London Marathon training begins!

Hi all, and a belated Happy New Year for 2016 to you all.

So what were you doing when the bells rang in the New Year? I was hurriedly filling out the form for my entry into the Snowdonia Marathon Eryri 2016! Sure enough, around 20 minutes into the year, my place was booked, and within 13 hours, race entry had sold out! And so I’m in for the possibly the most brutal yet beautiful (at the same time) race in the country! But more about Snowdonia and the planned racecation another time. Its less than 16 weeks until the 2016 London Marathon and that means another training diary to map my progress.

Given that I’ve spent much of the last six months doing little running, and only the last month to gradually build up my mileage, its fair to say that I’m quite wary about my approach to quite possibly the biggest race of my life yet. A World Marathon Major. A reasonably flat course, and if I can break free of the crowds and bottlenecks, maybe another crack at the magic sub-3 hours. But sesamoiditis may well have shorn some of my speed endurance, if indeed not my speed overall, and right now the precautions I’m taking are criticial to ensuring I stay on track.

It seems with a new year comes renewed focus, and that’s not just looking after my sesamoids, but my whole body too. Maybe its the most excessive Christmas ever experienced, one I felt quite ashamed at myself with. So much snacking on biscuits and shortbread and yule log ad nauseam, its a miracle my high metabolism is still working. But far from making more resolutions – because they’re so hard to keep – I’ve got myself together with a training plan taken from a running club’s website and tweaked it to fit in with the demands of a more active family life and a more distant job (in terms of the commute).

This week I managed four of the five planned runs, with a solid tempo run home after my swimming lesson on Tuesday and some gloriously muddy miles the following night. I then didn’t run until Saturday (more on why in a moment, when I finally took part in my first ever parkrun! It was my local parkrun in Greenhead Park, Huddersfield, and despite the rain hordes and hordes of people of all abilities turned up to run, direct and volunteer. I opted to start in the pack after receiving my briefing, but before long I’d overtaken numerous people and was already past the 20 minute pacer early in the first long lap. I struggled to sustain my pace around halfway through but finished strong to come 9th in my first parkrun, 2nd in the Senior Male 30-34 category and in a time of 18:30. I count this as my official PB over 5K having never run the distance standalone before. After months away from high tempo running, it was good to know I can still drop the hammer, and with a split of 17:28 over 5K to aim for, I want to attend parkrun regularly to whittle away at it. However I completely understand the buzz with parkrun now – its wonderful to see how it inspires people to join in, make friends and turn up for a free 5K challenge each week with no judgments made against them, to inspire people to get active. I really want to make this a regular part of my training now, and in time I’d love to give something back and volunteer my services one day. Huddersfield parkrun, you are brilliant!

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In complete contrast, my Sunday long run, planned through Judy Woods in Wyke, towards Coley and back home via Hipperholme, saw me lose all sense of direction and comprehension of navigational tools – I wound up very muddy, with only 7 miles clocked instead of the intended 8.2, a bit of a setback as regards building my mileage goes. I never even made it to Coley. Still, Judy Woods is a wonderfully beautiful place, and one I’ll fully appreciate when I get to know it better.

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The beautiful Judy Woods, 10/01/16

Overall, 23 miles run this week, 34.26 for the year so far. I’m progressing in the right direction for someone who only started running regularly again a month or so ago. A decent if often muddy and wet start.

Priorities now are to kick on with week two of training, and to decide whether to tweak my planned 10 miler next Sunday down to an 8 or 9 mile run instead. I need to go get some new shoes – orthotics plus thick Thorlo socks are pushing my toes together in my already cushioned Sauconys and even in my Salomons, which was giving me cramp below my toes. That’s disappeared now but it affirms the urgency to get my new shoes sorted as these will likely be the ones I run the marathon in. And probably half a size or more up to accomodate the thicker socks at least.

On top of that, I’ve been super good to myself this week, more often than incorporating numerous aspects of strengthening exercises – metatarsal doming, eccentric stair exercises, a kettlebell workout, hip exercises, a great routine from Active.com (10 Running Specific Strength Training Exercises) and of course, regular stretching and icing of the limbs, hips and in the latter case, the feet. I must keep on top of that to keep sesamoiditis at bay, and to improve my overall stamina, posture, form and much more. And at some point I really must see to my bicycle, which sustained a front tyre puncture, or possibly bust inner tube. Either way I want it fixing and to get it back on the road. A great alternative if I should pick up any unwanted irritants or otherwise.

Until next time people, happy running!

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Wyke Beck, 10/01/16
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Bottom Hall Viaduct, Lightcliffe, 10/01/16. Note the old Schweppes advert!
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Judy Woods, 10/01/16
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