware that sections of the course were on pebbles, and that on the website it says buggies are ‘unsuitable’ – but given all this and that I wasn’t going for a time I thought it would be OK. Unfortunately the run director on the day told me, mid run brief, that buggies were not allowed as is clearly advertised on the website! It is definitely NOT clear! Jodie took one for the team and just ran up and down the promenade with Ivy for 5k whilst I trudged round in a recovery jog, my legs still in bits. I felt a bit picked on and singled out and feel the RD handled it very badly and quite rudely. I am an experienced and capable Buggy runner and whilst it would have been difficult, I could see no reasons from a safety point of view why the pebbles would have affected the Buggy. It would have been slow but there was plenty of passing space on the affected sections. It was a very disappointing parkrun.

In Christmas day we stayed at our home parkrun in Andover. The opposite of seaton we had loads of fun and we’re joined by family.  It was a terrific atmosphere and was a brilliant start to our Christmas.

Summary

A positive start to training! Getting through week one can be a tough mental hurdle and given the season adds an extra dimension to the word “dedication”! Onwards and upwards!

Next weeks plan:

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday Rest 5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 5m Recovery 14m (8m Marathon Pace)
Sunday 13m (8m Marathon Pace) 5m Recovery
Total Mileage 40m 42m 1m more than previous week

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: The Masterplan

It still hasn’t quite sunken in that I’m actually going to be running the London Marathon! It’s a long held dream of mine to be able to run that 26.2 miles between Blackheath and Buckingham Palace and to think i am actually going to do it makes me giddy with excitement! So much so I’ve been meticulously planning every detail of just how I’m going to get to the start line. After all, “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”.

As such I’ve been frantically applying for my place officially (Which is confirmed – I will be number 21162) and finding a hotel that’s nearby the expo and with decent transport links to the start. We’ve gotten a room at the Ibis next to the Excel, perfect for the expo, but a (potentially very busy) DLR trip with 1 change to the start.

Phew. That was the admin sorted nice and early.

My thoughts then turned to “How am I going to get myself in shape to run a Good-for-Age” time. And the method is as simple as it was for Manchester. Train hard, lose weight. A bit like this snazzy diagram I’ve put together.

plan

Training

No good marathon was ever run without good training behind it. I needed a good training plan to get me in the right sort of shape – and why change what has worked before? I used the Pfitzinger and Douglas up to 55 miles, 18 week plan for 2 successful Greater Manchester Marathons. The third, Bournemouth, I tinkered with the method to use heart rate zones rather than pace zones with less than stellar results. So I’m going back to the tried and tested and use the old faithful McMillan Running Calculator to tell me my pace zones.

There are some things I know based upon my last Manchester experience. Firstly, they all need to be a bit faster than I did in Manchester, to get my body used to running at faster paces. This will of course be carefully built up and I must not forget, I am in significantly better shape now than I was this time last year. Secondly, the marathon paced runs are crucial. For Bournemouth I missed all of them, and boy did I suffer.

So I’ve carefully plugged all of my sessions into Garmin Connect calendar so my watch will tell me when to run, how far, and how fast.

I also learned at Manchester to trust the training. It really did deliver and it’s only on reflection I can recognise that.

I’m also going to make a conscious effort to work on my Core and upper body. So I have bolstered my training with a series of “30 day challenges” which I’m hoping will earn me some marginal gains.

Racing

The P&D training has some slots for “tune up” races later in the schedule. These were really helpful confidence boosters to me last year. o get faster at the marathon you need to get faster at the shorter distances. Before Manchester I ran an 18.54 so I figure to get GFA I’ll need to run a sub 18:30.  In the build up to Christmas (When P&D starts) I have a mini plan I’ve put together with some targets to get me at least sub 19:30 by then. With any luck a solid training block will see me break that a bit lower even, especially with the other “strand” of my training in play.

Moving into next year, along with some tune up 5ks I’ve scheduled in some bigger, longer races. The first one is Bramley 20. According to my schedule, this should be 18 miles with 12 at MP. So its a slight break from the plan, but its a good race thats relatively flat and a good distance to test myself with. My thinking is that I want to try and race this at target Marathon Pace, so 7.03 per mile (Sub 2.21). It will give me a good measure of “where I am”. If I can run that at MP or close to it with 8 weeks to go, I’d hope the remainder of my training can deliver me that extra 6 miles come race day.

The next big race is one Jodie and I have wanted to for a while, the Silverstone Half Marathon. A flat fast course around the famous racetrack, this is organised by London Marathon Events and PB friendly. According to McMillan I’ll need to run around 1.27.30 to be “on track”. Before I ran Cardiff in the build up to Manchester I thought this was in reach, but come race day I wasn’t feeling great, the weather was poor and it was actually during the Taper, so badly timed. Silverstone is much better positioned in my calendar this year and I’m hoping that if training goes well I’ll get somewhere near this.

Weight

No getting around it, the lighter I am the easier it will be to run. Its a lifelong battle but with the London Marathon on the horizon this is “game time”!

Using some fairly ropey calculations and information identified on Wikipedia, the body fat % for an “athlete” is < 18% which for me will likely equate to 13st 5lbs.

I’m going to start using MyFitnessPal again, but to be honest I know exactly what I need to do and I know I just need some willpower. Now London is in sight its the biggest motivator ever.

Time to execute the plan!

Mission GFA: Exciting Update!

For the last couple of years I have been training to bring my Marathon time down to under 3.05. This would secure me a place in the London Marathon as a “Good For Age” time.

I’ve coveted an entry into the London Marathon for several years. 6 ballot rejections in a row including this year.

I’ve been jealous and disappointed twice a year for 6 years. Once when the ballot rejections come out, and then when the London Marathon is on TV. I’m always horrible to be around, lose my sense of humour and generally get a bit down in the dumps.

Not only for London though… Every ballot I’ve entered for an Abbott World Marathon Major in the last 3 years has ended in rejection.

But my luck has changed this year. Despite not getting in through the ballot, our running club was awarded an entry through England athletics. And I am delighted to say that it was my name drawn from our eligible members to represent our club. Which means I am running the London Marathon!

london

To say I am delighted is a massive understatement. Everyone in our small but perfectly formed club deserves to run the London Marathon and I do feel like I have taken the place of some else who deserves it just as much if not more than me.

But with that said I am determined to give it my best possible performance and make the club proud.

And that means fulfilling my target of running that good for age time!

I’ll be blogging weekly training updates like I did for both successful Manchester marathons as it kept me focussed on training. It comes as no surprise to me that as I lost my mojo training for Bournemouth it was at the same time I had no time to blog. If I’m not obsessing over my splits and times, I’m not trying hard enough!!

So whilst the game has changed, but the aim stays the same.  Get that GFA.

But failing that, my BQ time is only 3.10 🙂