MCR 26.2 Blog W17/20: Final(ish) Manchester Marathon goal-setting

So this morning I finished my final long run of this training block – from now on the overall weekly mileage of my weeks tails off, allowing me to rest up, repair my body from the training, and to be strong enough to put the training into practice on race day.

In general this training block has gone really well. Despite starting the twenty week block trying to overcome injury and poor form, I’ve been able to build well, get the miles and the sessions in, run a half marathon PB and finish 5th again at the Liversedge Half, and overall have felt that I’ve come out of the training a bit faster than I was this time last year.

So now I’m looking at deciding what goal to go for at the Manchester Marathon and what realistically is possible. Last year this was much simpler – my goal was to go for my first sub three hour marathon. Knowing that I just wanted to be inside that mark I was able to run conservatively and then speed up to finish in 2:53:23.

So knowing that I ran conservatively in 2015 and could have run faster than my two fifty-three, and believe that I am a bit faster than I was then, what is possible this year? In 2015 the plan was to run under 6:50 (a predicted time of 2:59:02) and then speeding up over the final three. With the confidence in my form I was thinking I might be able to run 6:25s (2:48:07) and then speed up over the final three.

That was until a week or so ago, when my confidence took a bit of a dent. Although the 100 mile training week I ran last week was a fun challenge, it was physically draining. This week I’ve felt that I’ve still been a bit run down, trying to get my final big training week in whilst trying to recover at the same time.

Looking over Strava this afternoon, after doing my 20 mile long run at an easy 7:10 pace to try and recover, I saw a couple of my running friends doing their own 20 mile plus long runs at a 6:30-35 pace. I know that I’m in the same bracket as a runner as these guys, so why am I getting worried?

Mentalists. I'd be happy to be at this point at 24 miles on race day!
Mentalists. I’d be happy to be at this point at 24 miles on race day!

A while back I attended a talk by Jason Gillespie, former Australian fast bowler and now Yorkshire cricket coach. Over the winter he managed the Adelaide Strikers Twenty20 side to the semi-finals of the tournament, and spoke about what mentality he tried to coach into them. He spoke about how he drilled into his team through his captain Brad Hodge, that they should not be afraid to fail and play with freedom. This doesn’t mean not wanting to win, but it is about using that pressure in a positive manner. It means having confidence in your skills, in your role in the team and the game plan, and knowing that if you execute what you are capable of then you and the team are likely to succeed.

Running a marathon should be very much the same. You shouldn’t need luck – and at any rate anything that does rely on luck, the weather on the day for example, are completely out of your control. I know that I’ve got all of the training in that I need and that everything I’ve done as shown that I’m faster this year round. I know that this tells me that I should have the capability to run a sub two-fifty. I just know need to have the confidence to go out and not be afraid to fail, to run with freedom, and to know that if I do that I am likely to succeed.

All I need to do first is to know that if I rest up and taper properly over the next few weeks then my form will come back to me…

Philip Goose

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