While mumming and marathon training are not the best bedfellows, this week I’ve started to believe that I might actually make it to the start line of the 2019 London Marathon. Until now I’ve been pretty certain that I would defer my place, but listening to GB running coach Nick Anderson on the Running for Real podcast during one of my runs this week has me thinking that I may be able to go the distance.
Listening to Anderson’s advice has given me the confidence that if I structure my training well, I can get my body ready in the three or four runs each week that I am able to fit in around being a full-time mum. It is about learning to train smart and not just training long and hard.
While the Sunday long run is still important, Anderson advises against pinning everything on this. It is also crucial to get in strength and conditioning work to ensure that your form is good, that you have good stability, that you are activating the right muscles and that they are strong enough to carry you the distance. Likewise he advises that you do a threshold run each week – that is working for all or part of one run at slightly faster than marathon pace – as well as an easy, pre-breakfast recovery run, to get your body used to burning fat stores rather than carbohydrates. He also suggests structuring your long run so that with ten weeks to go, the second half is faster than the first, teaching you both about pacing the early miles and pushing through on tired legs.
It is also important to have your ‘pull-back’ weeks every third or fourth week, where you reduce the mileage of your long run to allow you to recover and for your body to adapt to the increased mileage. As he points out:
‘you get fitter through adapting. You don’t get fitter through just doing more training’
So what does this look like for me in practice? Well I’m using my Monday morning buggy fit and Wednesday morning baby barre classes for strength and conditioning, getting out for 3 week day runs either before Florence gets up in the morning (when I can get six or seven miles in if I’m up just after 6am) or while she has her music and bath time in the evening (which my husband is in charge of and when I can get in around five miles), plus a long weekend run, on either the Saturday or Sunday, depending on our weekend plans (and if I can pack Florence and daddy off to the dad’s ‘stay and play’ at the health centre!).
Alongside the practical advice from Anderson, this week I have also been inspired by ‘Epic Five’ finishers, Danielle Grabol and Melissa Urie, speaking on the Rich Roll podcast.
‘Epic Five’ involves completing five Ironman-distance triathlons on five Hawaiian Islands in under five days, an event that is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Only three women have ever completed the event and Grabol and Urie are two of them.
If you are looking for instant inspiration and the motivation to stop moaning and just get sh*t done, this is the podcast episode for you!
I think there is a lot to be said for Grabol’s attitude to hard training sessions, which is to acknowledge that ‘you wanted this so don’t complain’. Her observation that ‘everybody wants the finish line. Everybody wants a medal. But people don’t want to put the work in’, is also a good reminder that nothing worth having comes easy.
‘you wanted this so don’t complain’
I also love the gratitude that both Grabol and Urie show towards their support teams, who have allowed them to train for and complete this and other races.
‘you’ve got to be grateful and focus on the fact that this is an opportunity and a privilege [ …] that people care enough about you [to give you the support] so don’t be out there wining and complaining with a bad attitude because you’re not going to make it.’
This is something that really resonates with me at the moment, as to enable me to train for the marathon I have had to ask my husband to take on childcare responsibilities while I complete my long runs.
It is with all of this in mind that I mentally prepare for tomorrow’s long run and remember that when things get tough I chose to be out there, so there is no use complaining!