Marathon Training Plan Week 17. 26.2 Miles. Not Exactly Grease Lightning – But I Did IT!

Marathon Training Run. 26.2 Miles In 5.50 Hours. Very Pleased But Not Exactly Grease Lightning!!
Marathon Training Run. 26.2 Miles In 5.50 Hours. Very Pleased But Not Exactly Grease Lightning!!

Marathon Training Plan Week 17. 26.2 Miles In 5.35 Hours – Not Exactly Grease Lightning But I Did IT!

Running Do’s: If It Is Not Too Hot – Chop Up Small Pieces of Chocolate To Take On Your Longer Runs

Running Don’ts: Suddenly Change Your Routine (Like I Did Below!). It Will Significantly Increase Your Chance Of Injury. Incremental Changes Will Allow You To More Accurately Measure The Impact On Your Body

Background: I have signed up to the London Marathon 2015, having never run before and recently having undergone major knee surgery (twice). This is my weekly diary which captures the highs and lows of my attempt to get fit enough to run the marathon in April 2015. I am running for the mental health charity Mind. Please donate to my Virgin Just Giving page – every penny goes directly to Mind and helping people with their mental health – thank you. I am following a 30 week marathon training schedule that has been defined for me by Jeff Galloway the American Olympic Marathon runner. Jeff espouses the run – walk – run method which enables you to gradually build up your strength, endurance and speed.

Week 15 Schedule: 23 miles (run 10 secs/walk 40 secs) actually ran 26.2 miles in 5.35 hours.  2 X 60 min cadence and track sessions.

Weekly Diary: Ok for those you have been reading my earlier posts you will no doubt have noticed a bit of a theme – namely that I have a tendency to go astray from my training plan. I am definitely not condoning this as it can lead to injury and over-training. At the same time as that wise old fellow Helmuth Von Moltke The Elder once observed that “no plan survives contact with the enemy”. Wise words indeed Helmuth. It has to be said – the enemy in my case is usually myself and this time was no different!

So after the 20 miler I completed with my younger (much fitter) brother Stephen, I was feeling quite perky about this. Much as I enjoy the weekly Cadence Drills (no really – honest!) – there is something about getting the 20+ milers under your belt. Perhaps it is the dawning reality that I might, I say again, MIGHT, pull this off. After all the 20 miler had gone well – and lots of marathon training plans only go up to 20 miles – so I was going to be well ahead I reckoned.

Stephen and I agreed to run first thing Saturday morning. We had to get a shift on as Stephen had a hard deadline in the early afternoon – there was no margin for error. The plan was that at 8.00am sharp we would be out on the asphalt on our way to running a gentle 23 miles. By 8.30am there was no sign of Stephen – he rocked up at 8.40 muttering something about his 5 year olds demands for numerous toilet stops on the M4. Fair enough I thought these things happen.


Marathon training week 17 . Lesson: don't lose your water bottle

Marathon training week 17 . Lesson: don’t lose your water bottle

Stephen had also managed somehow to lose all his water bottles (is there a connection with the toilet stops?) so we spent the next 5 minutes scrambling around my kitchen cupboards looking for suitable ‘elite’ branded hydration bottles. After a thorough search we ended up with a ‘High 5’ bottle (not bad brand wise) and two ‘My Little Pony’ bottles (not so good) – our pending embarrassment would be made worse by the fact that these bottles would be visible to all others on our run.

Bugger it. We had no choice. Anyway, elite runners like us (or Stephen) didn’t care what they looked like. It was all about the run!! No honestly it is! No really! Why don’t you believe me?!

So we left the house at 8.55am with an array of children’s drink ware. We were well and truly up against it time wise – and I would be lying if I said it didn’t affect me. If proper preparation helps ease pre-race nerves than I am going to make damn sure I am better organised next time – I promise.

Outside, it was a clear sky but it was bloody cold, windy and we had sleet to keep us company for the first 7 or so miles. For the early miles – say the first 12 – we kept to a ratio of 10 seconds run/40 seconds walk. This was great from an energy perspective – but I have to say it did very little to warm either of us up. It became increasingly hard to integrate the run walks.

Due to the cold we then switched to a 10 second run/20 second walk in an attempt to get warmer. This worked to a degree – as we were effectively running more –  we gradually began to warm up and the stiffness gradually eased. I have to say, I am really looking forward to the warmer weather. I love running in the rain, but the cold is something else.

Running A Marathon. Training Plan: Shrek!

Running A Marathon. Training Plan: Shrek!

My abiding memory was how much harder this felt than the 20 miler I had completed only weeks earlier. On reflection I think this was down to the fact that it was marginally warmer on the 20 miler and also it was a brand new course so I had less of a sense of how far there was to run (which somehow seemed to have a positive affect on me). Also I was in a better mental place as we were better organised that day.

So we ground out the miles – it seemed to take an age. I also felt bad because Stephen is a much quicker runner than me and it must have been tough for him to run so slowly. Teach him to be so fit!! The upside was that we had an opportunity to chat, catch up on life and generally talk shite. The views across the Wiltshire countryside were beautiful – despite it being the dead of winter. That said, I will be welcoming with open arms.

Our (my) progress was remarkably slow even with the 10/20 ratio. It was abundantly clear (even with my kindergarden level maths) that we were not going to run 23 miles in time for Stephen to hit his hard deadline. For once in our lives we took the sensible option. As luck would have we were running a 9 mile circular route (x3) past my house – so Stephen and I parted ways at 18 miles. Like a true hero I would have to go it alone.

left to my own devices I made what can only be described as a bizarre decision. I was going to run the remaining miles, and, furthermore, I was going to run the full 26.2 miles – to hell with the 23. Looking back, I am going to blame this rather bizarre set of decisions on the fact that I had consumed my body weight (14.7 stone/208 pounds) in sugary sweets and necked about 20 pints worth of electrolyte drink. I really don’t know what got into me.

So off I trotted. All out running/shuffling. I can honestly say that I only lasted 3 miles – and, further these 3 miles were the hardest miles I have ever run in my life. If this was the wall then I hadn’t just hit it, I was well and truly embedded in it! It was my own bloody fault and I should have known better.

After 3 miles, I came to my senses, or rather ground to a near halt. I was going nowhere fast. I decided to switch back to a 10/40 ratio and within a couple of intervals at this ratio I was literally back up and running (or rather run/walking) and my strength seemed to return along with my confidence. It was bloody cold, but step by step, mile by mile I ground it out. My pace slowed considerably and I was down to 16 min miles by the end.

Eventually 26.2 miles appeared on my Strava app. – I have to say I had been staring at it non-stop for the last several miles. I am surprised I hadn’t been run over.

So it was done – I had achieved a distance that I never believed was possible. Rather than feel elated – as is typical of me, I focused only on the negatives. I felt guilty for not sticking to my plan and ignoring the run/walk ratios. Although I felt ok, I was also really hoping that I hadn’t injured myself. I had in reality ignored all the good guidance I had been given and had readily passed onto others.

On the positive side – I had actually achieved something I never though possible – not in my wildest dreams. And despite the fact that I had not exactly kept to my plan – I had engaged with the enemy, and, this time, come up trumps. 

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