Usually a marathon spells the end of a training cycle but seldom has it started a new one! I normally look forward to a few weeks rest and ease back in to training gently after a marathon but such has been the effect from this year’s Loch Ness Marathon that I took a couple of weeks rest and got back into training again with Parkrun last week.
I got a buzz out of my performance at Loch Ness and the desire is there now to replicate my strategy of feeling comfortable all the way round and feeling like I can speed up at any time that I’ve got back into training again and using the marathon as a springboard and the perfect platform for me to build on. I’ve got back into Parkrun again and also added the Lochore 10k as part of my bigger plan to be able to maintain my strategy but develop the pace so I can do it again in future races but at a quicker pace.
After doing an Autumn marathon, it’s easy to kick back and enjoy the rest before starting training again for a Spring Marathon but you can lose the impetus from a good race and have to start training again from scratch. I did spend 2 weeks resting and have been working a lot on my form since starting again with a few runs so I’ve still been getting good rest and not trying to overdo it.
The 10k was interesting as it’s been a while since I last raced that distance so it took me a bit to settle into a rhythm where my body figured out how it wanted to run. The first mile was slow as I had started at the back but this wasn’t a bad thing as it made sure I didn’t go off too fast and while the second mile was quicker, I found my rhythm and felt like I was cruising round as I knew I would still have another lap of the course to go and wanted to be able to run faster at some point in the second lap.
I have been working a lot on my knee drive this week, every time I’ve had the chance, adding a bit of balance and stability with it and also using the fantastic Core Momentum Trainer to help drive more movement. I’ve felt the difference using that and my form seemed easier today than it has been for a while. The biggest sign that it’s working came from another runner who thought that I looked as if I was racing 5k when I passed him and his friend in the first half while for me, I felt like I was gliding and able to speed up at any time.
The finishing time is not always the greatest marker of performance and while my time today, 42:13 (unofficial), was good, I have run quicker. The most meaningful thing to me was discovering a strength I haven’t been aware of having for quite a few years. I discovered it between 4 and 5 miles when I became aware of a guy on my shoulder. I like to think that if people are going to pass me late on in a race that I’ve made them work hard to do it but that’s not happened for a while. We ran for a bit with him just behind me and as we approached a turn, I picked the pace up a bit. I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to keep it up for so just went with it. I soon discovered that I had a choice of trying to stay ahead of the guy behind me or try to catch the person in front so I decided to go for the latter. We were roughly at 5.5 miles and I wasn’t far behind the girl in front of me so I picked the pace up again and went past her. I knew that the guy behind me was going to run out of time to pass me and I also knew that by going past the girl in front of me, it would be too soon for her to start speeding up as we still had around half a mile to go. I still felt I had a little bit left in the tank anyway so while I picked the pace up at 5.5 miles, I picked it up again at 6 miles as soon as I saw the finish line.
There’s something strangely satisfying about crossing the finish line knowing that you’ve given your all and you can’t run another step. Again, something I haven’t been aware of doing in a long time. What felt even sweeter was checking back my splits and not only was mile 6 my fastest mile in the race, I completed a negative split of running the second half faster than the first. Again, something I haven’t done in a long time.
I’m delighted with everything that happened yesterday, it’s a clear sign that everything I’m doing is working and it’s another step forwards in my plans for Paris in April. The most pleasing thing is it feels like it’s happening naturally and that working on the efficiency of my form is having greater effect than going out to try sprints or hill reps, which is something I’ve relied a lot on in the past.
For the first time in years, I’m looking forward to my training this week even more and I know that it’s the little things I do everyday that are making the difference as much as the run sessions.
How’s your training going? What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your training?