Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Marathon Motivation

As I have mentioned before, I am running Brighton Marathon on 6th April 2014. This will be my first marathon, having run 76 parkruns, numerous 10Ks and 3 half-marathons since I started running in summer 2011.  Like many would-be marathon runners I am feeling daunted by the challenge, but also excited. I am very aware that training over the winter will be tough – I do actually prefer training in the cold, but it is hard to remember that when it is dark, freezing and I’ve just done a long day at work.  

My training plan officially started yesterday (I have a 16 week Runners World schedule, but I’ve added in some additional weeks in case of injury or illness) but I’ve been looking ahead to January and February and thinking about how to ensure I stay motivated.  Luckily, I’m not the only runner facing the same challenges and one of my favourite podcasts, MarathonTalk, is running a challenge called Jantastic. I participated last year and found it really helped me to make sure I ticked off my weekly runs. You can sign up from December and basically you pledge the number of runs that you are going to do each week throughout the period. Last year I went for 4, which at the time was challenging but manageable and helped me to a good PB at the Cambridge Half Marathon (in March). This year, my marathon training plan requires 5 runs a week, so that is what I will be pledging. It already feels daunting, but I am sure that Jantastic will help me brave the wintry conditions and get out there.
My training plan doesn’t just include running. I’m lucky in that I have never had a serious injury, but I have, for want of a better word, dodgy knees. My right knee in particular tends to get stiff and occasionally painful. I’ve had it checked out by a physio who couldn’t see anything in particular wrong – it is likely to be weak, tight muscles rather than an issue with the joint itself. Over the summer I did a strength session at the gym every week (weighted lunges, squats etc) and did see some improvement.  Over Autumn I stopped doing the sessions as regularly but recently the knee pain is back, so the sessions are on the plan again – initially fortnightly to make it manageable, but I’ll see how that goes.
On top of the strength sessions, I know that I need to improve my flexibility. I already do a weekly Pilates class and I am hopeful that increased core strength will help support my body as the training runs get longer. However, I have been thinking for a while about adding in a yoga class to focus specifically on stretching rather than strength. Charlie from one of the other blogs that I follow, The Runner Beans is organising a 21 day Yoga Challenge for January and I have decided to join in. Charlie has kindly allowed me to bend the rules slightly by including Pilates as well as Yoga, but it will still be tricky to attempt to fit in 5 runs a week, a strength session and 21 yoga/Pilates sessions over the course of 31 days! I’m looking forward to embracing the increased exercise though (and the additional food and sleep that comes with that) and will be blogging my way through all aspects of marathon training.
Do let me know what you're training for and how it is going.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The trouble with the back-up plan

This morning I should be getting up to eat my porridge, putting on my favourite kit, applying Vaseline to my feet and heading off to a local town to run my second Autumn half-marathon. Instead I'm going to be eating a non-porridge breakfast, putting my jeans on and heading off to the local town to watch my husband run his second Autumn half-marathon. Why aren't I running? I'm not injured (bar a niggly knee that I need to keep an eye on) or unwell, I just made the decision a few weeks ago to record my first planned DNS.

This race was my back up plan, my B race - it was my second chance for sub-2 if the Royal Parks hadn't gone to plan. As it happens, it went very much to plan and I'm still chuffed with the PB I set there. That left me a bit confused about what to aim for in this race - did I attempt another PB (lots more hard training) or just enjoy the race (do you ever really enjoy 13.1 miles especially if there's no prospect of a PB?!). I decided that with the start of a 16 -18 week marathon plan looming at the beginning of December, the lots more hard training option wasn't actually a good idea especially as I wasn't feeling that motivated. Doubts started to creep in about whether I wanted to race. The final straw came a few weeks ago when I was ill on the weekend that I would have had to have run a long run to have had any chance of a decent race. The decision was made - I was dropping out. 

Since then I've felt much more relaxed -apart from the knee issue I feel ready to take on marathon training soon and I've given my body a rest. With hindsight I'd never have entered this race, but having it as a back up took the pressure off the Royal Parks, so in some small way it helped me get my PB!

Good luck to all those running today - I'll be cheering on everyone at St Neots,