Training and resting are the two things that I feel that I excel at with marathon training. Nutrition is probably the one of the three key areas that I am weakest at.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot more about what I eat. I’ve been taking part in a GlaxoSmithKline Human Performance Lab study recently (more of that in a full post later), and one of the things that it is focussing on is the diet of reasonably fast endurance athletes.
During the three week study there have been a few key rules. No alcohol, no caffeine, no vitamins or supplements – these are partly to ensure all participants are eating a healthy diet, but also to remove any other factors that could be affecting the results. During week one and week three I have had to keep a food diary, and during the middle week I have been eating a specific diet provided to me as part of the study.
Now being eleven weeks out from marathon day, I’m getting into the situation that many runners will be in – my training is beginning to come together, certain training runs are giving me confidence that I’m where I need to be. Whisper it quietly, but I’m almost looking forward to skipping forward and seeing what I can do come race day.
That feeling lasted until this weekend. It wasn’t punctured in a big way, by an injury or anything, but just by a run or two that sapped my confidence a bit. This week I ran on my normal rest day (more of why on this blog in a few weeks time) and so I went into the weekend a little fatigued. I was still able to run a decent almost 18 minutes flat at Parkrun, and then back it up with 8 miles afterwards, but on that second run I was feeling very leggy.
Two things have inspired me to write today’s blog. The first of those is a two, and it comes from reading ‘Two Hours’ by Ed Caesar. When considering those engaged in the pursuit of ever faster marathon times, Ed looks not just at never-before accomplished feats like the two hour marathon, but also the attempt to be the first to successfully summit Everest – the ‘great white fang, excrescent from the jaw of the world’ as Mallory described it.
In chapter two Ed describes the attitude that those athletes and explorers looking to break new ground require:
“To reach the summit, the pioneer knows that he must endure more, live braver, plan better than his forebears – and that all these qualities will likely be insufficient.”