And so it begins….

It’s here, finally, after some time waiting for it to be here. It being of course Marathon Training!

It is about a month and a half now since I knew I was going to be doing the TCS New York Marathon in November, and there have been a series of weeks whereby I’ve effectively been biding time for it to start. ‘Biding time’ of course, still has to involve doing around 20 miles a week, on the simple basis that you can’t (or really really shouldn’t!) go from nothing to 27 miles in your first week of a training programme. I know that from very bitter experience having overtrained for the Great North Run a few years ago with very unfortunate consequences…..

My Great North Run injury….

But now, as of this very day (15th July 2019) begins Day One of a 16 Week Training Programme which culminates on the 3rd November in the New York Marathon. Week One, of ‘just’ 27 miles, is the shortest week of the whole programme, and it goes up to around 50 miles by Week 11. It will also be up to 40 miles by Week 4, so there is a steep ramp in fact. The programme was recommended to me by a five time marathon runner, and is from Runner’s World, so it is a tried and tested routine.

I am intending on sticking to it to the absolute letter if I can, injuries and unforeseen circumstances notwithstanding. There is for me otherwise no excuse, as I simply wouldn’t forgive myself if I got to the starting line or half way round in New York and couldn’t run the race because I hadn’t completed the programme. This remember is unchartered territory for me, and I didn’t (and in fact still don’t) know if my body will carry me around 26.2 miles. It is getting therefore my full attention.

My Training Programme (downloaded from Runner’s World):

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Week 1 Rest or 4M easy 4M steady with a few strides 4M easy 5M – run to a hill, then 8 x 30 secs uphill, jog down Rest 5M steady, cross-country or parkrun 9M slow
Week 2 (31-35M) Rest or 4M easy 5M – warm up, then 3M at a brisk pace, timed. Warm down. 5M steady 5M – warm up, then 8 x 90 secs fast, 90 secs slow Rest 5M steady, cross-country or parkrun 11M slow
Week 3 (34-38M) Rest or 4M easy 5M – run to a hill, then 8 x 30 secs uphill, jogging back down 6M easy 5M – warm up, then 5 x 3 mins fast, 2 mins slow (or 5 x 800m on track, with 400m jog recoveries) Rest 5M steady, cross-country or parkrun 13M slow
Week 4 (39-43M) Rest or 4M easy 6M – warm up, then 3M at a brisk pace, timed. Warm down. 7M steady. 6M – warm up, then 3 x 6 mins (or mile on track) with 2 min recoveries. Rest 5M easy 15M slow with 5M in middle at marathon pace
Week 5 (38-42M) Rest or 4M easy 6M – run to a hill, then 10 x 30 secs uphill, jogging back down 8M easy 6M – warm up, then 9 x 90 secs fast (or 400m) with 90 secs (or 200m) slow Rest 4M jog with strides Half-marathon or 10k race or timetrial
Week 6 (43-47M) Rest or 4M easy 6M easy 9M steady 6M – warm up, then 6 x 3 mins fast, 2 mins slow (or 6 x 800m on track, with 400m jog recoveries) Rest 5M easy 17M slow with 5M in middle at marathon pace
Week 7 (43-47M) Rest or 4M easy 6M – hill running: 11 x 30 secs, or fartlek with 12-15 30-sec bursts 6M easy 7M – warm up, then 4 x 6 mins (or mile) with 2 mins rest between each. Time them. Rest 4M slow 20M slow
Week 8 (37-41M) Rest or 4M easy 6M easy 7M steady 6M fartlek, inc bursts of 200-400m Rest 4M jog with strides Half-marathon race or timetrial
Week 9 (44-48M) Rest or 4M easy 6M fartlek, inc sustained bursts of up to 400m 8M steady – start slowly, finish fast 6M – warm up, then 10 x 90 secs fast (or 400m) with 90 secs (or 200m) slow Rest 4M easy with strides or parkrun 20M slow
Week 10 (42-46M) Rest or 4M easy 7M steady, starting slowly 9M steady 7M – warm up, then 7 x 3 mins fast, 2 mins slow (or 7 x 800m on track, with 400m jog recoveries) Rest 4M easy 15M steady, including 5M at marathon pace
Week 11 (47-51M) Rest or 4M easy 6M – hill running, 12 x 30 secs 10M steady – start slowly, finish fast 7M – warm up, then 5 x 6 mins (or mile) with 2 mins rest between each. Rest 4M easy, with a few strides or parkrun 20M slow
Week 12 (43-47M) Rest or 4M easy 6M fartlek, inc sustained bursts of up to 400m 9M steady 7M – warm up, then 18 x 45 secs fast (or 200m), with 60 secs (or 200m) slow Rest 4M easy, with a few strides or parkrun 17M easy with 5M at marathon pace
Week 13 (46-50M) Rest or 4M easy 6M – hill running, 12 x 30 secs 8M steady 6M – warm up, then 12 x 90 secs fast (or 400m), with 90 secs (or 200m) slow) Rest 4M easy 21M slow
Week 14 (38-42M) Rest or 4M easy 6M fartlek, inc sustained bursts of up to 400m 7M easy 6M – warm up, then 5 x 3 mins fast, 2 mins slow (or 5 x 800m on track, with 400m jog recoveries) Rest 4M easy, with a few strides or parkrun 15M steady, or half-marathon race
Week 15 (30-34M) Rest or 4M easy 5M – hill running, 10 x 30 secs 6M steady 5M with middle 3M at marathon pace Rest 4M easy, with a few strides or parkrun 10M steady
Week 16 (39M) Rest 4M – warm up, then 1M at race pace plus 5 x 200m. Warm down 4M easy, with a few strides 3M easy Rest 2M easy, with easy strides RACE DAY

