Saturday, 27 March 2010

Week 2 - Marathon Training

The second week things really started to pick up - I was beginning to feel slightly stronger. The runs were longer and after a week without cigarettes I wasn't out of breath after every run. I was still trying to keep my runs fairly short and steady, with perhaps the most enjoyable run occurring on Sunday morning at 7AM. London was like a ghost town - no cars, no people - much better than normal! Normally I would wake up groggy and lifeless on a Sunday, but woke up early on the 21st and literally sprung out of bed.

I also attempted my first time trial! On Monday 22nd I plotted out a run of exactly 1 mile on around Clapham Common, and after a careful warm up and stretch gave it everything I had. I know most running sources would say don't over-exert yourself or include any speed training in the first month of training, but I thought what the hell. I like speed, and wanted to see how quick I was. Surely a four-minute mile couldn't be that hard?! I started off far too quickly, completely out of breath after the first 200m. I battled through, maintaining what I thought was a fairly rapid pace. The last couple of hundred metres were agony, anaerobic respiration kicking in and I wanted to stop more than anything, but powered through in olympic fashion. Surely this time was good - the pace was electric. Six minutes and 4 seconds. I wasn't sure whether to be pleased or not. Apparently this is fairly quick - just under 10 mph for a mile is fairly steady in my second week of training. Yet I could not believe how anyone could do it two whole minutes quicker than this - these guys were good! I was for some reason disappointed but also more determined - I wanted to get this time as low as physically possible. If I can go that quick in my second week, after six months I'm sure I could go below 5 minutes.  I would have to run each mile in 6mins 52 secs to complete the marathon in 3 hours, which is pretty bloody quick, but at least I could actually go that quick! I just need to somehow build my fitness and stamina to another level.

I went for a longer run on Tuesday - 4.5miles in 33mins 49secs. This was good pace, 7mins 30 per mile or 8 miles per hour, which is fantastic at such an early stage, but by the end I felt horrendous. I think I may have started far too quickly, and also ate before I set off, causing stitch and immense gut problems! I finished the distance I wanted too, then limped back. The blisters on the back of my feet were getting horrendous now - I hadn't used plasters and wore small trainer socks so my footwear acted like sandpaper. Ouch! I figured I hadn't picked up any injuries yet though, so this pain was a small price to pay for the gains I had made.

After a few easy days, I set about taking up my first interval session on Friday 19th. I was feeling good, now was the right time. I was going to attempt to tackle 500m intervals as quickly as I could (possibly not the best way to approach it), doing 6 reps with a couple of minutes recovery inbetween. I had been reading Jack Daniels' Running Formula which I bought about 6 years ago when I was trying to be healthy. It's quite in depth and very technical but really interesting. However, I had slightly ignored his advice, which suggested no speed training for the first 3 months. I thought 2 weeks was long enough! It went OK, but I was so exhausted after the 5th run I couldn't quite face the 6th, so jogged back to base very slowly. I had read in another book that 95% of all heart attacks caused by running are caused by stopping immediately after a hard run, as your muscles help pump your blood around the body, and if you stop exercising the blood stops pumping, making clots more likely. This scared the hell out of me, especially after my unhealthy lifestyle previously, so I'm going to keep on moving even after the heaviest workouts.

The first two weeks went really well, I just hope I can carry on my training and continue to build up gradually. I'm starting to look at entering 10K races over the next couple of months to compliment my training and give me real focus. The 3 hour time for the marathon in September still seems like an almost inachievable target, but my first two weeks have given me real hope, and I've been really pleased with my progress. It's a friend's birthday tonight, I just need to be sensible and not get too carried away!

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