For sometime now I have fostered the idea that I am more than capable of running a sub 3h:15m marathon. I have attempted to do this a couple of times before however, through self sabotage and poor training practices I’ve always fallen considerably short of the mark. When I ran Chester Marathon I under-recovered and trained poorly. Spending too much time in the ‘grey zone’…you know, the part where your easy runs are too hard and your hard runs are too easy. The result was I plateaued in my training and even ‘bonked’ after 6 miles of the marathon. The next attempt was at London…this was the one where I foolishly agreed to run for charity wearing nothing but a pair of bright red budgie smugglers. I was in reasonable marathon shape, probably not sub 3h:15m but certainly good enough to go sub 3h:25m however, the sun block I applied on the day stopped me sweating when I ran. This resulted in heat exhaustion caused by my core temperature rising during the marathon. Another failure to each my full potential.
This year I was lucky enough to get through London Marathon ballot system so thought “lets have another go at running a sub 3h:15m marathon.”. “What is so different this year compared to previous attempts?” I hear you ask, “Your last marathon was 3h:46m, how can you manage to shave off 31 minutes?” you say. Well let me answer these (and more) questions.
In the build up to London Marathon 2015 I am fortunate enough to be working locally and have a shift pattern that suites my running and lifestyle demands. You see I live near York and work in York. My commute is 9 miles door-to-door and, the route passes my gym. The shift patterns at work mean that 4 out of my 5 days at work I get to start at 10AM. This gives me ample opportunity to fit in a run or gym session before I start work. Furthermore, there are a couple of fellow runners in the office I work and we often head out for a relaxed 4 or 5 miles during lunch a couple of times a week. This means I can easily manage 6 or 7 runs during the working week without impacting on my home life at all….a HUGE bonus.
In relation to my marathon PB (3h:46m)…this was done off limited training last year. For those that don’t know I broke two ribs in a equine related incident in the build up to the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon. The resulting injury meant I missed around 6 weeks of my marathon training and went into the marathon with my long run being no more than the 14 milers over a 12 week period. Consequently I decided to jog the marathon for fun, treating it like a long, social, training run.
So why do I believe I can run a sub 3h:15m at London 2015? Currently I would say that if I were to run a marathon today I would probably manage to finish in around 3h:30m, give or take a minute or two. This equates to 08:00/mi per mile. My current weight is a little on the chubby side, 182 pounds with the Christmas blowout…! My ideal weight for sport is around 154 pounds, this is what I weighed when I played soccer in my mid twenties. So currently I am around 28 pounds away from my ideal weight for running/sport. Now anyone who knows anything about endurance sports performance will know that weight is a critical factor when determining just how fast you can go for a given distance. The average running weight calculator suggests that each extra pound of unwanted weight adds 2 seconds per mile to your time. So…the maths would suggest that if I train well, reduce my weight to my ideal sports performance weight (154 pounds) and drop the 28 pounds I should be able to run around 56 seconds faster per mile for the same effort. Multiply this number by 26 and you can see that if all things are equal (i.e. the aerobic engine and strength stay the same) I should be able to comfortably run the sub 3h:15m marathon based on my current fitness.
To top this up I also intend to run higher mileage in this training cycle compared to previous, add some extra strength work, and improve my rather limited range of motion in my hamstrings/calves/quads etc. Most weeks I should be up in the high 50 miles and, many will by 60-70 mile weeks. Add to that the 28 pounds of blubber I intend to lose for the race, I should have no problem hitting my goal.
December has seen me undergo a gradual increase in mileage and the number of times per week I train. Before December I was a 30-40 mile a week runner, over 5 -6 runs. During December this has increased to 40-50 miles a week, and most weeks have seen a minimum of 7 runs per week…
So…the plan is locked in, the desire and determination to reach my target is there, the coaching knowledge is there, the weight loss will come and so will the performance. Bring on VLM 2015, I’m gonna smash it hard.