One week (ish) out from London…

Week 19/20 of the London Marathon training block

I’m now one week away from the start line of the London Marathon, and I’m at a bit of a crossroads. All of the work in the training block has been done, but I still don’t quite know what to do. I’m not really sure quite what to try and achieve on race day.

In my last review of the first sixteen weeks of my training block, I’d mentioned my clubmate Tom who had the potential to go and break my two forty-four club record at Manchester. Despite having a cracking run with two forty-six, the record is safe for now. So what do I do now?

I’ve never really gone into a marathon not trying to do my best or to *do better*, so at the very least I’ll be aiming to break two forty-four. But the real question is: to sub two-forty or not to sub two-forty?

The lower you get with marathon times, the more and more precise you have to be with target times and the more and more significance can be attached to a handful of seconds. In terms of percentages, the lower your time the smaller amount of seconds are needed to PB by, say 10%. So I’m slightly reserved about properly going for it – the difference between going for two forty-three and under two forty. But then again, now that I don’t have to work on getting the club record back, I don’t really have anything to lose. I’m in decent form, so if everything goes right on the day and from the start I had the courage to just push the envelope enough, then I might be in the position to do something special.

Earlier this week I ran one of my typical marathon training sessions that comes right at the end in my taper – a 10 or 12 mile run at marathon pace. I often do a similar run earlier in the block, which is supposed to be a hard training run, but at this point in the season it’s supposed to be a bit more of a chilled out run. Before I set off, I worked out that a sub two forty marathon would be 6:06 per mile.

Was the run reassuring? Kind of. The miles on the canal I ticked off reasonably comfortably at 6:06s, but the little bits where I pushed up the canal locks took the wind out of me a bit – so I know, that yet again, that running a sub two forty will be right on the edge of what I’m able to do.

If I wake up on race day however, and I feel good, then I might just go for it.

UPDATE: I wrote this last weekend, while I was watching no play in the cricket at Headingley due to a wet outfield. After the grim dank wetness of the Friday, I had no idea I would be sitting here looking at a scorching weather report for Sunday.

All of this has put a potential kybosh on the 2:40 plans. Although it is probably still possible, if the temperatures get up to what it says they could then running on that edge could cause me to overheat, and blow.

The annoying thing is that the advice to adjust your race expectations down due to heat is just something that I’m not that mentally ready for, and I’m sure that many people will feel the same. Yet again I’ve got myself in the form of my life, and I’m ready for the big one. I could still try to go for a 2:43 PB – adjusting my expectations down means three minutes, right?

It could still be cooler than we think – it looks like it’s getting a little bit better, but there will still be a bit of an element of the unknown. I’ll have a proper think about race plans, and then listen to the body on the day.

Philip Goose

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