Sub 3, January

I might as well stick all my boring running posts into dedicated blogs. These are only of interest to me, and will be a good record of my attempt.

My New Years’ Resolution is to run a marathon in under 3 hours.

I started off from two months of no running, resting a foot injury. I saw the physio on the 13th of December, he said it was a trapped/ injured nerve in my left knee (probably from slamming into that van sideways on my motorbike, 2 years ago). He gave me some stretches to free it up and told me to crack on.

I was highly sceptical, after 2 years of done-in foot and intermittent training, that a stretch was going to sort it, but what do I know? It seemed to free it right up. The top of my foot still gets sore, but I’ve got full mobility.

2 days after seeing the physio I was back running. And my foot held up. I spent two weeks gradually building a base then thought “what the hell?” and started on the Advanced Marathoning training plan.

It turns out, as usual I was being ridiculously optimistic in my self belief. I unquestioningly thought I’d pick up at the peak of where I left off, being able to run a 3.30 marathon. Ha!

So no.

I’d built up to 8 mile, zone 2 (very slow) runs before I started the plan. My first “general aerobic” (pushing a little bit, but slower than other runs) which I arbitrarily set at 8.30 m/m, was 4 days into the first week. It was a 9 mile run. It nearly killed me. That pace, for those miles, took everything I had.

The medium long run at the end of the first week was 12 miles at target marathon pace plus 10 – 20%. For a sub 3 (6.50 m/m) that is 7.31 – 8.12. I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to do the distance, that was upping my miles from the previous week by 50%. And a lot faster. I just couldn’t hold it at the end, it was too far and too fast, too soon, but I averaged at 8.15 m/m. It was a start and I was close enough to work in the parameters of the plan and wait for my fitness to catch up. 4 days later I accidentally ran 10 miles at 7.53m/m. Caught up. Game on. I think that was part of the problem for my medium long run a few days later. I’d run the 10 miles general aerobic thinking it was target pace+, so had nothing left for the longer run. I wanted sub 8 but did 13.1 miles at 8.07m/m. Not what I wanted but within the 8.12 outer limit.

I was getting discouraged as all my runs were flat out and killing me and I wasn’t anywhere near the 6.50 m/m mark. Then I realised the plan is to get you there. If you could already run sub 3 you wouldn’t need the plan.

I’ve had a spell of weakness this week. I felt lousy with it yesterday, I just slept and lay on the sofa. It was supposed to be a 4 mile recovery run but I didn’t do it. That’s the first day I’ve missed. I’ve been getting up 3 hours before work to do my 10 mile midweek runs, but yesterday, on my day off, I just couldn’t.

I woke up today for my medium long run. I still felt weak, but I thought I’d give it a go. Better to shuffle around and put some miles under my belt than miss it altogether. I had no idea how it would go. I was worried I’d shuffle one mile, have nothing left, and come back.

I did 14 miles and held 7.59 m/m. Getting there! Three weeks into the plan and I’m sub 8. And the best thing was, unlike my first week, I wasn’t thinking “hang in for x more miles” as my pace dropped off. It was hard but it didn’t get any harder. I was just focusing on holding my pace. I kept it steady the whole run and didn’t think about the extra mile or how many miles were left. I think the plan is working.

And I’ve lost 6lb. I’m tracking my calories now. Another stone to go.

31st of January. End of week 4 of the plan.

It is definitely working.

Yesterday the plan was 4 miles recovery, which I’ve set at 8.30 m/m, and I was having to fight to slow down. I kept going too fast when I took my eye off my watch. It was only a 4 mile run, but that is brilliant progress from where I was when I started the plan.

Today the plan called for a fast 15 mile (mara pace + 10 – 20%). The last couple of weeks I’ve been stressing because +10 is 7.31 and I’m was struggling to stay inside the +20 (8.12). We are in the middle of storm Corrie, so it was blowing up something fierce. Because I’ve been worried about being so far off the pace I was resolved to try and knock 5 seconds per mile off my long runs each week. This is slightly more challenging as the long runs are longer every week. After yesterday’s huge improvement I decided to go for 10 seconds per week. It was actually 7.59 last week but I was rounding it up to a target of 7.50. The wind was how I like it (if I have to suffer it at all) in that it was directly in my face on the way out, so at my back on the way back when I’m worn out. I slowed before the turning around, wind, slutch (and my lingering suspicion that my Garmin tracks slower off tarmac), but then fought back really hard, putting in two miles in the 7.30s and two in the 7.40s to drag my time back to 7.50 average. The plan only calls for 7.31 as maximum pace for my long runs. Suddenly this is looking do-able.

In short; in my first month of the plan I’ve lost 8lb, 2″ off my waist, have increased my long run from 12 miles (fading and dying at the end) to 15 miles (pushing a lot harder at the end) and I’ve knocked 25 seconds per mile off my time, on a really blowy day.