Friday, 7 November 2014

Three marathons in three months summary

Three marathons in three months completed, the challenge I had myself as a physical ambition before my 30th birthday, my aim that I have worked towards for the last eight months, finished, completed, all done and dusted.

Three marathons in three months has certainly been tough and challenged me which is exactly what I wanted, OK so it's nothing when you compare it to other marathon challenges you might have seen in the media over the last few years such as Eddie Izzard's 43 marathons in 51 days, Amy Hughes running 53 marathons in 53 days and Rob Young currently aiming to complete 367 marathons in 2014

These accomplishments are well ahead of my own and all deserve so much praise and recognition for their incredible physical achievements.

So how do I feel now that my focus for so long is now over?

On the one hand I am pleased to be able to relax and not be concerned with the demands of training. On the other hand I feel disappointed and empty to not have something to work towards at the moment, I am definitely in a typical post marathon slump experiencing some post marathon blues. 

Don't worry though I am already making plans for 2015!

I am planning a 10K in January so I can focus on getting stronger and faster over the winter months to be able to then put in a speedy race in the new year and make a competitive attempt at breaking by PB!

Aside from that I am also aiming for at least 3 marathons next year and these are likely to include Halstead, South Weald and Vanguard Way again and who knows what else....

Here is a recap on my three marathons:

1/2 - The Vanguard Way Marathon - 3rd August time: 4.55

Race report here

In summary a great run, with terrific scenery exploring an unfamiliar part of the country with some tough hills and terrain. My training and preparation was good and during my training I had established a good card loading fueling strategy for the race which worked well. Obviously getting lost (not once, not twice but three times!!!) really frustrated me and curtailed any chances of a competitive time. I am fairly confident that without the detours I could have ran a time of around 4.30. Realistically this kind of event with its tricky terrain was never going to be about PBs and it was more of a run about enjoying the scenery and the challenge of the course which I feel I did on both counts.

2/3 The Robin Hood Nottingham Marathon - 28th September - time: 4.10 - PB!

Race report here

A proper large scale mass participation city marathon such as this is such a different proposition to an off road trail run and in honesty not one that I enjoy as much. Although it was a relief to run on nice flat tarmac roads where I could just get on and run rather than worry about steep hills or muddy conditions underfoot. 

My training had progressed well since the first marathon and although my challenge was a marathon every month the timings of the first two meant the gap was actually 8 weeks so I had ample time to recover and then kick on with my training again. 

Although my diet and nutrition were not as strict as they had been in the build up to the Vanguard marathon I had trained hard and felt I had progressed well. However the week or two before I really didn't feel good and struggled to train and was not in the greatest shape on race day. Over training, illness, mental/nervous/anxiety issues, poor diet/nutrition or a combination of some or all of these I am not sure. 

The race itself went really well though and I put in a solid performance which I was pleased with aside from the PB time which of course was very satisfying.

3/3 South Weald - 27th October - time: 4.34

Easily one of my most enjoyable events, in terms of the route, the scenery, my performance and my overall race experience. A really tough route that rates as the second hardest course of the five marathons I have ran so to come away with my third faster marathon time and my fastest off road marathon time felt really rewarding. I definitely noticed an improvement with my marathon running and my mid race strategy and mental planning. 

The magical sub 4 hour mark

As well as the challenge of completing three marathons in a relatively short period of time and keeping up with the demands of training over a several month period my real goal was to try and break that magical sub 4 hour mark. 

Although in my second marathon I managed to smash my PB by 16 minutes to a time of 4.10 the elusive 4 hour barrier was not to be beaten. The main reason for this however is not my fault as the first and third marathons in my challenge were incredibly demanding off road trail marathons which are the type of events that are PB black holes. If all three marathons had been on nice flat roads and if I had performed in the same way I think I would have been pretty confident of running a sub 4 hour marathon as I improved my training and continued to get stronger and gain a better understanding of the marathon distance. 

Performance wise my marathon running over the three marathons definitely improved, in comparison to the other two marathons I had ran prior to this challenge I feel my third marathon of this sequence represented my best running performance of any marathon I have ran.

So what now?

Well I have rested and reflected and I am now itching to keep running to maintain my current fitness levels as well as working on getting even stronger and fitter.

I plan on working on my strength and speed work over the winter, I plan on becoming very accustomed with my new training partners Mr Lunge, Mr Squat and My Burpee. 

I haven't entered any races as yet and am eagerly planning what events to enter throughout 2015. I hope to manage o fit in at least three marathons along with a couple of half marathons as well as maybe venturing into the world of ultras and longer events.

First stop is going to be a 10K in January so I can put my winters strength and conditioning work to the test.

Watch this space for more running challenges and adventures on the horizon!