London "Marathon Training"

14 April 2015, 09:43

VLM sign

It’s two weeks to go until London marathon, and everyone (who knows I’m running, at least) is asking me “How’s marathon training going?”

And that feels like an odd question, because I don’t really feel like I’ve been marathon training this time around. For the bulk of January and February, I was putting four runs a week in, but I wasn’t following any strict plan. Sure, I’d do tempo on Tuesday, shorter easy runs on Mondays and Thursdays, strength training on Fridays, and something longer on Sundays, but it wasn’t to a strict, pre-ordained pace for x minutes of the run, and if I felt particularly unmotivated, I’d often cut the run a bit shorter, or go a bit slower than planned.

Post run legs

Mentally, I’ve always had this summer’s World Transplant Games as my “A-race”, and London marathon as my “B-race”. It’s my 5th marathon since I ran my first in 2012, and my second time running London. I got my own Good For Age place off the back of last year’s time, so I’ve not needed to hit up people for fundraising for it this year (though I am raising funds to get me to the World Transplant Games!). In fact, until I ran Cambridge Half in March, mentally it didn’t really feel like I was running a marathon in six weeks at all – the running I’d been doing was just what I’d be doing anyway, race or not. But my performance in that race surprised me, and showed me that I was capable of applying the same formula to other races, and that Berlin marathon last Fall wasn’t a fluke.

In fact, since Cambridge my general approach to London marathon is to try and replicate the success of Berlin – run it well paced up until the Run dem Crew cheer explosion at Mile 21, then up the pace and gun it down The Highway and the Embankment to the finish. I’m certainly hoping that a well-controlled pace will allow me to enjoy the race more than I did last year. Everyone who runs London marathon comments on how amazing the crowd support is, and I won’t deny that the crowds were bigger, louder, and more consistently present along the entire London course – much moreso than in any race I’ve ever run. But for me, the constant din of people shouting at me for such a sustained period of time (no matter what the intent behind it) was emotionally exhausting, and the crowds pushing into the road downright claustrophobic.

NYC running

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve run plenty of big city races before, and I’ve always appreciated the points where the crowds really get you hyped up and energised. But those parts are always balanced with other areas of the course which are maybe only one or two people deep, shady, and a lot quieter, too, which make you able to appreciate the loud parts more fully. Without the quiet sections to balance it, London was just constant shouting with no relief, especially if you are already in a world of pain from starting off at (insane, suicidal) “What the hell was I thinking breaking my 10km PB in the first 10km??” pace.

So I’m hoping that by keeping my pace controlled and my mind relaxed, I’ll be able to enjoy London much more this year. And if I don’t, then I’ll be making some tough choices about whether I want to run it again next year, GFA or not. There are far too many spring marathons out there I’d like to run, and I don’t see much point in running one I don’t enjoy (but as cross country proves, I’ve got to try anything twice to confirm I don’t enjoy it!).

Group with Buckinham Palace

In the last few weeks, I’ve been carrying on with the motions of marathon training – I’ve run my 20 miler (along the riverside with fellow RDC runner Pip for company), and this past week a group of us ran the second half of the marathon course to have it fresh in our heads. This course run-through was the single most helpful run of my entire training last year, and really helped me push through the pain barrier on race day to know exactly where I was in relation to the major mile markers. And since this isn’t my “A-race” this year, and I’ve not got any time pressure, having proved myself with a hat-trick of PB, GFA, and BQ (Boston Qualifier) last year, I’m really looking instead to just run it well paced, enjoyable, and with a strong finish. And if it’s not as blisteringly hot as last year, that’d be nice, too!

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  1. Hope it goes well for you Melissa! My brother in law is running this year for the first time, but he’s had to battle injuries over the last few weeks so not sure if he’s going to have a great run. We’ll see!

    Sam    16 April 2015, 08:53    #

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