The full programme is around 625 miles over the period, so around 40 miles a week on average. The schedule is up on the wall of my kitchen as a daily reminder of what is in front of me. And today being Day One it is actually a Rest Day (as although there is an option above of Rest or 4 miles, I’m taking the former every time!).

My partner in crime (or partner in running!), Melanie, who I’m doing the run with, is doing the exact same programme as me too. More on her, and my, progress as we go along, and a weekly update will appear right here – watch this space……..

It’s real, it really is!!

So I don’t even know how to begin putting this news down in print, but, in simple terms, the best way to sum it up is in this phrase: ‘She said yes!!’. Now before anyone gets carried away with the permutations or connotations of that statement, we are talking marathons here, and specifically the TCS New York Marathon 2019!

As per two posts ago, I have had this burning (in fact it was in flames 100 feet high!!) desire to do the New York Marathon later this year. This in turn was prompted by me being inspired by a certain someone who has done a few marathons herself, and also my belief that I could perhaps do one too. So, having asked her if she would join me in New York in November, and you now knowing the answer to the question like I do, then it is on!!

Image result for snoopy happy pictures

So this is how it made me feel 🙂

So having got the nod :), I’ve been in touch with (the so far amazingly great) 209 Events, who hold an ITO (International Tour Operator) licence to get people into the run. The condition of this is that you buy (as a minimum) flights through them too. The actual entry for the run itself is a pretty hefty £420 per person, but at this point I’m really not focussed on the cost at all. This is after all a trip of a lifetime, an adventure perhaps to top them all, and that means I just want it to happen really badly.

209 Events are run by a guy called Mike Gratton, who it turns out won the London Marathon in 1983, in a then British record of 2 hours and 9 minutes. They’ve been really helpful, responsive and informative so far, and so they got my vote when it came to booking. So yesterday was a day of booking flights and hotels and getting entries done etc. The result of all that is that we are in! Whilst the 3rd November feels still a long way away (168 days away in fact :O) I know it will fly by. I intend to make the most of the whole thing from start to finish.

More to follow in due course, but I needed to record this for posterity and for all time, so I can remember this time and this day!!


Where do I start?

So as an update to my post last week, I am still awaiting confirmation of whether the Marathon is happening or not. It is 100% happening in my mind, and my desire to do it increases almost hourly, but as I’m waiting for confirmation from someone else as to whether they are doing it too, I’m in limbo, a bit. That’s frustrating (and that’s possibly the understatement of the century!) but it is what it is, and it will be what it will be.

A bit of light bedtime reading….

I am in the meantime very indebted to the various people I am getting good advice from. It’s great to get such encouragement and people telling you how incredible they find it that you are even entertaining the idea. Maybe they find it incredible that I am contemplating it at all, who knows, but it is all positive so far :).

I’ve also had some great help from a work colleague, Esther, with whom I run with at lunchtimes at work from time to time. Esther has done a great job of encouraging other people in our office to get from the couch to do a half-marathon, and sacrifices a lot of time and her own running time to do so. That’s really as inspirational as it is admirable, and she is also already helping my journey too. Yesterday she brought into the office a veritable library of books for me to borrow, dealing with almost every aspect of running, from the physical to the theoretical, the down and dirty to the esoteric. and as I have a thirst for knowledge I could be buried in books for some time……….:)

I cannot however bury myself in theory for too long. While it is important, there is nothing to beat getting out there. Strava tells me that I have run 268 miles this year so far, which is a (not bad for me) 14 miles a week on average. I’m currently (the last two or three weeks) at about 20 miles a week, which whilst a decent base, is nowhere close to what I will need to be running in order to get myself over the finish line.

The tale of the tape as at 14th May 2019…

Most training plans I have seen seem to go up to around 50 miles a week, and that is a massive (and daunting) amount to say the least. On top of the effort to do the miles themselves, is the time. That is about 9 hours of running, plus the faffing and changing, showering and what have you, so you can probably double that. So 80 hours plus a month, over 4 and a half months (most training programmes are 16 – 18 weeks) just to do the training. Gulp!

