Marathon plans for 2017

As my IOMS (Instant Onset Muscle Soreness) abate I’m planning out the year’s racing ahead. A few (such as Mount Etna, the Thunder Run and Frankfurt) are already definites, but what about the rest of the year? This is what I’m thinking…

Mount Etna marathon 11th June
Thunder Run 24hr race 23rd July
Glasgow half marathon 2nd October 
Frankfurt marathon 30th October
Malaga marathon 4th December
Seville marathon 19th February 2017
Alloa half marathon, 19th March 2017
London marathon 23rd April 2017
Stirling marathon 21st May 2017

I’m sure Axel Finke is game for most of these. Any other suggestions, alternatives or takers?

2:40 Mulligan (Edinburgh Marathon 2016)

It’s that time again…. avert your eyes if you’re allergic to running and graphs!

This weekend I’ll be in Edinburgh for my 2:40 mulligan after my 2:42 in London. This time the training has been limited by, well, time! Seeing as Edinburgh is just 5 weeks after London there was only time for a medium week that led into a big one of 120 miles. I bookended that big week with some racing. A 10k PB of 34:51 in a sweltering heat and a 5k PB of 17:00 on semi-knackered legs have certainly given me some confidence in my speed!

Attached is the updated picture of my training. I now have an outpost in what was the barren wasteland further out than 4:30 min kms. That nice little lump up near 2:40 race pace is due to the London attempt itself and the shorter races I followed it up with.

Even the rather detailed snapshot of 8 weeks of training doesn’t tell the whole story as, of course, one block is built on top of all that precede it. So to finish my geeking-out for today I’ve plotted my entire training distribution over an 11 month period, with each month coloured in differently.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in Edinburgh, which is looking a little warm (15-17 degrees) and a bit windy (10mph), but thankfully the wind will carry me home on the last 10k – there’s just the little matter of completing ‘operation human-shield’ on the opening 30k!

Post-race edit: So… 2:44:26… ho hum. That’s the end of my 7 marathon PB streak! Was never on for 2:40, the expected headwind on the first half meant halfway in just under 1:21 but with a tailwind on the last 10k a slight PB looked possible. By 32k that was slipping, not being able to speed up but just hold pace. A high 2:42 looked like the best I could painfully squeeze out. I tried not to become demotivated but it had set in and the result was a rather pedestrian last 7k or so to tick off another sub 2:45. It’s been ‘fun’ but the streak had to end somewhere! Enjoyed the post race beers and junk food and happy with my ever-improving batting average! And a huge congrats to Stacy Wheat for bagging her London qualifying time and a PB to boot!

Training and racing

Training and racing… after a week to digest the result from London I can say that the “train easy race hard” approach still works even when taken to the extreme. Doing all my training miles near or around 5 mins/km and racing at 3:50 min/km was a success. The attached plot shows the distributions of my 9 weeks of training pace and my pace in the London marathon (race shown in red). There is a little overlap caused by two 5k race-pace tests I did in the week leading up to the race and a few fast kilometres from a relay race I did 5 weeks before London but that’s it. It’s really quite an incredible result to see that applying the stress of the ‘blue’ training load to the system can give a performance in a marathon of the ‘red’ distribution – one which you would think is way outside what your body has been exposed to and therefore not capable!

So what now, how am I going to claw my to under 2:40 and even to 2:35? Although the approach of metronomic miles at easy pace does work, there is certainly plenty evidence that having a larger range of pace-work would give an improvement. So, I will take an approach with the same flavour as my pre-London training but with some modifications. I will add a few more races and race-pace practice to add a little bump (emphasis on the little) to give a larger range of stress to my system and spread the speed out more to the lower pace range to compensate for the stress of higher speeds. Watch this space!