I have taken on the challenge of running a Marathon, not any just any Marathon the The London Marathon. I got my place with St John Ambulance with a fundraising target of £1800. This is not only an opportunity to challenge myself but to give back to a charity who do so much for the running community, a charity who I have worked closely with in the past.
My training plan
My training plan consists of 20-weeks 4 x runs + 1 x Aerial. A beginners plan taking me from a Half to Full marathon. On the 2nd December I completed the Victoria Park half marathon with my best time of 2:07:40. It was so challenging but by far one of my best running moments, I was so proud of myself for completing it and bettering my time, something I had been aiming for all year.
On the back of this triumph I was on a high, felt super positive about the London Marathon, and begun my training plan.
At the same time I started my training plan, I also started a new job. Fantastic, but absolutely exhausting and overwhelming taking in all the new information, trying to find my place in the team and then training for a Marathon on top of that. So straight away, I didn’t manage a 4 x run week, but managed to do three a week right up until the new year. I managed a 5 day streak over Christmas and then was struck down with illness just after the festivities were over.
It took my training down a notch for a couple of weeks, cutting down on my mid week runs and sticking to a long run on the weekends, completing Victoria Park Half marathon in early January at a slightly slower pace of 2:15:11.
My training plan followed a pattern of building my distance every other week, so I began hitting the longer miles earlier than some of my friends also training for London Marathon. Late January I attempted my first run longer than 13 miles. I plodded along the river on a cold, dark and wet morning, joining a runthrough race at Greenwich Park. This worked well for me, I gave myself plenty of time to stop, take breaks and prep for the race. My legs did get tired post 10 miles as normal but I was proud of myself for accomplishing my first big run, mostly alone.
Following my long run high, I was thankful for a restful week, still recovering from illness. I had a few friends who wanted to try a runthrough race so I brought them along to do a 5k at Crystal Palace, they absolutely smashed it and I felt great that I had inspired them to take part in a race.
Soon after this came a bad week, my pace slowed right down and my motivation wasn’t there. I went along to a London burger run and plodded my way through a 15 miler uncomfortably. Unmotivated I struggled to get started the following week, managing 1 x 5k before attempting 18 miles on the weekend, luckily I had my lovely friend Michelle with me to attempt a long run. We did the same route I did to Greenwich previously but instead of 5k, I did the 10k run to complete my 18 miles.
Post each long run I over analysed my runs and lost all hope I would complete this marathon anywhere under 5 hours, some runs were an average of 11:30-12 minute miles, and the last few miles of each were such a struggled the thought of doing any more miles seemed only possible as a walk. I lowered my expectations of my race pace, tried to take the pressure off and just tried to get through the training as best as possible.
At the end of February, not confident myself I ran The Big Half with Amy, her first half marathon and a little tester of race day prep for me. The Big Half route is the first half of the London Marathon but backwards. It was a great well organised race, but towards the end the route was so dull and boring. On Marathon day, at least these areas are at the start of the race, whilst you are still on a high and hopefully still feeling quite good.
My next big challenge was 20 miles, for my own sanity and race preparation I had to run this alone. So I woke up one Saturday and plodded around London until I made it to 20 miles. The last few miles were the biggest struggle I’ve ever experienced with running. My legs just didn’t want to move, so I was surprised my average pace came in just about a 11 minute mile.
After hitting the 20 mile goal, the next challenge was just to keep myself motivated and keep up the miles, with a couple of more Long runs. From over analysing my long runs, I have made some adjustments and and taken these into consideration when doing a long run. After another 16 & 20 miler to complete my long runs this training cycle, I have a bit more confidence about race day. One of my biggest issues is the weather, it’s been snowing in the UK, cold and wet, so often times on a long run I end up carrying a backpack with layers in for any weather. Come race day, I won’t be running with a back pack, so it will literally be a weight off my shoulders and could potentially allow my pace to improve, even if just for 3 miles.
Now the main bulk of training is done, it time to taper for race day.
Ive tested my kit out a few times and I am happy with everything. I have a full day off work on the Friday before to have a little pamper so I personally feel my best for the race ahead. I want to get my nails done and eyebrows done so I feel a little bit more human during this big challenge.
I plan to visit the expo on Friday night with Leah, who is also running the marathon for the guide dogs. As Leah lives a bit further out of London she’ll be staying with me on the Saturday night, so we have a day of rest planned involving lots of Disney films and carbs, lots of carbs.
On the day of the race Leah & I will meet Shellie in the morning to head to the start line. I’m confident having these ladies around on the morning of will calm me and motivate me.
For the race exactly, the plan is to finish. No matter how fast or slow, there is only one goal. Of course I would love to finish under 5 hours but if it doesn’t happen, it just doesn’t. I really am not here chasing times on my first marathon. I’m going to smile, wave, high 5 everyone and say thank you to every volunteer. I will be running with music and have a playlist full of songs that remind me of inspirational people in my life. I’ll be thinking of friends who’ve not been able to run this race, or other due to injury, who are going to rest up and come back stronger, and mostly I’ll be thinking about food.
I am planning to take a little Social media break on the day of the marathon, I don’t want to constantly be checking my phone and comparing my time to others at the end, I want to enjoy the moment, document it, but share it later when I’ve absorbed everything.
I feel like my life has been on hold since training for this marathon. I haven’t had a drink since New Years or ‘let my hair down’ since November.
Immediately post marathon, I urgently need to get something in me. A high sugar drink, plenty of water and a small bite to eat as I need to settle my stomach. I’ve been getting really ill post long runs so preventing that takes priority.
Reunite with my family/cheer on any remaining friends still running!
Take pictures, enjoy my achievement and finally have a glass of fizz.
On the Monday, although we may be tired, Leah & I will be off to the Mayfair Spa for a day of relaxation, massages and afternoon tea.
On Tuesday I’m going to sleep in, then find my favourite food and eat so much and then off to the theatre to watch Aladdin.
Although it may seem like a lot post marathon, it will hopefully not be too much walking around, but I am glad to have something to look forward to.
TWO WEEKS TO GO
So that’s my training, and marathon day plan. If you’d like to follow me on the day you can my bib number is 48659.
You can also follow me on Instagram ( @megandaniella ) to see more on my training and running journey.