Every year that has gone by my ambitions at this race have grown. In my first year I took on and completed my first sub three hour marathon – a two fifty-three. In my second I set off with the goal of going under the two fifty mark, and did it again – two fourty-six. So for my third attempt there was only one thing for it – my first goal for 2017 was to be a crack at going under two hours and fourty-five minutes, the qualifying standard for the championship start at the London Marathon. This had been my target and my motivation since I started my training block, unfit and slow, back at the beginning of November, and has kept me going all through the winter months and hard, high mileage weeks as race day got closer. And as that day approached, the form was there. After all the work the final key sessions which test my final form and pace showed that 6:13 a mile and a two fourty-three marathon was possible. So going into race day I had an A, B and C target to try and manage my expectations – go under my PB of 2:46:45, then under two fourty-five, and then to try and get close to that two fourty-three finish.
I was asked in the run in if I had any ‘taper niggles’, imaginary demons that make you skittish and nervous in the run up to race day. I didn’t have any taper niggles, I had taper problems. Two weeks or so out I picked up a problem in my right calf and ankle which was just about settling down in race week, and then on the Thursday of race week I picked up a bit of a cold. I was pretty grotty on the Friday, then a little bit better on the Saturday, and spent most of that day napping on my reasonably priced hotel chain bed and praying I would wake up better still.
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.
Normally as I approach March, with my traditional Spring marathon coming up, the miles are stacking up and the weeks are getting bigger and bigger. So when I heard about Challenge 31 by Ashmei, one of my favourite running kit companies, I immediately decided to take part. The challenge was clear – to run a mile every day for the month of March, or to run 131 miles during March, with the reward up for grabs of up to 31% off their great kit. Although as the Ashmei website points out, 131 miles would be the equivalent of five marathons, at this stage of my training I’m running the equivalent of three a week – so part of my challenge would to try and be the first participant to finish the 131 challenge.
Running every day seems like a tough challenge but with the looming marathon at the very start of April my motivation to train as been very high. With the challenge, I think that is key – having a goal that you are building for helps you to get out every day. So the start of my challenge started with some tough sessions building to the marathon – a full 10 mile 12 by 800m interval session on day one, an eight mile session at sub 2:45 marathon pace, and then on Friday (my normal rest day) a quick, wet, mile to do the minimum for the day.