But even before that, I have to keep up my base fitness, keep doing at least the 20 miles a week, and then choose which plan to stick to. I have downloaded 5 so far, and while they are broadly similar, they differ by number of days, amount of miles, how hard you go, what you supplement your long runs with etc. I want to get the right balance between motivational, and doable, without being too taxing. I will stick to any training programme as long as it isn’t too hard, as if it is I will not succeed. I’m at the point where I now for the first time in my life am starting to actually enjoy running, and I don’t want to take the fun away altogether. Having said that, I know the next few months will be tough, very tough at times and I have to make sacrifices, but that’s all good – I am up for it completely.

So for now, let’s be patient (hard for me, as this is all as massive as it is massively exciting), and hopefully get my news through and my booking made. Then the hard work starts. Watch this space…….


So after way too much inactivity, the blog is back, and the above title says it all. Yes, indeed, I’ve decided that I need to do the Big One. And not just any Big One, but New York. Go big or go home, as they say!

Why, I hear you say? Why, at my very (and some would say over!) ripe old age, do I decide to suddenly do a marathon when one has never been contemplated (or thought possible, especially by me!) before? Good questions!

The answer is twofold. One, in short, is that I really, really, badly want to. I have for a couple of years in fact, but I didn’t think I was physiologically capable, and now I do. Secondly, someone (and you know who you are 🙂 ) has inspired me into it. And that’s actually the best reason of all. I’ll cover that latter point in a subsequent blog post.

But before I get too carried away, I need to ground myself. 26.219 miles is going to be hard. Ridiculously hard in fact. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years, is that if you put enough, and the right, training in, you can get there. So that’s exactly what I’ll do.

I’m lucky in one respect, in that because I’m so anal about these things, then if I have a training plan to follow, I’ll follow it to the letter. It’s how I’m wired, and also that attitude allows for the fact that I have a fear of failure. And I thus have a training plan, or three in fact, and they have been scrutinised intimately for variations, difficulties, and the like. They are hard yes, but not daunting at all. The reverse in fact is true.

These things (by which I mean running full stop!) do not come naturally to me. I couldn’t run any distance at all over about 400m when I was young, my asthmatic physiology just didn’t allow it. But over recent years, despite a bit of a major mishap with two broken heels a few years ago when overtraining for the Great North Run :O, I’ve steadily built myself up to being able to do distance ok. I have a best (this year, in the Vitality London Big Half) of 1:48:58 at the half marathon, and have run 14 and a half miles as my longest run. I’m therefore never going to be great, or quick, but that’s not the point. I can keep going, and have enough determination, I hope!

In short, if something is good (by which I mean exciting) enough, and you want it enough, I do it. And I throw myself into it, and that’s what I’m doing here.

The marathon is to me the ultimate test of endurance, and also the most inspirational thing to so many people, even those who (very much like me until this year) thought they would never even think about doing one.

I also realise before I even embark on this that marathons take over your life. This one already has my attention for about 23 hours and 57 and a half minutes of my day for example, and I haven’t even signed up for it yet! But I do know from speaking to others who have been through it, that your eating, drinking, weekends, emotions, relationships and so much more will all be affected by it. But they are all containable, and they will all be dictated to by the extent of your determination. And I can honestly say that I have never (at least at this moment in time) been more determined to do anything, ever.

And mentioning emotions – I’ll talk about that in future posts, but it’s something I know I will have to control, especially in New York, the biggest of them all. When I did the Great North Run last time, I got such an overwhelming head rush of emotions after about a mile I thought it was going to completely consume me. My heart was beating so fast that I had to just slow down and think of anything but what I was doing to contain it all.

And the reason in the here and now as to why New York? Well that’s because at the moment of writing (early May 2019) it is the only one of the Big Six that I can get into. I’ve entered the ballot for London next year too, but that’s a lifetime away, and also around half a million other people have as well. My chances of getting therefore are a bit slim at best. And, being the impetuous sort, when I decide to do something I do it!

And of course New York is a city I love. And it’s an adventure. It’s hilly. It finishes in Central Park. It’s the biggest marathon in the world in terms of people and crowds (and I love that). It’s the City that Never Sleeps. It’s probably the most famous city in the world in fact. It’s HAPPENING, in every single aspect of the word 😀

So this is the start. I have a training plan, I have the desire (in absolute abundance). I have a travel company who can get me into the event and the whole shebang. I’ve even, for goodness sake, resurrected my blog after three years of inactivity – now that’s a sign if ever there is one! All I need now is someone to do it with……………………… this has to be shared. And so, watch this space, because that’s the gating factor right now. More to follow (I hope and trust) very soon 🙂