During the last few weeks of my training for the North Downs Way 50, I had started to think that I wanted to train for a marathon in the Autumn. The last few years after doing a spring/early summer ultra, I have taken long extended breaks from running, focusing more on strength training. I haven’t completed a marathon since May 2015, though have done many marathon, or further length training runs during ultra training.
When I look back at the marathons I have completed, a lot of them involved very little training compared to what I have been doing of late, and several of them featured pretty bad injuries- I ran Manchester marathon having missed most of my training, and Berlin having only been able to run for 2-3 weeks before the race due to ITB issues. So while I’ve done several marathons, I never felt like I’ve had a really great training period or race.
My PB currently stands at 4.15, which was set at the Thames Meander marathon in March 2015, that was probably the best training I have had leading into a race, but still it wasn’t that high mileage, and I actually didn’t feel great for the first half of the race either.
My long term goal is to run a London good for age time, which is under 3.45 for me currently, but to get that, means I need to actually train for and run a marathon! I want to start with little steps, so my first goal is to get under 4 hours. I think I am capable of this, I’ve run several half’s under 2.00 hours, with my PB standing around 1.54- I nearly broke this earlier in the year at Richmond half, having run a 22 mile training run the day before- so again I think this could be improved on, with some focused training, but I haven’t trained for a half in years either.
I’ve decided this autumn, I am going to have a crack at the sub-4. I am going to be following the Hanson’s marathon method plan as an experiment- this involves reasonably high mileage, but spread throughout the week across 6 runs, with shorter long runs on the weekend (maxing out at 16 miles), and more emphasis on quality sessions like speed and tempo throughout the week, along with some easy runs to keep the mileage high and simulate running on fatigued legs. The plan has a beginner and an advanced plan, and though I wouldn’t consider myself a beginner marathoner, I didn’t want to jump straight back into 40-50 mile weeks after the ultra, and I preferred the gradual building of mileage in the early weeks in the beginner plan. The marathon I have signed up for in Richmond only gave me 16 weeks to train for from the start of my training, so I would have missed the first two weeks of the advanced Hanson plan, and I thought the beginner plan looked more doable with this time frame, considering I am coming off ultra training. I have had a few weeks off running completely, but I am not necessarily starting from nothing, so I have eased back in with the beginner plan for a couple of weeks to get some mileage into the legs, and this week I started week 6 of the beginner plan which is where the real sessions start- the first speed workout was bloody hard.
So I have another 12ish weeks from now to get marathon ready, I am actually looking forward to following a structured plan, and doing some sessions as it’s not something I’ve ever really done in training before. My only issue is that I’m not sure where strength training fits in with Hanson’s, I would like to continue my three weekly sessions alongside the plan, but if this is affecting my running and ability to hit target paces and sessions then I will have to reassess.
I know setting a time goal can be quite arbitrary, like what difference does it matter if I run sub-4, but for me it’s more of a stepping stone on the way to a bigger goal, and actually setting a goal, and seeing how close to that I can get. I’m interested to try a different approach and see how that works out for me too.