The Calm Before the Storm / The First Rumblings

by mphcrawley

‘How’s your marathon training going?’
‘Not too bad so far, thanks. I’m only five days in though.’
‘Really? What was that you were doing for the last few weeks then?’

To the untrained eye, there isn’t that much difference. Before I started marathon training I was running twice a day. Now that I’ve started marathon training, I’m running twice a day. The mileage is only slightly higher. The sessions have changed, though, and my long run is going to get intimidatingly long.

Last week I had a ‘rest week’, only running 5 miles a day, to get ready for a ten week training block which will , if all goes to plan, put me in with a good chance of running a decent first marathon in London. It gave me time to ponder the first typed-out and colour-coded training schedule I’ve ever had. In the past I’ve been lucky if I find out what I’m doing in training the day before, and frequently been told what I’m doing on the track when I’m standing ready for the first rep to start. For the marathon, though, my coach decided it would be worthwhile to be able to see the ‘big picture.’ And it is quite a big picture. There’s nothing overly intimidating in itself, but I do expect the cumulative effect of ten weeks of sustained hard work to get to me. Distance running, as Renato Canova says, is about ‘how much fatigue can you do?’ I think I’m about to find out.

I felt pretty fresh coming into the week, but that only lasts so long when you run 18 miles in two hours on Sunday then fourteen miles on Monday and a track session on Tuesday. The big session for the week was a ten mile acceleration run, which I did in 55.40 with the first 3 miles outside six minutes and the last two in 5.08 and 4.58. I was relatively pleased with that until my coach told me he’d once done the same run in 51.30, even though the first mile was outside six minutes. I’d always been under the impression that ‘acceleration run’ meant a gradual picking up of the pace, but I think for him it must have meant ‘jog a mile, then hammer it.’

Final word to Bruce Tulloh: ‘It’s when people start to ask, “Are you alright?!” that you know you’re getting fit.’ I am for now, let’s see how the next nine weeks unfold.