The silence of the past 2 weeks has not been due to any more illness (thankfully) or lack of running (well.. not really - more on that later) but rather due to my applying myself and some of my trusty blog readers to choosing a training plan to use to ... train for the Amsterdam marathon on October 21st, for which I have now officially registered!
So - it's all happening. The incredibly impressive ShirleyPerly - who runs marathons the way normal mortals drink the first coffee of the day - quickly! - sent me a long e-mail regarding choosing a training program. She makes a number of excellent points, which I will briefly summarise below (for the benefit of at least some of my readers (you know who you are girls!) who are going to be training at the same time..):
- there's no such thing as a "sure thing" training program. Dang! Easy option out the window right there..
- then she launches straight into her most crucial point: the best program you can pick is the one that is least likely to get you injured and most likely to help you deal with your performance limiters..
OK. Performance limiters for me are:
- genetics. I lost the excess weight, my BMI is great BUT I'm still a short sturdy diesel. My great grandfather was a (very relatively) famous long-distance skater and one of the most famous things about him was, apparently, the fact he had big thighs.. What can I say, it's obviously a dominant gene. My point is - I am somewhat limited by the ingredients I was given. Paula Radcliffe need not look over her shoulder.
- lack of speed. OK - some of that is to do with the above point but, in fairness, I have never done any serious speedwork. I did find in the past that I put myself at the risk of injury with really fast speedwork but there is quite a bit I could do in this area..
- time. Like most of us I have a busy life outside of running and I can't always devote the time and attention to running that I might like to. I think I pretty much give as much time to it as I can get away with.
- fuel. I have never really thought about my athlete's diet as I never really think of myself as an athlete. But there is no doubt that what I eat affects my running and recovery and that I could do more to fine-tune that relationship. Hrmmm..
So bearing all this in mind I have bought the book that Shirley recommended - Pete Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning. While I was waiting for Amazon to get it to me I read an article on the Runnersworld website by Amby Burfoot about the ingredients of marathon training and how many runners don't train very efficiently. They run too fast or too slow and so never maximise the benefit of different kinds of runs. Now that I have received the Pfitzinger book I see he makes pretty much the same point and has put together what looks like a good if challenging marathon training program. I think I'm going to go for the 18 week program and add 2 weeks onto it - there's one week during my vacation this summer where I may not get all the running in and I'd like to build in a week for life - tiredness, illness, injury - so that I don't completely fall out of the program if something happens.
Now - my running. After a dispiriting run with Sally last Sunday - we were aiming for 12 and I had to give up after 9 I was so tired, the rest of the week has been good. I've been pondering my tiredness but I think it's just that - life is pretty exhausting at the moment and I'm really going to have to concentrate to get enough rest to train for this fall marathon. My spirit returned to me on Monday - I was determined to lick the 12 miles and did it. At a slow pace - I also think I've been running a bit fast with Sal - I managed it quite easily. And then the rest of the week was good - even managed a lactic threshold and pace run as well as 2 5 mile maintenance runs. Heading out for a 10/12 miler with Sally tomorrow in preparation for next Saturday's White Peak half-marathon and that should bring my weekly mileage up to at least 37 miles. 37 miles! No wonder I'm feeling a bit tired in the evenings..
Otherwise running is proving a bit of a haven for the mess in my head. I was listening to Adam Tinkoff's great new show - the Zen Runner - and he was talking about seeing your mind as a river and what you did to calm it down. Well, at the moment mine is a big stormy river and all that seems to calm it is running. I'm heading towards a new phase in my life - 2 kids at school in September - and I'm wondering what I'm going to do with myself. I have done various bits of odd freelance work in the past years but nothing consistent and suddenly I'm wondering whether I should be pursuing more of a directed course. I won't bore you with my CV but I'm a Jack of all Trades, mistress of none. I've done graduate studies, worked in academic publishing, worked in IT - and now I'm at a bit of a loss as to where to go next. My head is swirling with the voices and opinions of others (which I ask for, to be fair) and my own self-doubt. If this all sounds depressing - it isn't - just a confusing time. Which, strangely enough, is leading me back to a reappraisal of running for its own sake - for the way in which it can take me out of myself and bring me some peace and strength and confidence. So, to finish this post - the running's going great..