Last sunday morning, I, along with thousands of others, got up for 8am to run 13.1 miles in the Half Marathon bit of the Edinburgh Marathon Festival.
I have to say, compared to last year, this time round was a very different experience. Definitely less pain this time round.
Last Year: Chris Hoy Half Marathon 2010
Last year, I started training just before New Year and discovered how much I loved running in fresh-fallen snow (no, really, its awesome, if you haven’t done it before, make sure you get ready for it this winter). But by the time mid-April came, my knees were in a pretty bad shape. In my eagerness to ensure that I ran all the way, I had over-trained a little bit too much – regularly doing 30-40 miles a week. In the lead up to it, I relaxed a little in the hope that things will heal and get better. It did. Sort of.
In the race itself, my right knee seized up after mile 2. Not wanting to give up, I just hobbled and did my best to keep on running. It was a sorry sight. All I thought about for the next 4 miles after that point was 1) how much pain I was in and 2) how much I would pay for painkillers. (Pitching workshops that included phrases about paying for ‘painkillers’ took a whole new meaning.) After mile 6, the knee finally loosen up. Miles 10 – 13 were a real struggle: I remember having to pinch myself occassionally so that pain signals were diverted from my feet to my hands. Still, I finished in about 50 secs outside what I thought I would do.
This Year: Edinburgh Half Marathon 2011
This time round, I only trained 4 weeks prior to the race. Granted, the biggest advantage from last year is that I’ve dropped at least 10 pounds since then, so running on the knees was much less stressful.
In the weeks leading up to it, I followed a similar pattern of training from last year: short, medium, short, long runs. I tried to up my mileage to around 20-25 miles per week. Here is roughly what I did:
Week 1: 3, 5, 3, 7 miles
Week 2: 3, 6, 3, 9 miles
Week 3: 4, 8, 4, 11 miles
Week 5: 3, race
Despite the different race, the course itself was pretty much the same as last year. This time, there was no overtraining, and it was all good until about Mile 12, which was the real “plod, plod, plod” moment. I struggled until I could see the finishing line, and got an extra boost when I saw Sicknote who waved me on finish.
I managed to knock 5.5mins off the time last year.
The marathon …
This week has been a week off. The plan is to train in cycles – going from 13 miles to 20 miles, then a little time off, then go from 20 miles to 26 miles. Why do it in chunks? Well, I find that running long distances is partly about mental state and concentration (i.e. preparing yourself for it) and also about not over-training. In other words, I need to put in the long runs, but I don’t want to go overboard either.
Incidentally, I’ve been following the training plans from A Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer - which is highly recommended.