Three weeks to go until I start my 18-week Pfitzinger and Douglas training plan for this year’s Dublin Marathon, and I’m slightly concerned; I feel a little unfit for purpose.
Last Saturday I set out for an 8-mile morning run, with the intention of doing the 4 middle miles at around my 10-kilometre race pace. After a couple of good fartleks in recent weeks, this was to see how sharp and fresh my legs felt, and how ready I was for the rigours of summer marathon training.
Answer: not completely ready just yet.
After two miles of a warm-up on a pleasant sunny morning with a gentle breeze to cool me, I moved up gradually through the gears and slipped into my fast pace. However, by the end of the first mile I was already working harder than expected, and I was a few seconds slower than my target.
And then at halfway in the second mile I felt my body ease down gradually to a stop, like a car running out of fuel on a motorway. I had no control over this, and in fact I almost started laughing at how funny it felt. This was a new experience for me – the slowing to a halt, I mean; I have been known to start laughing at strange or inappropriate moments (usually at the doctor’s).
Once my moment of slight madness had passed, there was nothing for me to do except trot home sheepishly (if sheep can be said to trot) for the rest of my run. I still enjoyed it, though – the weather and scenery was great around my ancestral homeland of Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland.
On reflection, I was a bit tired before I set out for my run, so perhaps I was being overambitious in trying to put in some hard miles. In the previous few days I’d travelled a lot and had been fairly busy, so that had surely drained me a little.
Also, in an effort to dissolve a couple of the kilograms I picked up on my recent holidays in Italy, I had cut back on carbs for the last couple of weeks – no potatoes at lunchtime, less bread in the evening. The carb-unloading did its job, but it’s not sustainable during hard training – carbs are fuel for runners, and in moderation they’re essential.
So, with three weeks to go until I start my marathon training, where do I stand?
Well, maybe it’s no bad thing to feel a little off-form right now. After all, the plan is to peak in 20 weeks’ time – there are no prizes for tearing around today. Perhaps the body is imposing its own holidays on me before it starts into a new season of work.
I’ll spend the next 3 weeks getting a balance of stamina and speed – some strides and hills, and a few race-pace miles sprinkled in too. With the occasional bursts of summer weather drying out the parks, I’ll get in some grass miles too – good for the legs and great for the mind.
And just as importantly, I’ll need some good periods of recovery time too, so that I can rest up and get excited about the non-running world. Now, if only there was a major football tournament coming up on TV in the next few weeks…