March 2020 Update

A rare non race update from me these days, not that there is likely to be many races to report on in the foreseeable future due to the Coronavirus outbreak.  It was always going to be touch and go whether I would be ready for London Marathon as I have only been able to train again towards the end of January, but only really doing any focused work towards the end of February.  Its been a strange period as I have always been able to train, but never felt I was in a place to do any longer work that is key for a Marathon build up.  I therefore entered the Stafford Half Marathon a couple of weeks ago to give me some proper data, but also because I could foresee that if I didn't race then, then there was every chance that it would be my last opportunity this side of summer due to the virus outbreak.  As it turned out I ran 68.24 and whilst not a PB it was a far harder course and I felt much stronger at the end of the race.  The data told me I would have been ready for London and all systems were go, but as it turns out we'll never know now that the race has been postponed.

Coronavirus - The threat to society as we know it.

At the moment there is no real plan and I assume most other athletes are in the same situation.  We simply have no idea when the next race will be.  However, one thing is clear and that is I am far fitter than I give myself credit for and this is simply a by-product that my biggest critic is myself and my overly pessimistic approach to running.  As previous blogs have detailed I do a lot of running on my treadmill - I'm really lucky as with the current lock down I am still able to train more or less as normal.  I have never been a group runner, in fact I don't think I have ever trained with anyone else.  I also race so little that unlike many other runners I don't need them to keep me sharp.  For all intents and purposes its business as usual for me.  I know it probably isn't appropriate to say it, but I will anyway - from a competitive point of view I'm probably in a better place than most as I have a treadmill at home that I know how to use to extract maximum benefit and more time than ever to train.

I'm now starting to believe that I'm actually in better shape than ever.  The few extra pounds I was carrying a couple of weeks ago have gone and the evil treadmill sessions I've devised don't feel as hard as they have done in the past.  As an example:

Bournemouth / Valencia
15 * 4 min @ 11% 13.4kph @ 1 or 2%. 2 min recovery @ 13.4kph @ 0%
60 mins @ 16.1 kph
50 mins 13.4kph increasing by 0.1kph every minute

4 * 15 min @ 11% 13.4kph @ 2%. 2 min recovery @ 13.4kph @ 0%.
60 mins @ 17.0kph
55 mins 13.4kph increasing by 0.1kph every minute

My Noble Pro Treadmill.  For some reason the speeds are much harder than the equivalent on my previous Pro Form.  The garage has now been redecorated and actually looks like a gym!

Taken in Feb 2020 - an almost finished gym!

Some subtle differences but the biggest difference is that I feel these sessions are getting markedly easier to the point that I feel I need to make them harder.  I feel fitter than ever and if there was a Marathon in the next month I truly believe a sub 2.20 is realistic.

The last couple of weeks have given me some time to think about what my goals are going forward.  I think there are two obvious goals for me:

  • Sub 2.20 marathon.  I am even beginning to believe that with a fair crack I'm physiologically capable of much better than this but am reticent to suggest a specific time!
  • V40 all time list (i.e. sub 2.21.40 August 2021 when I turn 40).  Secondary goal to run sub 2.20 which would place me c.20th on the all time UK records, 18th in England and 3rd in the West Midlands.
As always talk is cheap and with my recent history of injuries it could all go pear shaped tomorrow!  Talking of injuries I'm carrying the usual niggles but in the main I've been able to manage these - I've had the knee niggle at the turn of the year which thankfully has now more or less gone.  A couple of calf niggles, but not to the extent that I've had to crack open the ice pack.  A groin issue in the last week, probably caused from me messing about trying to dislodge a stone in my trainer whilst running.  Perhaps most worryingly an ankle bruising in the same place that put me out of action for c.18 months - but thankfully it hasn't gone any worse.

In the longer term I'm attracted by the idea of an ultra - either a 50k or 100k.  I'm pretty certain that I would probably be better at these distances than the marathon due to my endurance and ability to 'lock into' a pace.  I'm also into the idea of the Marathon des Sables as in my university days I was very much into Mountain Marathons such as the OMM (KIMM) etc.

Whilst we live in uncertain times as things stand I've met the qualifying time for a potential England selection at either the Toronto or Frankfurt Marathon come October.  For reasons I've already explained I don't think I have much chance of selection, but I've told the selectors I'm ready and willing.  However, the most likely outcome is that probably the events will be postponed so we may never know.

In the meantime I hope everyone readying this blog stays healthy and safe.


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