I simply want to see if I can do it.
I had entered my first half marathon as a bit of a joke in April 2018. I was going home to see my family in Germany for a weekend and my dad said on the phone “shall I put you down for the Postmarathon?” as the dates coincided. It was meant as a bit of a joke but after some short consideration I signed up for my first ever half marathon. I think I surprised everyone who knows me, including myself. I have run several trail & road half marathons and 10Ks since, not necessarily chasing PBs but enjoying the overall atmosphere, meeting like minded people and giving my competitive self a reason to push my limits just a bit further. It’s also a good excuse for a weekend away. A friend once said I’m running half marathons for ‘lols’. Suppose that’s somewhat right.
But can I run a marathon too?
I decided to find out and applied for the London Marathon as it would take place on my birthday this year and what better way to celebrate, right? OK, bubbly and cake might be an easier and more enjoyable option…
As soon as I hit the register button, doubts kept creeping up. What had I done? Was I ready for this? And it also meant I would have to train properly for the first time. However, like so many others, I didn’t win a place in the ballot and after a mix of relieve and disappointment, I decided to do it anyway. Same date. Different city. Guaranteed place. The Run Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Madrid will be my nemesis. I took part in the Liverpool Run Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon before and really liked the atmosphere and overall organisation and as I have never been to Madrid before it will be a bit of a birthday present to myself as well.
Left: Didn’t win a place in the London Marathon ballot but got a nice wind and waterproof jacket
Right: Preparing myself. Very funny and honest book by Joel H. Cohen
Once I had made up my mind and registration, flight and hotel were sorted, it was time to get organised about my running too. Should I use one of the many available training plans? And which one? It soon became clear that a plan requiring 5 days of running per week won’t work for me as I still want to incorporate some mountain biking and hiking into my free time. Oh, and at least one lazy rest day of course. So a 3 day option it would have to be. After some research I decided to use the FIRST (Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training) method which claims to make you run faster by running less. Sounds perfect, right? Unfortunately, running less also means having to run faster and with higher intensity to get the training effect you want. Guess I’ll find out if I made the right decision. The plan is devised for 16 weeks leading up to the marathon but knowing that there will be some weeks I won’t be able to do the full training schedule with it being Christmas and all, I am going to start earlier and repeat a week I didn’t complete. This way it should be less stressful and still give me the desired results.
Am I aiming for a specific finishing time?
My competitive and ambituous self says “yes”. From where I stand now I would like to run the marathon in around 4h30min which equates to around 10min/mile. However, depending on how the training is going I might have to amend this up or down. My “running should be fun” self is not going to put me under too much pressure. If I feel the time is not realistic or should I struggle on race day, I’m going to take it slower. I want this to be a good and enjoyable experience and don’t want to look back and hate it.
Another thing I will try is looking closer at what I’m fuelling my body with. Nutrition is important, I know, but I’m also a food and chocolate lover. I bought myself a new cookbook specifically aimed at runners’ needs and want to incorporate some of the tips and meals into my daily diet without taking the fun out of food.
During the coming months and weeks I will try to give regular updates on how things are going, struggles, successes etc.
Let the preparations begin.
PS: if you’re wondering why someone who believes in the metric system uses miles – 26.2 miles sounds less than 42.2km!