After a couple of hard weeks effort, I'm beginning to feel the benefits of the intense training that I'm putting myself through for Barcelona 2012. When you take on the effort of a full marathon you make a pact with yourself on how you're going to approach training. This can change as 'life gets in the way' during the training cycle.
If I look back at the 4 marathons I completed over the past 4 years, I can identify those where I was fully prepared, and those where I could have done more. In hindsight, I don't think I was anywhere near ready for two of them, and they are (unsurprisingly) the 2 races where I've been less satisfied with my time and performance.
I'd go so far to say that I've known from the beginning of training the races where I knew I'd have a good performance. Almost as if doing well was pre-ordained. In 2010 I was determined to improve significantly on the previous years marathon, where I felt I'd sold myself short. As was, I shaved off 25 minutes from my finish time and felt great at the end. Last year, training started really well, but I had to move city for work half way through training, and the change disrupted my training schedule, so that I was doing less, and didn't fulfil my potential come the end of the race. I was too distracted.
|Sr Casarrubios & me in Llangollen|
This year I've buddied up with my friend Enrique who is based in London (I live in Manchester) and we're training 'together' - doing the same schedule at least, with the occasional run in person! After my spring marathon last year, I opted for the first time to really push on and keep my fitness up by conditioning my half marathon skills over the summer. I was caught out by the heat in last years London marathon (it was unseasonably warm) and having trained only in cold weather/not pushed myself, I got found out come race day.
I can't do much about the winter weather, but having trained a lot with Enrique over summer, I know that both he and I are of similar ability. We ran two handicap races with our club, Victoria Park Harriers. Both times he was only a matter of seconds behind me. Come September, we both ran a half marathon - he the Royal parks, me Bristol. Results wise there was only 15 seconds difference!
With a bit of cajoling I persuaded him to upgrade from the half marathon distance to full marathon. I've known Enrique for 5 years and know his character well enough to know he'd apply himself fully to getting ready for his first marathon. I promised that I'd help with a training plan, tips and would follow whatever training he would do so that come race day we are equally prepared. Of course I'm aware that two people can do exactly the same training but due to different biology, end up with different times. But having been running equal times for the past year, we're both confident we can match each other toe to toe come the marathon at the end of March. At the very least we'll give it a good go!
Training wise we're both nerds updating our stats from the end of each run and so far times are mirroring each other. This weekend we had a training camp up here in the North. Some hard running was done - a hill session and a long 18 miler. Pleased to say we both felt great and pushed each other on.
Having said our goodbyes he's back to London to train with VPH, me with Salford Harriers, until we do it again and I return to the capital in a fortnight to see how we're getting on! As Simon Freeman put in his post on training with others it really does keep the motivation up, whether its in a group or just with one other person - theres no slacking off (I don't want him to see blank spaces on my schedule where I should have run!). Its a healthy rivalry, even if its just egging each other on. Come race day we'll put ourselves in the best position possible having done this training. I've not felt fitter/as prepared for a race as I do this time, Enrique says the same. Here's hoping our little experiment pays off and we can cross the line together. It'd cap a great training cycle and effort put in together. Buena suerte tio!!