This week marks the start of training for marathon number two - Manchester Marathon. I thought it would therefore be a good time to consolidate and remind myself of the five key lessons I took on from my very first experience of training for the London Marathon this year. At London I ran 4:09:32, and am now aiming for a sub 4hr time (ideally closer to 3hrs 45mins!!)
1) Rest Days
Before training for the London Marathon I exercised every day of the week. It was habit, and despite a background in studying sport/sport science I failed to recognise that my body actually needed time to rest in order to adapt to and recover from its training demands. I now have one rest day a week; I look forward to the mental break from having to push myself, and am also able to feel in my body when a break from exercise is needed. I thus fully intend to ensure rest days continue throughout marathon training.
2) Running Pace
For my first attempt at marathon training I was focused on distance - could I actually run for 26.2 miles? In my plan I soon disregarded the recommendations of what pace to run at, or when to include intervals etc., instead focusing on watching my weekly mileage tally up. It worked - I ran non stop for the whole marathon distance, at a very consistent pace, and in a time I am hugely proud of. But I recognise now that training like this did make me very one paced. I lost all my speed during marathon training - a clear impact of doing no real speed work - and any attempt at a shorter distance, such as Park Run, left me feeling sluggish. So this time the brain aching, heart pounding, leg draining intervals and tempo running WILL be included.
3) Foam Roller and Sports Massage
Both of these were factors I had not fully utilised prior to marathon training. I had a foam roller - a start I guess! - but had used it sparingly when I developed IT band pain a few years ago, and it had been sat dormant in the corner of my room since. Foam roller work definitely helped maintain my legs during training and also combatted any slight niggle that tried to develop; so I plan to use my roller daily to keep them in check. It was only when my calves became so tight during marathon training that I actually sought help from a Sports Massage Therapist - and am now converted. I have monthly massages to maintain my muscles and can feel when one is needed. Am I too reliant on them? Maybe, but if it helps then I am not about to stop!
4) Exercise Classes
My weekly exercise routine includes attending Body Pump and Body Attack exercise classes. During training for the London Marathon I kept attending Body Pump twice a week, and intend to do this again for my new plan. I find the strength work is of benefit to my endurance and also helps with injury prevention - plus I love the class too much to sacrifice! Body Attack classes are something I will admit I am struggling to know what to do with. The class is very high intensity and can leave you feeling exhausted, but it does include a lot of plyometric moves and cardiovascular work which is of benefit to running. During London Marathon training the class was not on for a large percentage of my plan due to instructor unavailability, but now it is back. Fitting this class into my plan will be a struggle, and potentially a run may have to be sacrificed for it. I need to weigh up the pros and cons, and whether I want to miss the social side of the class, which is something I really enjoy.
I started blogging at the beginning of my London Marathon training journey to help raise the profile of the charity I was running for, keep people up to date on my training progress, and admittedly to try help attract any potential sponsorship. I have kept the blog going for over a year now and find it a very useful tool for reflecting on my running/training and also for recording special moments and memories that running gives me. Writing and sharing my posts does play a part in my motivation levels, and I also hope that other people may be able to learn or seek comfort in the same feelings/process I am going through. So 'Alice's Adventures in Running Land' will continue towards the Manchester Marathon - and beyond!
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...