Undertraining panic 

I’ve done four marathons so far, and on the first three I improved progressively. The first one, London, I had massively undertrained for, had a deservedly gruelling race which I walked bits of, and finished in 4:20. New York I trained hard for and, while it was painful at the end, I finished in a pleasing 3:49, a nice improvement that shows training pays off. I trained hard again for Paris and had a great run where I hardly wished I was dead at all, and finished in 3:36, my PB to-date. And then… well, then I had to teach myself to swim so I could do an ironman, I started spending more time on my bike, and I went on an eight-week course where the fitness requirements were more focused on upper body strength and very short runs or longer hikes with weight. About 9 months after Paris, having not run more than a couple of miles in months, I foolishly agreed to do Portsmouth Marathon with a friend. Suffice it to say that I was given another useful lesson on the importance of training, and I had another deservedly horrendous race, with a time well over 4 hours. Ho hum. (Somewhat in my defence, it is a slow race with a few choke points, but that doesn’t change the fact that I had to stop and walk large chunks of the last six miles).

So anyway, now I have San Francisco marathon looming on Sunday. I had planned to train hard and have another good race, and started well, but travel, work and some illness have rather derailed my plans and now I’m staring down the barrel of a major marathon having not done any serious running in nearly a month. Fuck.

Anyway, we’ll see how things go on Sunday but, for interest, I thought it might be fun to look at an overview of my training for each of the marathons I have done, in terms of mileage in the 16 weeks preceding. I don’t have any data for London unfortunately as I didn’t have a garmin back then and logged my runs on MapMyRun which I really can’t be bothered to delve into. I also often don’t log short runs I do at work, or other training like gym sessions or treadmills, but nevertheless this is fairly accurate. The charts below are miles per week, counting back from the first week of training (week 16) to the last week before the marathon (week 1). Not sure why I did it in that order. Now I think about it it doesn’t make much sense. Oh yeah, and the races are kind of in the wrong order, as New York came before Paris, but I cba to go back and re-do it all now.

Training Diagram.001

A few observations:

– The training for Portsmouth was abysmal and I deserved to suffer, but it doesn’t quite represent the fact that for a lot of that time I was actually doing some pretty serious physical exercise, I just wasn’t running with a Garmin. To a (much) lesser extent, the same applies with the last few weeks of the San Fran training.

– Most of my training is pretty insconsistent, and not that high: I rarely run more than 20-30 miles a week and often a lot less, and even in my best training plans I’ve had 0-mile weeks. I must do better.

– San Fran training was actually going petty well and fairly consistently for the first ten weeks or so. That’s when I hit the really long runs, which often seems to knock my immune system enough that I get a mega-cold and have to take a week or so off to try and recover enough to get back to training. That happened, plus our beloved Mayor announcing that London air is so polluted that I couldn’t do my usual run home without risking lung cancer, combined with some work pressures and some holiday, and it all went a bit wrong. Meh, excuses excuses. I must do better.

Anyway, I love a bit of data crunching, but let’s see how it actually translates to a time on the day.

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