I’ve been taking an entirely different approach to my training for the Paris Marathon in April, leaving no stone unturned as I seek to run my fastest ever marathon. My goal is to be able to run sub 3:15 so I can claim a Good For Age place in London in 2017.

In the past I’ve typically started my marathon training at the beginning of each year and hoped for the best on race day but this time it’s different. I’ve ripped up the kind of plan I’ve followed since my first marathon in 1998 and gone for a whole new approach. I began my training in October with the purpose of creating and developing my best form. Earlier in the year, while on a course with my work, I discovered an exercise drill that I found helped me run faster without using any more effort and so it’s with this that I’ve laid the foundations of my plan and building upon. Combining improved mobility and dynamic strength as well as running, I’m building what feels to be the perfect plan for me.

With minimal training, I’ve already smashed my 5k PB using Parkrun as the perfect place to try what I have been practicing. In addition to that, I’ve been trying to maintain my form over longer distances and feel like I’m achieving it over 10k. I put everything to the test at the weekend there with 3 runs. I decided to do Parkrun on Saturday morning followed by the Perth Santa Run at midday and a 5k Trail Race on Sunday. A Santa Run seems to be an odd place to try to race, and I was probably taking it way too seriously but this was more to test my form under fatigue.

My original plan was to take Parkrun easy until we started and race mode kicked in! I did keep a more steady pace and finished in 20:22, around a minute outside my PB, but was still a bit more effort than I had planned. I did a mile jog afterwards to keep my legs ticking over before the Santa Run. The turnout at the Santa Run was pretty good and great to see so many adults bringing their kids along and creating a wonderful festive family atmosphere. I was only focused on my form and by the 1k mark, I had squeezed myself into 4th place. I felt obliged to take part as I won the 2014 run! The route took us through the centre of the city with a nice run down the High Street with good numbers out cheering us all on. By the time we crossed the Queens Bridge over the Tay, which just a week ago had been closed due to high water and anticipated flooding, I was in 4th place and as we crossed Smeaton’s Bridge across the river again I had moved up into second place.

A sea of Santas before the start
A see of Santas before the start

I kept within close distance of the leader and as we came into the last km, I was level with him and managed a wee chat with him as we knew each other (usually without Santa suits!). As we came into the last 200m, I found the pace catching up on me and I slowed down a little and crossed the line in second place. I enjoyed a nice mincemeat pie and a bottle of water and stayed to cheer more people across the line. What was interesting though was that I didn’t feel like I had run Parkrun too hard, I felt that my lack of actual running training (I hadn’t run all week) to become tired. I had run each mile in the Santa Run slightly quicker than Parkrun before it. I was happy though as I had managed to maintain my form.

An evening of relaxation, an Epsom Salt bath to ease my legs and I was up again for a run on Sunday. I decided to scrap my plan to do the Trail Race and go for a 10k run instead. It was a little frosty outside as I headed off but with some trusted thermal and Climaheat gear on, I was prepared for the conditions. This run was purely focusing on being able to maintain the form I have been working on and to see if I could hold it for the entire run after the exertions of the day before. I was pleasantly surprised that after an initial slow mile, my body felt strong and as each mile passed, I felt I was getting stronger and stronger. What I also noticed was that as the run went on, I had gone from trying to lift my knees more to pulling myself forward rather than pushing off my toes and leaning forwards as well. This resulted in each mile being quicker than the one before. Probably the slowest mile was mile 6 but this was more due to the road being slippy underfoot than tiredness.

It wasn’t my fastest 10k but afterwards I felt like I had smashed my PB! I was delighted that everything had gone according to plan, even though I’ve not been running as much as I should have been over the last 2-3 weeks but for me, this is a huge step in the right direction. Time and pace isn’t important to me as I know that will come but my performance was and I had come up trumps.

I’ve nothing else now until the rest of the year and so I will continue to work on my movement so I can run even better than I did at the weekend with greater ease.

How’s your training going? What races have you got lined up?


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