Ringing the changes

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and expecting different results and it’s probably a good thing to keep in mind when planning your training for a race. I’m marathon PB chasing again with Milton Keynes marathon on 2nd May 8 weeks away now and a pretty aggressive time goal in mind. Currently my PB is 3 hours 26 minutes which I set at the 2014 Yorkshire marathon. I was on track to beat it last year again at the Yorkshire marathon but the fact that I’d spent the year triathlon training became very apparent at 20 miles as I hit the wall pretty hard.

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But I know I’m capable of faster if I can get a solid block of training in and stay healthy. However there is no point just blindly following the same plan as for the other marathons I’ve done and expecting to be somehow in better shape. Training has to be an evolution where you learn race by race what works for you and what doesn’t, but also what you can learn from how others approach their training. Make a small change each time and review the impact it has, what is the result in the race and how do you feel.

What I learned from the Yorkshire marathon last is 2 things; first that you have to start from a solid base of training and 6 months of running 3-4 times a week and nothing over 20km isn’t going to cut it (I love Martin Yelling’s metaphor of a wobbly trifle for this), the second thing I learned is that I need to do more strength work. In those final miles of a marathon having a strong core and hips/glutes etc will make a real difference as you try to keep pushing.

I think I have the solid base covered this time having trained for and completed the Quadzilla but I am being a little careful about building my mileage back up again too quickly. Running those 4 marathons put a lot of strain on my feet and ankles and I really don’t want to get any longer term issues.

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Nothing beats an early morning long run with a view

However I have made a real effort to get strength training into my week, for me this mainly takes the form of a session every week at home doing bodyweight exercises. I particularly like this short combo from Kinetic Revolution and normally add some heel raises for ankle strength and some push ups for upper body strength. Then what I’ve also kept in is a weekly swim, from an injury/niggle perspective I saw real benefits from cross training last year for my triathlon so trying to keep it going. It also keeps some swim fitness for the half ironman I’m doing in July.

Beyond that I have a quality speed session each week and then the usual easy runs and a longer weekend run. But I don’t plan to run beyond 30km in my long runs and will likely only do that 2-3 times. Personally I don’t find benefit from going longer and putting the additional strain on my body.

I’m in week 2 and so far it’s going well and actually feeling really good just to be back running with a set goal again. The only challenge is my wife is training for Milton Keynes half marathon which happens the same day as my race so we’re doing a bit of juggling to both get our runs in. It also makes for interesting Sunday’s if we both do long runs!

If you’re spring marathon training how’s it going and what tweaks have you made to your plans?

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