I am now into the final week of preparation for my one and only marathon and thought this would be a good time to take stock and commit a few things to the blog before the event itself.

I have been working to an 18 week training plan courtesy of Hal Higdon. There have been a few tweaks and issues along the way:

1. The longer plan allowed for a more gradual step up in the intensity and distance, something that seemed to work well given my history of injury. This has been borne out by the results to date, with no significant enforced training breaks, something that I have failed to achieve in the last 3 years.

2. My pre-existing metatarsal problem has never really gone away and I have a slightly tender foot after every long or intense run. This meant that very early in the plan I accepted that Monday and Tuesday were both going to be running-free days to prevent a flare-up of the old problem after the long Sunday runs. In addition I have rather obsessively maintained a regime of icing my foot and ankle on a daily basis. In fact, for the last 3 weeks I have been immersing my feet in ice water 2-3 times daily to ensure everything settles down for the big day. The cold weather in Scotland this May has meant that I am likely responsible for close to 100% of sales of ice from my local supermarket. When quizzed by staff on my need for ice on a cold morning I was jokingly offered some from the fresh fish counter [Insert own punchline here].

3. As a result of the Monday/Tuesday adjustment in #2, I have been able to hit almost every single major workout in the plan. The key events for me are the long runs, the intervals (hills and speed) and the tempo runs. This change has meant that I have had to drop some of the other runs in the original plan. Quite apart from the fact that the foot was not capable of any increased stress, I am convinced that the intensity I have included more than made up for any lost miles.

4. I stepped up the long run distance from that originally prescribed. Hal Higdon had the long runs peak at 3 x 30km, but I became acutely aware that I did not wish to hit the wall at 20 miles and know that I still had the equivalent of a 10k race to go and for this range to be entirely new for me. As a result, I changed the final three long runs from 30-30-30 to 30-34-38. There was an incredible satisfaction in completing this distance without too much trauma.

5. During the 18 week plan I added a number of races to test the system at speed and over distance. This resulted in 3 x half marathons, 3 x 10k races and 1 x 10 mile race being included during the 18 week window. It has been very reassuring to find that I can now turn up at a half marathon and run a solid race right in the middle of a tough training week, find the HM passes quickly and still have the fitness, enthusiasm and leg speed to run a very reasonable (for me) 10k road race only a few days later.

The remaining workouts this coming week are short, few and simple. I feel lean and strong. On my last tough run on Saturday I felt great, even when tagging 8km onto my regular 5km parkrun. The legs seemed to crave a faster speed than the workout demanded, even 11-12km into the run. The fact that this came on the final day of a week that included a half marathon, tough hill repeats and a 10k road race gave a tremendous boost to the confidence reservoir.

I am still pinching myself about what I have achieved in terms of strength and general fitness. The change in my mental approach to each challenge has been just as rewarding as the physical advances I have made. It will sound very clichéd to say so, but this has been a journey. A journey mainly round and round Falkirk and Grangemouth, but it has been a journey.

7 days to go!


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