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Training for a marathon…differently!

For me, I have the fear of running a marathon, bad training experiences and problems getting to my last (and only) marathon putting me off – but I still put in my London Marathon ballot entry each year. I never really expect to get in. London was the only marathon I ever wanted to do and after watching a friend run it in 2019. I thought, even if I jog it round, I can enjoy it.

December 2023, the Canterbury Harriers (my home club) London Marathon Ballot was drawn and after 10 years of trying the official London Marathon Ballot and the club ballot, I got picked out the hat. I was shocked and very excited about it.

I already planned to come back to a marathon as for me, it was unfinished business. The idea was to run a spring marathon to get a GFA time to get into London for 2025. I want to enjoy London as much as I can so there will be only one goal – to enjoy it.

After training for middle distance Triathlon last year and not actually running more than 60 minutes in training and in long easy runs, it gave me the idea that I could run a marathon comfortably without doing the high mileage. I had a massive 10 mile and half marathon PB’s last year and I had never ran more than about 8.5 miles in training.

Yes my legs were in bits on these races for many days after, so I knew mileage was not in my legs. However, both times my heart rate was never near the max, in fact the half marathon I was running the first 9 miles in low zone 4 heart rate and as I felt good at 9 miles I pushed on.

What I found last year was that I was running less running miles but getting faster. I have always believed that smart training is the way forward and yes I was being smart as I wasn’t doing junk miles.

However, I was cross training more and spending more time on the bike so I could improve in that area for Triathlons. That’s my weakest area and for me and there is no point running excess miles for a few seconds gained at running as that’s my strongest area. Where I could gain minutes was on the bike, so it was a no brainer and I believe cycling helps with the endurance and your running cadence. So I was cross training more and cycling more. But what I found after my easy long bike ride, I was running and easy run straight after and this really made me stronger. I found I wasn’t as tired and the following day legs were fresh from easy training.

Taking this into account, this is how I will train for the marathon. Off the back of a ride, I will go straight onto a run and ramp the mileage up for a period and then decide the week leading to London how I feel I should run. I won’t be doing the excess mileage from the more traditional marathon planes. After all I am a Triathlete that’s raced in some Middle Distance races so I believe that training goes hand in hand for marathons. Many runners I know cross train and you can see when some are injured they turn to cycling but still produce good marathon times. For me I am building my endurance on the bike and I will build up one of my runs per week so I can get used to running longer. This may mean I might spend more time on my NoblePro treadmill straight after the bike ride as I can control the heart rate and pace easier.

….I will keep you updated after the marathon if it worked or not.


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