VLM 2017 – ‘do as I say, not as I do’

2 more weeks have past and the marathon training is really starting to ramp up.

Week 4 included 3 runs of 10 miles or more, including a 19 mile long run for a total of 50 for the week. Originally I had planned a 47 mile week with an 18 mile long run, but having upped my mileage the previous week, it seemed a logical decision to add the odd mile here and there.

The current week didn’t start as planned. A 4 day work trip to Lucerne and temperatures of around minus 8 degrees meant I had to attempt my LT session on the treadmill at 6.30am. The lack of sleep and heat of the gym resulted in a failed session with only 3 of the 5 LT miles completed. My dislike for the treadmill led me to brave the freezing conditions for my recovery and general aerobic runs, which I did but a little quicker than I should have – I blamed this on the need to keep warm!

Saturday’s recovery run including Gunnersbury parkrun was too quick again – no excuse this time.

So having spent the previous few weeks advising and sometimes lecturing others on the need to run the majority of training miles at an easy pace and to be disciplined by sticking to the plan, I needed to have a word with myself. It’s definitely a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’.

Today’s run was more of the same, although it has also given me a lot of confidence just 5 weeks into the plan. This morning was the inaugural Farnborough Half Marathon. As previously mentioned the plan was to do a few warm up miles, start the race slowly and finish with 10 miles @PMP (7.00mm). My preparation was going well – a large meal the night before, early breakfast, plenty of hydration and I arrived at the race in good time. And then it happened, I reached into my bag to put my Garmin on and I couldn’t find it. ‘Panic’ (this is overdramatic – frustration and a little annoyance was more the reality) struck – how could I run this properly without a watch! I soon calmed down and set out a plan. Starting slowly and picking up to 7mm was going to be difficult as I would be out of synch with other runners and would have no idea what pace I was running. I decided that I would push myself to 6.52mm for the first 10 miles, as I knew there was a 1 hour 30 pacer, and then finish with 3 slower miles. The pacer was very good and I didn’t miss the watch too much. I felt comfortable throughout and in part this was probably down to not having the constant distraction of checking my watch. The course itself was relatively flat, although there were a few slight inclines and a couple of uphill miles leading up to the 9 mile point. So when the 10 mile point came up, I was towards the highest point of the course. I initially stuck to the plan and eased off, but as we were running downhill I was able to keep with the pacer without too much difficulty. And so yet again I went against my own rhetoric by keeping with the pacer to the end. In truth it was very comfortable and finishing in 1.29.15 (my 3rd quickest half marathon) I now have a dilemma as to whether to step up my training and try and achieve sub-3 or stick with the original goal of 3.05 and GFA.

I don’t need to make a decision yet, but will see how the training goes over the next few weeks and see whether I need to adjust my goals – but most importantly, I need to stick to the plan!

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Virgin London Marathon (VLM) 2017

A new year, the Olympic challenge has ended but the sporting challenges continue in the form of the 2017 Virgin London Marathon (VLM). London will be my 5th marathon and the 1st marathon that I can focus 100% on without the distraction of other sports. London was also the venue of my 1st marathon in 2013, but I’m hoping to have a much more successful run and enjoyable experience this time around.

The marathon is on 23rd April and I’m already 3 weeks into my training plan. I’ve chosen the 18 week, 33-55 mile P&D plan again (the same as for New York), with a few tweaks where I’ve upped the mileage and long run distances and other minor changes to accommodate holidays.

And so far so good. I’ve hit the paces on my faster runs and felt comfortable on my 3 long runs (14, 15 and 17 miles), with the 15 mile run also including 8 miles and my target marathon pace.

Having ran 3 hours 16 minutes and 13 seconds for my last marathon (New York, Nov 2015), the obvious target would we to try and dip under 3.15 or 3.10. However, having not run a marathon for over a year (longest since my first marathon) and will be almost 18 months by the time London comes around, I’ve progressed significantly during this time and feel that I need to set myself a more ambitious goal. Having struggled with motivation in the build up to San Sebastian last year, resulting in dropping down from the full marathon to the half, I also feel the need to have a stretch target to get me out on the cold, wet and windy days. So, sub-3.05 is the target – not only is this going to be a challenge for me, it would also give me a VLM ‘Good for Age’ (this is running a time that VLM consider to be a suitably fast time for your age category that they will allow you to automatically qualify for one of the next 2 VLMs.

The next 15 weeks is likely to bring about many ups and downs, but if I focus on the plan and hopefully stay injury free then I think I have a good chance of achieving my goal.

To keep me on track I’ve included a number of events, which I’m going to use for my faster training runs and warm up races ahead of the marathon:

  • Farnborough half marathon – 16 miles with 10 miles @ PMP
  • Watford half marathon – 18 miles with 12 miles @ PMP
  • Thorpe park half marathon – Race
  • Clapham Riverside 20 – 20 miles @ 7.30mm
  • Fleet half marathon – 18 miles with 13.1 miles @ PMP
  • Northala parkrun – Race
  • Datchet 20 – 22 mile training run
  • Battersea 10k – Race

With any luck I’ll achieve new 5K, 10K and half marathon PBs along the way.

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