Training plans are rubbish aren’t they? It’s the way they stare at you making you feel bad, inadequate and underprepared that I hate. It’s difficult to argue with them because they don’t compromise, however long you stare at the words “8 miles steady” they don’t change.
I’ve tried to avoid crosses on my training plan by using arrows, annotations, excuses and changed numbers, but the fact remains that a tick is a tick and anything else just isn’t. After a good 10 minutes of staring from my training plan to my left leg and back at my training plan again, it’s time to remind myself that Haile Gabreselassie doesn’t use a training plan.
The good thing about being a bit of a geek and logging your runs somewhere other than scraps of paper is that you can find them again. And when you find them again they’re not covered in bits of food or scribbled over with nonsense like ‘buy food’ or ‘pay rent’.
So, in need of a reality check and hoping for some reassurance, I looked up last year’s runs – the ones I did before my first marathon. Turns out that, even with missing a few sessions, I ran 15 miles more in July 2011 than I did in Feb 2010. My long runs were 2-3 miles longer in 2011 and what’s more, I ran my long runs at 1 minute per mile faster. Could sub-4 glory still be in reach?
As my friend Matt Fitzgerald said to me once (and by this I mean, what I read in his book): “If it does nothing else, a runner’s training must make him feel prepared, because if he feels prepared, he is prepared, and if he doesn’t, he isn’t.”
So it’s time to think about what I need to do in the next four weeks to make myself feel prepared – and then do that.