Bournemouth marathon is now just seven weeks away. That’s four big training weeks and then a three-week taper. It’s starting to seem really close and I’ve got mixed feelings about that. I’m excited to run this race and aim for a PB (under 3:38), but I know I’ll need the next four weeks to get me ready to sustain the pace I want to run at for 26.2 miles.

When I last (unsuccessfully) trained for a marathon PB and the time before that when I trained for Manchester marathon, pace was important to me. I had a designated pace for every run – easy, tempo, interval and long. It was all measured, analysed and agonised over. Not this time.

I remember when I was training for London marathon, turning down an invite from a friend to do our long run together because I had to hit a specific number of minutes per mile and the pace wasn’t compatible with the conversational speed on offer. I missed out of a fun few hours chatting with a friend and also missed out on my goal time.

Training for an autumn marathon means running through summer. Potentially, it means forgoing invites to run with others or to go do other fun things because you’ve got marathon training runs to do. I haven’t wanted to miss out on hanging out with friends – while running or in the pub – so I’ve made a few changes to the way I’m training. Namely, I’ve chilled out about pace.

intervals highbury

1k reps with friends who hated me a little bit

Each week I do a tempo run and an interval session. In these I run fast and aim to hit certain paces and sweat a lot. I do my tempo run alone on my way to work, or a couple of times I’ve done it as part of a 10k race. My intervals are done at lunchtime on a treadmill or I rope in a few friends and we do the same session together (perks of being a coach is I get to set the session for us all) but we all run at our own paces.

The rest of the week I’m not too concerned about my pace. I can run with friends who are slower or faster. I run over trails, I run along canals, I run to get where I need to go. I accept invites to run with others and I have a good time doing so. Last week I ran 45 miles and none of it felt like a chore.

I ran 16 miles with my friend Katie on Friday. We planned a route that took us via three outdoor swims. We stopped for a dip at each spot, we stopped for cake twice and we clocked up more miles than we’d planned without even thinking about it.

[Podcast coming soon.]

On Sunday I ran with Phil. We ran 10 miles along the canal. For the first few miles I moaned for him to slow down and for the last three miles we swapped roles. If I’d been concerned about a specific pace, I’d have missed out of both of these runs and neither were worth missing.

This time round my training ethos is simple: more miles, more smiles and pace in its place.

If you’ve missed my musings on this marathon training cycle, you can catch them all here: