Tuesday, 11 September 2012

1. Back to School!

The holidays are over and they have left me happier, tanner, but also less fit than they found me... What little swimming and much less running I did was no match for all the eating, drinking and general lazing about, so September’s first 'exploratory' run last week hurt more than it would have in July... nothing surprising there, but now holidays are over I better come up with a plan to get fit again!

Having enjoyed the travel experience to Athens and the Lakes, I’ve decided to aim for one marathon ‘in an interesting place’ each year and make a bit of a holiday of it with my girlfriend (after all, she deserves a reward for tolerating all my disappearing after long days at work to run up hills or hide in the gym!)

For 2013 especially we thought we’d try Rome – a city on our ‘to go’ list anyway and within easy reach for us in the UK and my sister and her boyfriend in Athens – so with any luck and barring accidents he intends to run it as well!

With the decision of the location made, it’s time for the boring stuff I’m afraid… goals and plans! I ran my first marathon last year in 3:51 and as the second one was on a hilly trail, this (3:51) is my current PB. I have done a lot of running since though and - considering I have just over 5 months to prepare - I believe I can set myself a goal of 3:30. This will not be set down in stone at this point you understand, just something to base my training around. As the plan progresses I can always go back and revise this if necessary.

Now I have a goal, for a plan: There is a multitude of marathon training plans out there, as well as web-based applications that create a customised plan for you and track your progress as you follow it. Adidas' Micoach is my favourite: I used it to train for Athens and I was very pleased with the results. Having said that, as I have been training for longer, slower races recently (my last training plan was for a the hilly marathon in July), I feel there is a misalignment in my training in that I have neglected speed over the 5 - 15 km range for the sake of endurance over longer distances. While I'm no professional trainer, I know enough to know that that's not good and will work against me in the long run, so I intend to use the time I have to do something about it: What I propose is to concentrate on my 10k speed for the first three months of my training (till just before Xmas) and then work on increasing the distances of my long runs in preparation for the event itself.

That's easy then, I'll start with a programme that will get me to finish 10k in 40' (my current PB being 46') by December, based on 3 runs a week plus strength training and cross training (thus bringing my swimming in my plan rather than give it up to make room for more runs). If I'm honest, the 40' target is a bit of a guesstimate... On the face of it, it certainly looks challenging enough and a race pace calculator will tell you that it is the equivalent of a marathon time well under 3:30. Is it too challenging? Perhaps, but again, it will at least give me the chance to see what I can achieve by December and amend my marathon plans accordingly.

So there we go! Let week 1 of the run to Rome commence and I will come back with an update early next week!

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