I seem to have fallen into a habit of writing a marathon training update every two weeks. I can’t promise I’ll keep it up though, so don’t get too attached.
There’s now eight weeks to go – eek, scary, I’m not ready etc. – and in short, I’m neither where I thought I would be at this stage, or where I wanted to be. I feel no better a runner than I did six months ago, although I do admittedly feel fitter and my endurance is better (which I guess is the whole point of marathon training…) but I still feel like little old me. I don’t feel like a runner who can run a marathon. My body still feels like it’s not quite built for running. I realise that I’ll probably never feel how I expect a ‘proper’ marathon runner to feel though, so this isn’t too much of a concern.
What is a concern though, is that I’m behind where my training plan says I should be. After a run of niggles/injuries, illnesses and migraines I’ve struggled to put a full week of training together recently. I hope that if I manage the next eight weeks issue-free, I’ll find that I haven’t lost too much ground, but that’s by no means a certainty and I’m worried. Worried about getting to the start line in one piece. Worried about actually finishing the damn thing, let alone in under 4 hours. Worried about whether my body can actually do this without breaking. Worried about how long it’ll take me to recover afterwards. So yeah, worried.
But what I have done is learned a lot. About myself, my running, my body (I’m hypermobile – who knew?) , how much training works for me, how much recovery I need. And that can only be a good thing. Maybe I’ll run another marathon one day, maybe I won’t – but that knowledge is only going to help my future running. I’m also learning to value the process as much as the end goal. I’m still hesitant to adopt the ‘your first marathon is all about getting round’ mindset, because my sub-4 target is still very much alive and still my focus, but I do have a much greater appreciation for everything else that becoming a marathon runner is doing for me.
But enough of the navel-gazing, I’ve got two months of training to nail. Starting with a 16 mile run on Sunday, and the Cambridge Half (oh, and my birthday. 32 if you’re asking. I like pretty things if you’re still asking. ) next weekend. My aim for Cambridge is to run 1.53, which would be a 2 minute PB and where I need to be in order to be on track for my sub-4. I hear Cambridge is flat and fast, and I feel in reasonable half marathon shape, so I’m going to give it a good crack. I’ve also got a weekly marathon paced run on the plan, which is proving interesting. I can run my long run pace to feel, as I can my 5k or 10k race pace, but tell me to run at 5.30min/km and I find it really tricky to judge. I’m looking forward to becoming more familiar with the pace and it feeling natural, so I don’t have to watch-gaze constantly at London. I’m feeling vaguely more positive having written this, and it’s still all to play for. Two months today. Let’s do this.