*note; this is how I've been training for a marathon, I'm not exactly a pro - I just get out and run.
I'm writing this post following two weeks of pretty unsuccessful training, as part of my preparations for the 2019 New York Marathon (I still can't believe I'm running it). Over these past two weeks, so much has gone through my mind with regards to my training, that I decided I wanted to take the time to write about marathon training as a whole - as whilst I'm incredibly excited for the marathon itself, the training, in my opinion, is not so fun.
The New York Marathon will be my second marathon to date, following my first in Cyprus earlier this year. Now, I had an absolutely amazing experience at the Cyprus Marathon for the most part, but just like my training for NYC, I found the training to be extremely challenging both physically and mentally.
A marathon is hundreds of miles. The finish is the last 26.2.
For my training, I gave myself a 16 week schedule, of running three times a week - Monday, Wednesday & Saturday. With some general core exercises on off days in between. During my training for Cyprus, I began following a plan that would see me running four times a week, but that didn't last very long. I hold my hands up and admit that I just couldn't handle or, or more specifically, my legs couldn't. It didn't take long for injuries to creep up on me, and I didn't want to make that mistake again in my training for NYC - so I decided to drop it to three runs a week.
For the Monday run, I figured I would run between 6-8 miles each week, trying to run at what would be my marathon pace. On Wednesdays, I would run 3 miles (5k), trying to run that at a much faster pace, and on Saturdays I would run longer distances, 10+ miles, at marathon pace. For the first few weeks that schedule was working pretty well for me; I was enjoying my runs, and I was holding a good pace (for me anyway) - the 5k runs were pretty damn speedy, and the long runs were roughly where I wanted them to be.
As the runs got longer, the more my legs would hurt - now, I'm not sure if that is a simple equation or not, but that's the results I was getting. Take my latest long run for example - I was planning a long run, longer than the 13 miles I'd ran the previous Saturday. However, three miles into the run and my legs were having none of it; they were both sore, it was frustrating me and I was getting super annoyed. I pushed on for a few more miles and nothing changed and I was contemplating throwing in the towel, but I kept going. I knew I was coming up to a long downhill section, so I decided to hold out and see if things got better, and they did. Sure, the pain never went away, but I didn't hate every second anymore - I just gritted my teeth and pushed through it, and I ran 15 miles.
Now, you would think after reading that last paragraph that I should be happy - I just ran 15 miles right?! But that wasn't to be at all. The week following that run (last week, at the time of writing), I REALLY struggled with my running. I gave myself a little longer to recover, skipping the Monday run, and aiming for a 6+ mile run on the Wednesday. Then Wednesday came around, I set out on my run, and I hated every second of it. I ended up running 5 miles, however, my pace was way off, my legs were heavy, and I pretty much hated every second of it. But I got through it, I didn't give up, and I guess I should be happy about that. I didn't get my long run that week on the Saturday, but that's more due to alcohol consumption and epic hangovers...but I'm pretty sure I would have struggled, and the extra rest would do me good.
Then take this week, all started well with a 10k run on Monday and I was feeling pretty good; I kept a decent pace throughout, and my legs weren't sore, albeit some slight pain on the uphill sections, but it was manageable. I was feeling pretty miserable in general that day (I thought it was just after effects of my hangover that weekend and a lack of sleep), but as the week went on, I started to feel worse and worse. By the time it got to Wednesday, there was no way I was going to be able to run - I was so choked up, I was coughing & spluttering and my head was killing me. Two days off work followed, and I'm unsure if I'm gonna be able to do my long run tomorrow or not - but I am hoping to hell that I feel better, at least good enough to do some sort of run.
This all may seem like I'm just moaning about running, and I guess I kind of am. But it all takes its toll mentally too, and there are times where I think, "why am I putting myself through this?!". And it's hard not to have these thoughts when you are literally dragging yourself, and your body through runs because you feel that you have to. But in the end, you just get through it, because it is all gonna be worth it, and all we have to do is just have to drag our asses to the starting line.
Now a HUGE part of training for any run, never mind a marathon, is recovery. One of my major failings in my training for Cyprus was not managing my recovery properly and I definitely suffered for it. I would find myself coming in from a run, grabbing some water, jumping in the shower and then I'd be making dinner or lazing on the sofa. I wouldn't stretch, or I wouldn't work on my muscles with the foam roller - unless I was really feeling something, and by that point, it was probably too late. I was determined to change this for NYC training and I have been trying to keep on top of it...but not as much as I should be, unfortunately. The thing is...using a foam roller sucks and it hurts like hell!
Now, I still have another four full weeks of training left, one of which includes an epic 21 mile BrewDog Run, a week on Saturday. I'm hoping that run is going to be a real indicator of how I'll fare in New York, and after that I'll probably need to start thinking about tapering my runs and winding my training down. I really hope I get to run tomorrow, and I really want to make it a long one, but I guess I'll just need to see how things go. I really am determined to push through the rest of this training, to give myself the best shot at giving a good account of myself come marathon day.
I want to end this blog post with a bit of advice; if you are thinking about taking part in a run - do it. Sure, you will train for it, and you may hate it, but stick with it, and when you do that run, and you cross the finish line surrounded by people cheering you on - it will be one of the best decisions you ever make. The rush that you get from it is up there with the best feeling you'll ever experience.
Running a marathon is an incredible feat for any person, both physically and mentally. It is certainly my biggest achievement, and running those 26.2 miles through the greatest city in the world will be something I know that I'll never forget - and it will make all those painful training runs worth every step. I can't wait.
I've learned that finishing a marathon isn't just an athletic achievement. It's a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.
All Aberdeen Aberdeenshire Beer BrewDog Cyprus Everything Else Festival Half Marathon Marathon Marathon Training Marvel Mexico Movies Music Netflix New York North Hop Paris Podcast Pop Culture PS4 Race Report Review Running Star Wars The Menzingers Travel True Crime TV Video Games