Is it ever possible to comfortably run a marathon? Bear with me; it’s a serious question. See, on 17 April I’m taking on the Brighton Marathon, my first 26.2 miler in preparation for the Marathon des Sables 2018. And I’m making it my mission to enjoy every last step with a minimum of aches and pains. I’m convinced it’s possible.
Here’s why: I usually enjoy – not just endure – the first 13 miles or so of my longer runs. I feel like I’m flying along the pavement with footsteps as light as butterflies’ kisses. And then… WHACK. My muscles go into mutiny and the run becomes an ordeal. It’s nine weeks until the marathon; I’m going to spend them trying to make running more comfortable.
That’s what the blackboard (beautifully modelled above by Sprog the Elder) is about. I’ve just completed a 16-week marathon training schedule (two months early – that was the plan) and am sure I could do 26.2 miles now if required. But it would hurt. So in coming weeks I’ll be using the blackboard to tailor my own weekly training plan in the hope of stretching out the sweet spot and squeezing out the suffering on 17 April.
I’ll mostly be using the interval and tempo workouts outlined in Budd Coates’ excellent Running on Air with strengthening exercises I’ve picked up from various spots online. I now squat pretty much every day to build glute strength. I also do core work (table tops, planks, sit ups). To build hip strength, I do reverse lunges, banded knee raises, etc; for calves and quads I do a mix of forward lunges, carioca (a kind of cross legged squat), knee raise planks, etc.
Maybe I’m being incredibly naive, but I’m hoping all this (and the weight training I’ll be starting in the next few weeks – the shoulder is nearly better, at last) will help make 17 April a bit more comfortable. It better had, for the Brighton Marathon is just the beginning of my journey to the Sahara.