One of the things I’m finding hardest while training for the marathon is judging just how much is too much and how much is too lazy.
On the one hand, you’re trying to tell when your body is actually tired; when pushing yourself further won’t do you any good. When that pain isn’t gain, but the beginning of an injury that will hang onto your shins and slow you down for the next two months.
On the other, you need to know when you just can’t be bothered; when that heaviness can be overcome by pushing through. When that pain isn’t really pain but your mind trying to convince your body to give up too soon.
When it comes to judging your own performance, while asking other runners for tips can be useful, using them as a benchmark can be disastrous.
For example, I asked to look at the training plan of someone else who is prepping for the London Marathon and, having seen it, immediately panicked.
His rota shows that he’s running every day, with double sessions three times per week – perhaps one day off in seven if really needed. That’s 10 runs per week. How on earth am I meant to finish in any decent time on my regime of just 4 runs per week?
But after making frantic plans to jettison my friends, boyfriend, alcohol and fun from my life, I came to my senses. The biggest reason my 2016 was so frustrating? Injury. How did I get injured? Lack of strength and upping my mileage too quickly. What did I need to do this year to avoid that? Well, you get the picture – running 10 times a week might make me feel better right now, but I’d be injured and out of the race entirely in 3 weeks flat.
4 runs a week mixing up hills, speed, tempo and long runs, increasing mileage gradually as the months go on. At least 2 strength sessions per week, concentrating on improving my glutes and core stability. Yoga twice a week to stop my hamstrings contracting beyond rescue.
It’s not flashy, it’s not impressive, but it should see me over the finish line.