Week 17 was nice actually. I can report no obvious signs of taper madness. I ran 32 miles. It had the one last hard speed session in there (3 x mile repeats) and a 12 miler so as tapering goes, I was far from couch bound. Here is my week in a MONTAAAAAGE:
Notable shout out (I) to my mate CARMAN! Just back from injury, (I feel ya sista). It was so awesome to get 3 miles in with this girl, to talk Pig strategies and be generally soothed. (I’ve missed you C! ).
And Notable shout out (II) to my daughter Holly, who ran the Pure Barre/Sonder 5K on Saturday in 33 minutes. This is about her 4th 5K and she’s improved every time. I love this girl. I see a bit of me in her but so much more HER. The best thing though? She got dressed for this run while I was out doing my 12 miler and look…. she’s wearing one of my buffs… just like I wear it. (Waaaaah, yeah, I’m actually crying). There are many things I do I don’t want Holly to emulate but if she chooses to emulate this… and finds a love of running coz of me? Well, my cup floweth over.
And final notable shout out (III) to all the people who took their turns at bringing it home this weekend so many to mention at so many races, i’d like to list but have fear of missing someone. I spent the weekend in envy and in awe.
So, normally here I would put my inner psychological debate, but I don’t really think I’m capable of debate right now, so this week I bring you…..:
….THE WISDOM OF MY WISEST OTHERS
In life it’s useful to have a people in your life who can fix things (Neil), people who will carry you home if needs be (yeah, you know who you are), people who will call you out lovingly if you’re being a dick (Erica) aaaaaand…. how about people who coach running and teach mindfulness?
For the remainder of this post, I’m sharing the wisdom they have given me:
SECTION !: Mindful Running
There are many runners I know who talk about “getting out of their own heads”. Penny, my lovely friend who teaches Mindfulness and coaches in my UK running club shares these tips before the club’s races and I LOVE THEM (and her), they seem like small things but they pay back BIG:
Notice your butterflies and label them
- I’m labelling mine “the fire in the belly”. I know that it’s there because the run matters – to me and as soon as I start running it will pass and convert to focus. It’s the furnace that fuels my train baby!
Calm your breath, which in turn can calm your body
- I find this seriously effective. Breathing feels obvious and omnipresent but calming it and focusing on it does pretty magical things. Not just in running either, if the sh*t goes down: BREATHE!
Focus on what you can control. Don’t worry about random things that MIGHT happen.
- I’ve trained like a boss. I’m going to set my alarm, fuel right and wear clothes I’ve worn before. I’m aiming to run the whole distance with my goal time pacer. If something happens that means I don’t deliver this goal then… well, nothing bad will happen. We just try again the next time.
Penny, next Sunday I shall visualise this picture and feel your hands on my shoulders. I’ve got this.
SECTION 2: A (brilliant) Coach’s Guide to running a marathon:
Just a word on where I get my coaching from. It’s this guy, Terry Wegg.
Whilst I share him with hundreds of others, he is always there to answer a (stupid) question, deliver wisdom, feedback, home truths, tough love but more than anything, for me personally it’s his belief. I can pinpoint the exact moment my running got better, it was the moment he said, with no doubt whatsoever, “of course you can run a 1:45 half marathon”. And do you know what – I did what he said and I ran a sub 1:45 half marathon.. (*He also now says I can do sub 1:40…).
He also says I can run do this. I believe him. I believe I can. Whether I do it this Sunday or not, well… see you here next week.
And here, because he says it best, is how to run a marathon:
The marathon may be over in 3-6 hours but the preparation takes place over 3 to 4 months. You plan, you train, you juggle commitments and all to put yourself on the start line in the best shape possible.
26.2 miles is a long way. For some, that will represent your longest distance, for others chasing times, it will certainly feel like the longest distance.
So how to approach the race? For most, I’d treat the opening miles as an easy warm up. Don’t get worked up about a bit of “stop-starting”, don’t worry about the mile splits, and don’t keep checking the watch. (London has a big clock at every mile).
If you have a time goal or a rough approximation on what you want to achieve then what is the best way of going about this? There is the “go out fast, bank time, try to hang on” approach or there is the “run evenly” approach. The former would lend itself to going off at lactate threshold pace (or close to it) which will lead to a build up of lactate in the muscles and you’ll start to deplete glycogen stores and inevitably you’ll slow down. So from a physiological stance the more optimal strategy is the latter, run ‘evenly’ strategy. The caveat being the profile of the course, but with London (and MK & Southampton) all being relatively flat, this is a minor issue. (ME: coughs, Pig!)
That said there will be a natural fatigue as the race develops, so it’s usually prudent for a slightly faster first half (1-2%). The elites can get away with exactly even pacing: their genetics and training put them on a different level to mere mortals.
The first half: Use the opening miles as a longer, easier warm up. Pace can be a little over target, you’ll soon get back on track, at this stage you’ll have 20+ miles to go. It should feel easy. Settle into a rhythm once the first 3-4 are ticked off and the runners have thinned out, stay relaxed and controlled. Periodically check your form: tall, shoulders relaxed, arms active back and forth. Take a few sips as a minimum at the early water stations even if you feel you don’t need it. From a mental point of view, the first half you should be cruising. If at any stage you feel heavy legged or tired, then chances are you are probably running a bit too quick. The second half, especially the last 10k is when you’ll need all your mental energy to keep it together.
The third quarter: from halfway to 20 is arguably the worst part with the tiredness starting but still a long way to go. This is where you start to need all your mentally trickery: the discipline of training pays off – those cold February mornings when you stuck rigidly to the 15 -16 miler. Just keep a tab on the mile clock and use the crowds, the sights and the runners around you to stay motivated. Get into a group of runners, share the odd word. A brief chat about your club, your races and your training will kill 3-4 miles. It is possible you may have a couple of “wobbly” miles when you start to feel a bit jaded but quite often this passes. This is not unusual, so just try to maintain that form and just by being aware this can happen, will aid you if it strikes. Keep taking on fluids in this phase and gels too if that is what you have practised. This will help keep you alert – the brain gets it’s fuel from glucose (carbs).
The last 10k: It is a common phrase that 20 is halfway and I wouldn’t disagree. That said this is what you have trained for, this is what you are prepared for. Those long runs when you had to dig in over the later miles on tired legs will start to pay dividends. This is where the patience and control over the first half will reward you as you’ll be tired but hopefully not wiped out. The key is to keep controlled, keep rhythmic and keep concentration, ticking off those miles. Some combination of calf muscles, hamstrings, quads, glutes or hips will give feedback on how fast you can maintain so be aware of this and modify pace if necessary. As the miles to go decrease, the more you can take a risk. Keep drinking until 24 / 25 miles and keep those blood sugars high (if offered jelly babies, take them).
385 yards: less than a quarter of a mile, less than two sides of the business park. Relax, savour the crowds, bow your head to the Queen as you stride past, and lift your pace through the finish, smiling as you do so. This is the culmination of 12-18 weeks’ worth of sacrifice, commitment and endeavour. This is your moment, enjoy it!
Regardless of the outcome, PB or no PB, struggle to the end of fly past with the energy of a 4-year-old, congratulate yourself. This is a big achievement and you should be proud of what you have done.
*courtesy of Terry Wegg & Hook Runners