The Return of an Old Friend

Marathon training began in earnest this week as I get my body ready for the London Marathon on 22nd April. This is nothing new. I am training for my 11th Marathon, 7th in London but this time it’s different, I’m aiming to go faster than ever before.

My personal best is the 3hrs 19mins I achieved in 1999 at the Edinburgh Marathon. That race is completely different from the current version, the route went across the Forth Road Bridge and finished at Meadowbank Stadium. It was also held in August, meaning that I spent the best part of my training on rather hot summer days (remember them?) and came on the back of running in London in April. The best I’ve done since then is 3hrs 23mins in one of the London runs. My body has got in the habit of starting marathon training straight after New Year and somehow feels easier to start then than at any other time of the year.

This time it’s different. My target is to beat 3hrs 15mins to claim a ‘Good for Age’ place for London in the future and avoid going through the lottery that is the ballot. I believed this was possible before I started training however, my first week’s training has opened my eyes to something much greater – running a 3hr marathon. I ran 4 miles the other day at a rather comfortable pace and my trusted Garmin told me afterwards that me average pace was around 7min/mile. This means that if I can run the marathon at that pace, I am looking at much closer to 3hrs for the race than 3:15.

I have only dreamed of this in the past and now it’s time to make it a reality. Of course, it’s not going to be easy to achieve this but it’s something that’s got me excited and has literally re-shaped my training plan. Rather than churning out distances, I am listening to my body, focussing on time spent running and lots of speedwork.

This morning saw the return of an old friend – the Sunday morning long run, the type of run and it’s consistency can be the make or break in marathon training. I set off with the intention of doing around 10k but as soon as my brain tuned into the possibilities of running a 3hr marathon, my body decided it wanted to do some pace training instead so I set upon doing some Threshold Pace training to help my body get used to running at a faster pace. I learned these drills after attending a couple of running workshops by double Olympian Liz Yelling and her husband Martin. This type of training has made the biggest difference to my running over the last couple of years and will now be a mainstay of my training for London. The great thing about it is that it takes away the boredom that can come with the long run and because it is a form of interval training, I ended up running further than I intended to round up the number of drills I was doing. I ended up to run 8 miles instead of the planned 6 and felt much better for it.

They key to improving performance is to not only challenge your body but also to challenge the mind as to what is possible for it to achieve. What the mind can believe, the body can achieve

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