The Next Attack At Sub 2:45 Will Be….

Those who follow my progress on Strava (which, is not many) will have noticed the past couple of weeks have seen two or three runs where the term marathon HR has been mentioned. The desire to test my marathon pace has not been out of idle curiosity, although I’ve always valued the positive training merits of a good marathon paced training run. For the past month or so I’ve toyed with the idea of taking part in an Autumn Marathon – something I’ve never done before.

Normally the early autumn months for me are where I target a half marathon or two. This year, because of the way the F1 calendar has panned out, all the best options for a quick autumn half have been ruled out. I was banking on being able to take part in either the 2015 Manchester or London Marathons, but with the provisional 2016 F1 calendar revealed I can do neither of those, so a spring marathon looks unlikely.

So, with the recent flush of unprecedented good form surely representing my best chance yet of cracking the hitherto elusive sub 2:45, I’ve made the decision to enter an Autumn Marathon. That marathon will be the 2015 MBNA Chester Marathon, held on Sunday 4th October, which was twelve weeks away at the start of this week. There are other marathons available at that time of year but, based on highly positive reviews from runners whose opinion I trust, and having sung its praises to others who have gone on and entered, I thought it only right that Chester should be the marathon of choice.

That makes this week the first week of marathon training. I’ve made a decision that unlike my previous attempts I’m not going to train specifically for the marathon. Instead I’m going to continue broadly on the lines that I have been doing for the past couple of months as they seem to have yielded great results. This is, broadly speaking, a diet of cycling; elliptical trainer and other gym CV equipment; the odd swim; and, of course, a fair amount of running. There is no grand twelve week plan, more a macro day by day, week by week, training intention based on how I feel – which worked very well for me this time last year.

Normally the opening weeks of training would be lots of long slow runs building up mileage with the odd marathon paced run thrown in. However, the coming weeks and those just past have seen me enter a few shorter races, which require more speed specific training. So there has and will be more interval sessions than normal (with marathon heart rate runs playing more of a role than the Rotterdam 2014 effort) and less focus on working towards big weekly mileage. I anticipate a lowering in volume for a week or two over August with holidays, before working towards the early October marathon with some long runs hopefully thrown in somewhere.

So far this week training could hardly have gone better (running wise anyway). Monday was meant to be an interval session of 3 minutes at half marathon heart rate and 3 minutes at marathon heart rate, x6 with a recovery in the middle. I was relying on a workout I devised on the Garmin website and transferred to my watch. Suffice to say it didn’t work out as planned (Garmin got very confused) and so I just ran eight miles at marathon HR after a two mile warm up. The ten miles was clocked at 6:02 pace; the 8 miles at marathon pace worked out at an average of 05:44.

If I, by some very unlikely chance, was able to replicate this over a marathon, I would come home in 02:30:13. What is more plausible is that, if I stay injury free and healthy, 06:17 miles will feel much easier than they ever have in a marathon. Indeed my easy HR runs have seen me running just a few seconds slower than 06:20 pace, so indications are very good.

Tuesday saw the only blip of the week where I was meant to take part in a Witham Wheelers time trial, but punctured just as I was ending my warm up. Thankfully a very kind fellow club member took pity on my total mechanical ineptitude and fixed the tyre at an unbelievably fast rate. It was though just a tad too late to take part in the time trial. I decided to save my energy and run a revised Wednesday long run of 14 miles, mostly off road on trail or the canal path from Woolsthorpe to Grantham, where I took off at marathon heart rate and closed each of the final six miles in sub six minutes. Truly unprecedented times for yours truly.

Yesterday was a glorious club run in idyllic conditions again over a mostly off road route to try and get me in shape for my first half marathon of 2015 – a trail race in Somerset in a couple of weeks time. It was one of those evenings where it felt truly great to be out running.

This morning saw a sweaty two hour effort on the elliptical trainer, a relatively easy effort ahead of this Sunday’s novelty sporting activity – a hilly sportive in Yorkshire, which I am looking forward to and dreading in equal measures. For now – rest after a very good six days of training.

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