Monday, 16 January 2012

Marathon Mode 2012

I’m in marathon mode at the moment. Nope I haven’t entered one, I stand by my decision to sit on those particular laurels and let the many runners I know get ready for their own particular marathons, while I concentrate on shorter races. I’m in marathon mode because I’m helping out three clients to run various marathons. Two, Ray and Katy, are doing specific sessions with me in preparation for their Manchester marathon. Rich, who trained with me, last year, in order to kick off his running experience, is taking bespoke training schedules from me and we plan to get together nearer the time to do some specific training together, before he tackles the Edinburgh marathon.

So I’m doing a lot of thinking about how I can best prepare all three for their respective marathons, because they are all individuals with different commitments so it’s not a one plan fits all. Of course I’ve got lots of knowledge to draw on, having been coached by a very successful marathon coach, Dave Lucas, for a few years. During my time with Dave I ran my marathon, but I was always very aware of his marathon training as most of the group were training for marathons. Dave managed to train a number of women to sub 3 hour marathons and national medals and two guys to become national champions. So thanks Dave for giving me a start to my marathon education and long may you remain a successful coach. I’ve now adapted my training approach to what I’ve learnt since then, everything moves on. 

So far I’ve been pretty successful, having helped Lee Riley to break the world record for running a marathon with a 40lb pack and I’ve also helped Ray to numerous pbs over the last year. Not forgetting that I’ve also coached myself to a fair bit of success since I moved away from London and decided to coach myself.

I’ve taken a decision that, if I’m to run and set sessions with marathon clients I need to remind myself of what they feel like. Therefore I need to do a certain amount of marathon type training myself. This could potentially be a problem, as my knee generally starts to cause me an issue if I run for longer than an hour, so to tackle this problem head on I’m also working hard in the gym to strengthen the muscles in my knee. Last week I started pushing myself with a session that is hard both mentally and physically, and it was tough. But that’s what you’ve got to do to tackle the marathon.

I have one specific session, I call the killer session. I’m not going to go into detail of what the session is about, when I told Katy she was both horrified and excited so lets just leave it at that, but once you’ve done the killer session you’re ready for the marathon. The killer session was something I have to give credit to Dave for, he used it year in year out with his groups, but when it was my turn to do the marathon I was working in Slovakia so I took Dave’s idea and adapted it to my own circumstances. It worked for me, yes it was hard, probably the hardest training session I’ve ever done (and I’ve done a few) but I was totally exhilarated afterwards. Of course I need to adapt the session to each client as everybody is different, but the trick is to reach a certain level of exhaustion by the end of it. I used it with Lee and made it particularly tough by using a soft surface and including a difficult hill that had to be repeated, and he was carrying his pack, but it worked, weeks later he broke the half marathon world record for carrying a 40lb pack, and then went on to smash the marathon world record. So that’s something for Ray, Katy and Rich to look forward to, oh and me as I’ve agreed to run it with Katy, just have to hope that knee holds out.

Of course I’m hoping to gain some benefit from all this additional training. When I was training for the marathon I was producing some pretty good results, consistent 31/32 minute 10ks, I was a member of Belgrave’s Southern 6 and 12 stage winning teams, I went over to Portugal to represent Belgrave in the European Champions Clubs Cup at the half marathon and finished, only, 4 minutes behind regular London marathon winner, Pinto, I produced my best ever Surrey League cross country result, a half marathon pb, my highest position in the national cross country champs and the week before the marathon ran sub 25 minutes on the 8k+ long stage at Milton Keynes. So I’m hoping I might get some good results this year, particularly as I’ve been training fairly consistently since my comeback from injury, early last year.  
It has taken it’s toll though, at the end of last week I was feeling pretty tired, as I’ve also been working harder in the gym, virtually to exhaustion on each of my cardio pieces (it’s amazing how you can burn out on one piece and then by the time you’ve unravelled yourself from that to get onto the next one you’re ready to burn yourself out some more), I do 5 minutes on each piece (I have 3 pieces) and then a further 5 minutes on the piece I started on, then I follow that with an abs, kettlebell or weight session. By the weekend my knee was beginning to ache, but I’ve realised that I’ve not actually had a day off training since the start of January, and most of that has been two sessions a day. I’ll take a break soon, I have plans.

All this tough training helps me to feel young, mind you that’s getting harder each year that passes. Today is my 47th birthday, yes incredible 47, I’m almost 50. I suppose that’s one thing about being the youngest sibling, my brother and sister will be well past 50 when it hits me, in fact my sister already is. I’m not doing too bad for an oldie, in fact, I feel a hell of a lot healthier than when I was working shift at RBS. Not only that but I’m a lot happier too.

For my birthday treat we revisited another part of my past, spending the weekend in Lytham St. Annes. I used to live there, when I was very young, about 40 years ago, obviously I don’t remember a great deal about the place but I enjoyed my brief life there. In fact it’s probably more than 20 years since I was last at Blackpool so it was a good opportunity to see what the area had to offer. On the way up we visited the Sweatshop in Ribby Village, I’ve had a voucher since coming in as first M45 at the Hollins Green 5k, just haven’t been able to get to a Sweatshop since then. I was looking for a pair of racing flats, it’s been some time since I bought a pair, I actually can’t remember when that was but I believe it was some 15 years ago. Since then I’ve had a couple of pairs of adidas, specifically made for me by a friend in the company, and a New Balance pair I won in the Wimbledon 10k. They’ve lasted well but are showing signs of wear so I figured it was time to invest in some new ones, particularly as I intend to race more big races this year. I was lucky there was a pair going in the shop, a Brooks ST 5. Now I’ve had Brooks before and I wasn’t impressed but then I’ve also had unimpressive New Balance as well as good ones. So I tried them on and they felt pretty good. So that was the voucher used up. It was also good to catch up with Dave Norman, who happened to be working there on Saturday. Dave is a very good athlete who runs for Altrincham & District and is also involved in the organisation of the Partington 10k, which is a great course that produces fast times.
Then onwards to St. Annes. We parked up at the hotel and walked along the beach to Blackpool. It was a lovely sunny, but cold, day and there were lots of people out walking, but it was more like a ghost town in Blackpool as most of it was shut, perhaps everybody was at Ipswich watching the Tangerines. Back to St. Annes and a scout around for somewhere to eat dinner. It was almost another Derby Dining Disaster as everybody seemed to be fully booked, but we managed to get into a Greek restaurant, albeit earlier than we’d have liked. Cocktail in preference to pudding ended the evening and away to the hotel for some good kip. The next morning we were up nice an early for a run, not a long one as we had plans but I decided to go the other way down towards Lytham. Not as nice a view over the estuary but the views across the green towards the big houses was pretty good. After breakfast we drove down and had a walk along the green and into the town, which is really quaint. Back home and then out for another walk along the river Weaver, during which we bumped into Ray, who was out for a run, wearing a rather smart Ronhill jacket.

But my birthday really starts today, it was nice to get up early for a client, even if it did mean scraping my windscreen. We had a good workout, or rather he did and then it was back home for my own workout. I chose to do one of my hardest session, such is my mindset, and for some reason it actually felt really easy. I’m hoping that’s because I’m getting so fit I’m coping with the training better, but perhaps it was just that now I’m so old I can no longer run hard enough to get out of breath. Oh well the proof of the low fat pudding is in the eating and we’ll soon see how things are progressing, when I do my next major race.

And speaking of Ray, he is now producing apps for the I-phone so if anybody has any ideas for an app that would make their life easier, let me know and I’ll pass them onto Ray.

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