So after years of debating, I have finally decided to bite the bullet and run a marathon. It is something that I have always wanted to do, but have made excuses year after year about why the time has not been right, but not this year, I have decided that it is now or never, it wont get any easier with each year older I get. I have entered the Paris Marathon in April 2015.
Many people believe that training for a marathon completely takes over your whole life and doesn’t allow you the time to do anything else except run, run and run some more. My aim is to prove this is not true; I aim to train thoroughly for this marathon but whilst still doing the other things I enjoy doing.
Before training for the marathon I would go to the gym five times a week and play football twice a week. Clearly this doesn’t leave me much time to run outside of my 9-5 job. Therefore my first decision was to decide what I had to cut back on with the two main options being my two greatest hobbies, playing football and working out. I decided to cut my trips to the gym back to three times a week, but whilst compressing my workout plan so that I did not neglect any areas of my body.
This means that I can keep my football up which was a big plus for me, not only do I love it but it also provides me with cardio exercise which is different to long distance running. Believe it or not, exercise which isn’t just long distance running is vital in training for the marathon.
I consider myself to be a fit guy, as I am fairly active and as mentioned play football and go to the gym regularly. However, I have always struggled with running, this is going to be extremely tough.
Throughout this blog I will detail my training plans, how it is taking its toll on my body and the rest of my life. I will also give you any tips which I have experienced first hand are important.
Month One – Five months until the marathon
I decided that I would give myself plenty of training time before the marathon. Most programmes you can find on the internet suggest around a 16-20 week plan, however, these plans involve running four to five times a week which I can’t commit to doing. Therefore I thought it would make sense to give myself extra time. I believe that for me, training for the marathon won’t be running as often as possible, but making sure I run the right distances and get the miles in my legs, hopefully I will be proved right!
Throughout the month I completed 8 runs, two a week, tending to vary between a quick paced shorter run and a steady long run. The shorter runs were usually 5-6km in the week after work when I could find the time and the longer run would be on Sundays when I found I have the most time to run.
I have set myself the target of running the marathon in less than four hours, which I believe to be an extremely good time and I have been surprised by the natural pace at which I can run. My longest run was 11.2km and I completed this in an hour and two minutes which is quicker than a 4 hour marathon which I was delighted with. I believe I am able to run at this pace because I incorporate shorter runs, football and high intentisty gym work in to my schedule, it keeps my body on its toes and will ensure that I keep up a different level of fitness which will benefit my long distance running.
I have found that my meal sizes have increased, but I have ensured that I have continued to eat the right things, mainly plenty of protein and green vegetables. This has meant that I recover from my runs efficiently so that I can continue to play football and go to the gym, if I do not take on the right nutrients then my energy levels will drop and this will affect my training schedule, not to mention the quality of my work at my job.
Over the next month I want to continue with the same method and run around 15-16km as my longest run. I will of course be taking a few days off exercise over the Christmas period, but I hope this won’t slow me down too much!!
Month Two and Three – Two months until the marathon
I haven’t updated this blog for two months, and there is one reason for that. I was struck down with the flu midway through December which stopped me doing any sort of exercise for three weeks. I didn’t think you would be too interested in hearing about the many box sets and films I got through in this time!!
The positives are that the flu wasn’t caused from training, I caught it from a colleague at work (haven’t forgiven him) and it hasn’t affected my pace or distances since I have begun training again.
January was a very productive month for me training wise, I have managed to up my effort in the gym, keep up with my football and increase my distance and pace with marathon training, I couldn’t really ask for any more.
In total, I ran 68.8km throughout the month, over eight runs. This included a 16km run and a half marathon. I completed the half marathon in 1 hour 48 minutes, which I was very happy with for a first effort.
The main obstacle I have come up against is the bitter cold, I have been running at freezing temperatures at times and I find that I am running faster than I should in order to get out of the cold!! In order to combat this I have tried to do my shorter and quicker runs in the week at night when it is cold, saving my longer runs for the weekend when it is slightly warmer.
I have upped my carb intake, as at times I have felt myself struggling with tiredness, this is to be expected however. In my opinion, you burn enough calories when you are running to not worry too much about the amount of carbs you take on.
The next six weeks are crucial, I plan to run 3 more half marathon plus distances before the big day, this should ensure I complete the marathon in my target of under four hours. I will be keeping to the same strategy, and hopefully it continues to be a success as I am currently feeling as fit and healthy as I ever have. See you in a month!!