This week I hit the 50 day mark of my training plan for the Istanbul Marathon in October, which gives me a good opportunity to reflect on how things have gone up until this point.
This is the fourth time I’m in training for a marathon so it’s only right that I use previous efforts to compare. Training has always been very up and down in the past. I trained at a relatively easy effort for my first marathon (London ’18), running low weekly mileage and avoiding any serious injury, but running an unsurprisingly slower time compared to my next two attempts.
During my next and current PB effort (Budapest ’18), I ramped up training significantly which, again unsurprisingly, saw neaarly 30 minutes shaved off my previous best. I did little strength work, focussing on running, and introduced a lot of workout variation, with different interval workouts helping me to improve as a runner. Towards the end of the training, though, I suffered some left knee pain which forced me to take a longer taper period than I would have liked. Luckily, I was able to recover enough to run well in Budapest and achieve my goal of sub-3:30. But I came away wondering if adding strength work into my training would have helped me to avoid the late knee niggles.
For London ’19, my third attempt, I once again ramped up training to the point where I was running a weekly mileage significantly higher than I had previously. I also made sure I worked on strengthening the legs more. I felt confident that I could find the right balance in my training and had aspirations of a decent PB attempt around the streets of London. Alas, life was to throw quite a spanner in the works in a number of ways. I bought my first house and moved in early April, not long before the race and I’d been promoted in early 2019 at work, piling on a fair amount more to do. This caused a lot of impact on my training schedule and I found that I was missing a lot of key workouts and just not getting the miles in to really give the race 100%. When crunch time came, I decided to take my foot off the gas a little and run for fun rather than a PB, and ran the race with my good friend and fellow running enthusiast, Matt. It turned out to be probably my favourite marathon to date, though, as we ran together for the entire distance, crossing the line together in a not too shabby 3:40, and it was the first marathon that I avoided hitting ‘The Wall’.
And so now to the present. 50 days in, I do feel that I am training more successfully and consistently than I ever have before. I’ve had really solid, steadily increasing weekly mileage and I feel really dialled in to my pacing zones for the various different workouts in the schedule. I’ve learned how to run and embrace hill workouts. I’ve achieved significantly improved PBs in 5k, 10k and Half Marathon distance and I almost already feel good to go for Istanbul. Silly, I know, considering I’m not even at the halfway mark and there’s still a long way to go, but it is testament to how well training is going so far. I’m not naive enough to think that Istanbul is a done deal – far from it – but if I can remain sensible and determined, I’m starting to think I can do it when November arrives.
The question is… How fast?