You find me one week out from my first marathon. The hard part is done. (Or so I keep telling myself).
I have that interesting cocktail of excitement and nerves. I am excited to get to a new country, and explore with the team, but there is also that little prospect of 42km to do.
The second 8 weeks of my training plan were about increasing and then maintaining volume of running, They have been about building confidence and of course increasing distance.
The last 8 weeks have also been about life – I have fit in holidays, birthdays, social events and 70 hour working weeks. Sometimes fitting it all in has been tough and sometimes running has been a big relief. Training can be the thing I can control when everything else feels like a whirlwind.
Things I learnt training for my first marathon
It is 70% commitment/determination 15% planning 10% physicality 5% luck. And 100% privilege.
I truly believe that anyone can run a marathon. Forget about times and speeds, completing a marathon is as much a mental challenge (if not more so) than it is a physical challenge. If you put your mind to it, you can do it.
Set yourself a weekly mileage goal, and meet that however you want. That could be a run every day, every couple of days, split into two shorter runs a day etc. the format is almost irrelevant, aside from completing a few set sessions a week (e.g. hills, track).
I did not find the marathon training as difficult as I expected. My approach has been to be steady, and to run lots (sounds simple right). Having a fairly relaxed plan, that involves running most days, with a few specific sessions a week, has allowed: my body to become used to running and training and to get fitter, making each run easier and recovery quicker; and meaning that if a run or session does not go to plan or does not happen, it is not the end of the world, because the next one can be better. I know that some people choose training plans that involve 3 set sessions a week, and although you can train for a marathon that way, I personally do not find that to be the most effective method. Not only does the body not adapt to running as well, but it puts a lot more pressure on each of those runs to be effective.
Do not neglect your feet. Invest in a good pair of shoes (or a couple of pairs).
In the words of Eliud Kipoge – humans are not limited.