Marathon training weeks 11-14

Last Sunday I finished my run, had a shower and headed out for lunch with my family. I ordered a glass of Prosecco and toasted myself. I’d finished peak week of marathon training. I’d just run a 20 mile long run. I’d done the hard work, and that was worthy of celebrating. 

I really had no idea how marathon training would go this time round. I came into it with an open mind and a flexible schedule. Making it through 13 weeks has been a massive achievement for me. 

Previous recaps for weeks 1-6, 7-10.

On paper my mileage hasn’t been what I’d hoped for back in December when I sketched out a plan: 33.5, 33, 37, 29 miles for the past four weeks. I started 14 weeks ago with a base level that was lower than I wanted because of an autumn of being ill. Add in a couple of missed runs and I wasn’t able to sensibly reach my target mileage. 

But a lot of things have gone right. My weekly tempo/threshold sessions have felt more comfortable and (despite going into them with tired legs from those runs) I’ve finished my long runs not feeling broken. 

I’ve managed to tick off four runs a week nearly every single week, and that’s something that I might not have been able to say at a higher volume. So I’m taking my confidence from feeling strong during this process. 

Keeping busy

The past three weeks also coincided with some pretty busy and stressful work weeks for me. I have childcare in the shape of grandparents one day a week and other than that I work during naps, in the evening and on weekends. 

When a Friday night comes round and the baby is in bed, I don’t always want to head to the gym. I often want to sit on the sofa or feel I should be doing some work. Thanks to my partner and parents I’ve been able to do all three most of the time. 

I realise that everyone juggles their training with other commitments. I don’t have it harder than anyone else, these are just the things I have going on in my life and they’re all thing I chose. 

One thing I didn’t choose was the storms and wind we’ve had in the UK the past few weeks. As well as making for some tough long runs, they also meant buggy running hasn’t been on the cards much. But you can’t choose what weather you’ll have on race day, so you may as well get used to that in training.

I had a sports massage on the Tuesday after my 20-miler and booked another for race week. I did a couple of easy runs in the week and then headed to parkrun on Saturday to run with the graduating beginners who started running with me in January. I ran just 3 seconds faster than I did back in December, which was a little disappointing but I have to remember I’ve still got 30 miles in my legs from the previous six days.

Today I ran 15 miles and when 15 miles doesn’t sound that scary any more, you know you’re getting close to race day. So all that remains is to make it through two weeks without tripping over anything or dropping something on my foot. Easier said than done with a toddler in the house. And then there’s a decision to be made about my goal race pace: play it safe or go all in. Either way, I’ll see you on the other side. Next stop: Manchester.