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.