11 Weeks to NYM. Back to racing.

I don’t think there’s a ‘best’ marathon training plan.  There’s certainly a *lot* of marathon training plans.  Most of them don’t recommend running the marathon distance in training.  Seems a bit odd, doesn’t it?  Training for a 5k involves running 6, 7, more, to get some endurance.  So why not run 27, 28, 29 miles in training to get the endurance sorted for the marathon?

The marathon is really tough.  I discovered after the Manchester event in April that it takes weeks to recover from running 26.2 miles.  I went back to running after a few days, did a 5k race after 3 days, even.  But my recovery from every run I did was really delayed.  I had ongoing pains, tight flexors, tight hamstrings, tight adductors, sore VMOs, the lot.  An experienced marathon runner I know (he ran Barcelona in 2:48 the other month) reckons it takes him 2 months to get back to full fitness after a marathon.  I think he’s right.  So running the full distance in training?  I can see why we pass on that.

The next quandary is whether to carry on racing during marathon training.  Most people advocate a half marathon about a month to 6 weeks before the marathon – recovery from a half is a few days, not a few weeks!  4 weeks before Manchester I did the Inverness Half – that’s a great event.  It’s the Scottish Half Marathon championships, and draws a real quality field.  We send so many people from the running club in Dundee that we hire a coach!  I had a good race, 1:23:02 for a PB (Although I’d only done one HM before, in Glasgow in 2016: 1:24:30).  4 weeks before New York I’ve entered Aviemore Half – it’s a more low key event, and usefully the second half is all downhill!

A less certain question is how many other races one should do in the run up to a marathon.  Perhaps there’s some sense in just sticking to a training program that doesn’t put excessive stress on the body, keeping the efforts short in training, the longer runs easy, the intervals hard, but avoid those full-on efforts that come with racing.

That sounds a bit dull.  Racing is fun.  The club grand prix races, the local events, the midweek series, the weekend trips.

This week there were two races: Ceres 8 miler, and the Forfar 10k, the latter being the club 10k championships.

8 miles is a weird distance.  12.8km.  Set off at 10k pace and hold on?  Set off at 10 mile pace and speed up in the second half?  Fortunately for me one of my regular training routes is 12.7km long, so I have a feel for the distance.

The course starts with about a 750m steep climb before turning into the wind, and then it’s either up or down for the next 11km.  Some really steep parts, some dodgy road quality (normal for Scotland) and a fantastic last 2 miles all downhill.  53:16, 36th overall, 15th Male Vet.  Happy to be back racing!

Forfar 10k.  Club 10k championships.  A chance to make up for a disappointing showing at Monifieth 10k earlier in the year where I missed out on the club silver standard by 16 seconds.  I’d never done the course before, and those that had told me that the course is “definitely not a PB course”.   This makes it tricky to judge a pace on the start line – aim for the PB that the course “doesn’t offer”, or keep the powder dry and see how it goes?

One of the best things about being in a running club is having someone else in the same vest to run with.  I set off with guys I know I should keep up with, and we put our trust in each other.  The three of us stuck together and finished within 4 places, and 6 seconds.  Job done!  My chip time of 39:13 is a personal best in a 10k race – my Garmin times me as completing 10k in 38:58, as it thinks the distance was slightly over 10.1k.  I’ll take either of those times, thank you!  And they’re certainly well inside the 40:00 silver standard.

Next week I have two more races, again!  Auchterhouse Hill Race on Thursday, and Perth 10k on Sunday.  I’m not sure about the hill race – not my natural environment, I have to say.  Perth 10k is very flat, though.

50k running this week, nothing on the bike, 2 races, a PB, and a 4th silver standard of the year. Early night tonight, I think.