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Edinburgh Marathon training: Weeks 1 and 2

May 7, 2012

The view across EdinburghWhen I ran the 2012 Virgin London Marathon two weeks ago I set myself the main target of running a new marathon PB. I toed the line feeling relatively calm, perhaps because I had a B race up my sleeve in case it all went wrong. In the event, the race went very right and I took about 4 minutes off my PB.

Which leaves me with Edinburgh, reputed to be one of the UK’s fastest marathons. On paper it sounds like an opportunity to build on my current levels of fitness and go for another PB. But then comes the weird and wonderful world of marathon recovery.

The oft-repeated rule around recovery is that you should have a day off for every mile you raced, which would leave me with 26 days of recovery from London. Personally, I think that rule is a bit arbitrary, but after the last two weeks I’m willing to concede that there’s something of merit in leaving a reasonable time for recovery.

So, in the first week after the marathon I managed two runs – two very slow runs – covering a total of 14.3 miles. I felt okay when running, but when I finished each run my legs seized up. (Well, perhaps “seized up” is a bit strong; got very stiff is more accurate.)

No pressure, I thought, and took the rest of the week off running. I decided to make a commuter run of the following Monday, which went well and I felt much more like myself. On the Tuesday I was trying out a new route for Home Run (Liverpool Street to Stratford, starting Tuesday 14 May, sign up here), which was easy going in pace, but I found running with my laptop harder than I had expected so caught the train home from Stratford. On Wednesday I decided to make up the miles I missed the previous day with a hard run around Oxford, which went well until I got to mile 7 and my legs started to tire. Then I was back to Home Run on Thursday, making a round trip of 14.2 miles. However, the final three miles of that run felt like a real slog.

Taking the message from my body on board, I had a couple of days off and then set out for a long run on Sunday. I wanted a steady-paced 20-miler, and it looked achievable for the first 9 miles which were all comfortably around or below 7-minute miling. But then – despite no pain or any of the other usual symptoms – I started slowing. I took a gel at 12 miles, and then another at 15 miles to try to get some energy into my system, but to no avail. I made my sluggish way back home to a hot bath and an easy evening on the sofa.

So, two weeks after the marathon and I’ve clocked a 62.5 mile week. It’s not been comfortable and it’s not been pretty, but its miles under the belt. Reflecting on the runs now, it at least seems that the crunch point has been hitting later and later, so my body’s recovery is making progress – just not as fast as I would like.

We’re now three weeks away from Edinburgh, so bizarrely enough I should be thinking about tapering. Since the taper is all about letting your legs recover from training, that’s probably no bad thing…

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. domholdsworth permalink
    May 8, 2012 1:28 pm

    Love it – you’re starting your taper for Edinburgh during your post-London recovery. That sounds like my kind of training – i.e. not much. Note to self: run c.one race per month and there’s no need to take any other exercise. What could go wrong? D.

    • May 8, 2012 1:55 pm

      I’m sure I read somewhere about a guy who ran a marathon every weekend. He’d take the rest of the week off for recovery, so his races were his training. Not entirely convinced that’s healthy, but I can certainly see the merits!

  2. Pedaling Square permalink
    May 8, 2012 2:48 pm

    Lewis what are your thoughts on maintaining the distance of your runs (long 20+, short 7-10) from now on? I.e. maintaining peak mileage of a marathon training schedule for months at a time.

    • May 8, 2012 3:10 pm

      It’s an interesting question – there are some people who swear by maintaining super-long weekly runs. The guy who holds the marathon world record for a 70-year-old (forget his name, he was on Marathon Talk a while ago) goes for weekly three-hour runs, clocking up about marathon distance.

      In the past I’ve thought about trying to keep up 20+ mile runs beyond marathon season, but I think my body can only take endurance drubbing so long during the year. That said, I’m going to have a couple of regular 14-mile runs a week, which should keep my endurance relatively high.

      If you’re able to keep up that kind of mileage, then go for it – I’m sure it would pay dividends by the time marathon season rolled around again. But I suspect it’s difficult to balance that kind of volume with really high quality speed sessions, which might mean you reach a plateau…

      … or at least that’s part of my reasoning for focusing on much shorter distances (5k to 10k) over the summer once Edinburgh’s out of the way.

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