Run a marathon…with no training…..what????
For those that are regular readers of my blog, you’ll no doubt be aware that I have had to vastly reduce the number of miles I run each week. As such I have mostly been focusing on events that are a shorter distance – however last weekend provided something of a puzzle – as I was competing in the Snowdon Marathon, but I hadn’t done any marathon training…so here’s what I had done, and also what happened….
In the weeks (and months) leading up to the marathon I had been doing plenty of speed work (including sprints, hill work, track work pace work etc) covering up to around 12 miles per week. Since June, I have only completed one ‘long’ run – that being the Leighton 10 in September….in addition to this I have been using my ‘Elliptigo’ bike (pictured) once a week– which is a stand-up bicycle – similar to an elliptical machine you might find in a gym – but for the outdoors. The other thing I had been doing is going swimming (for around an hour a week – I’m no Michael Phelps – but have been trying to improve).
On the day of the marathon I knew that of the two guys I might normally run a marathon with, Ian Mulry was aiming for running a ‘sub 4 hour’ marathon – and that John Kirwan had been (and still was) suffering with a cough / cold – which left me a little in the middle – I didn’t think I was in any kind of shape to chase Ian round, but John wasn’t sure how he would fair…so I was on my own.
Once the run started I let Ian shoot off on his own – rather than try to keep with him. I did run with Shane Williams (Welsh rugby player) for a while – which was pretty cool – but then settled in to the race. The course ‘undulates’ to say the least. The first 5 miles are uphill – then 5 down…a few gentle rise and fall miles, another big climb at around 13 miles – followed by the mother of all hills to get up (starting at mile 22 – till past mile 24!) and then a mile down to the finish.
My plan was thus. I knew I should be fine on the first 5 miles – that should be more than ok – and then 5 miles downhill would be nice – so I felt comfortable in getting to mile 10 without any problems. From then my plan was just to finish – in no set time – just to finish. So I aimed to get to the next mile (mile 11) without stopping walking…and then see how I felt – I was ok so then the aim was to get to mile 12 without walking….tick – the same for mile 13….so as each mile passed, my only focus was on getting to the next mile – if at that point I felt I had nothing left in the tank – or was struggling – that I would walk – the only aim was to get to the end in our #runfortracy.
As I got to mile 19 or so I started to really feel tired – but I knew that the big hill was at 22….so then my goal was just run 3 more miles, and then ‘get over’ the hill in anyway possible.
This was tough (normally we can do three miles easily right?) well this was hard….but then I reached the drink station at mile 22 and the start of the ‘killer hill’, and I switched to a ‘power-walk’ – ok it was probably more like an Oldman shuffle – but I tried to just keep a momentum going up the hill (think of Shenley Hill for 2 miles!) Interestingly at this point some of the others around me were running – and I was ‘striding’ but matching their pace. Once I reached the plateau on the hill I pushed to start running again – and then hit the downhill…..which is awesome and really fast….must be the fastest last mile to any marathon….its nuts! – then around 250mtrs along the flat in town at the finish – it was all systems go….
I was surprised at how well I felt on the day – and how I managed to hold my pace without training really for that – and have now had time to think about my approach to the event on the day. I think that although I hadn’t trained for a marathon, I had been training hard – 6 days a week really pushing, just at shorter distances – and then mixing in swimming and Elliptigo riding – so I was at a pretty high fitness level.
But I think more than that was that I didn’t put any pressure on myself – I had already made a deal with myself that if at any point I was finding it tough or hurting, that I would walk – and that I was ok with this – also I wasn’t planning or aiming for a certain finishing time – just to get round – so I think mentally there was no pressure – I wasn’t expecting anything special or to have a great run – so I was in a really good mental position.
So my conclusion is that if you have been training – and then you are doing something that maybe hasn’t been on your radar or wasn’t in your plans – then don’t panic, try to just think what will be will be and enjoy yourself….