Manchester Marathon 2017 training blog – the final countdown
So it’s fair to say that I haven’t really kept up my planned weekly posting of my marathon training blog. So now we are, three days out, and it’s time to take stock of where I am.
I approached this training block with one goal for the race – to run under 2:45 on race day. My previous best at the same race last year was 2:46:45, and that at a race plan that was aimed at just going a bit under 2:50. So realistically I just needed to approach race day in slightly better or similar form to in 2016, and then execute a good race.
My training block again has been solid with the same plan as last year, with a good balance of easy runs, speedwork, and a ‘medium’ amount of weekly mileage ranging from 50-80 miles a week. One of the major changes I’ve made this year has been in my strength and core conditioning, which outside of my running I paid basically no attention to. I kept this up regularly by attaching it to my running mentally – I am always very good at making sure I do the sessions on my plan, so I decided the plan would be to always do a strength and conditioning session on a day where I had a run session (six times a week). This session was really brief and not intensive at all – using two one kilo dumbells, the session was; fifteen reps each of three different lifts, fifteen shoulder rolls holding dumbells by your side, and then fifteen press ups and twenty sit-ups. Despite this session taking only ten minutes at the absolute maximum, doing it regularly over the twenty weeks has made a massive difference – trust me, I could barely do a sit up without throwing my head forward back in December – and I’m sure that this has helped in terms of my core stability in running.
I’ve had some good results in races over the run up, a 34:49 PB at the slightly long Dewsbury 10K, 1:17:51 at the baltic Liversedge Half, and a 17:03 PB at Woodhouse Moor Parkrun. However it’s once I’d run some of my key training sessions that I got an idea of where my form really was. In week 17 I ran a full twelve Yasso 800s session – 800m hard, 400m easy, then 800 hard again. I averaged 2:42:7 for the efforts which is supposed to translate into 2:42 for the marathon. I’d been toying with trying to go a little bit further under 2:45 – basically running 6:13 minutes per mile, and over the final few weeks I’ve been running at this pace over some longer runs between 10-12 miles and over shorter runs in the final run in, and it’s felt comfortable.
The final piece of validation that all is going well came when Strava introduced their premium fitness & freshness feature to running activities (previously it had only been available for cycling). This takes the effort of the session, heart rate, and builds a graph showing fitness, fatigue and form. This reinforced that after my training I was back up to around where I was the previous year, and crucially that as I tapered down that my accumulated fatigue was falling away and my form coming back.
The only slight concern in the run up to race day as been a small – medium niggle in my right ankle and calf. It’s been an odd little injury – more awkward when walking or getting up to speed, but not a problem at all once I’m clipping along. As the days have come down it has become less and less of a problem – so fingers crossed, it should be fine.
There isn’t much more to do now, but rest and remind myself that the work is in the bag, and it’s just time to deliver now.