Mo’s Month in Running – April ’23
Where do I begin? After deciding a couple of months back to undergo one of my biggest running challenges and finally attempt a goal (one I had sarcastically set myself when I first started running), the culmination of all of my training has led me here.
The final five weeks leading up to a marathon are tough, and for me, four of them were done while fasting. I think for me the hardest part of it all was not being able to test my fueling while out on a long run. The long runs themselves were gruelling but that was to be expected, but having to go into my race post-Ramadan without a fueling strategy nailed was always going to be interesting. The body in general feels up for the challenge and I am always looking for new ways to push my body to its limits, for I truly feel that without pain there is no progress; within reason.
The pain I have put myself through this month has been a lot of marathon pace work, or floating 15 seconds on either side of that – as well as still ensuring I hit rather long distances. I tallied around 80 -100 km every week and 1 week out from the marathon I will be reducing that greatly to about 30 km to allow the legs to taper and recover before the big day.
In those 80+ weeks, I have done a couple of easy-to-steady runs, ranging from 60 – 90 minutes. Then a couple of interval sessions anywhere between 15 – 30 km. These would either be progressive where I would start slower than marathon pace and end my run quicker than marathon pace, or they would be alternating intervals where I would spend time at marathon pace, quicker than marathon pace, and slower than marathon pace over the duration of the run.
I think these sessions really gave me the confidence I needed to attempt the race, as being able to progress to a pace that’s quicker than my race pace, after spending 20 km at race pace meant that if I end up starting the day slower than expected my legs have it in them to speed up and hold a quicker pace for a decent chunk of time.
It is also so important to sit at race pace for distance so your body gets used to the strides, and you find yourself checking your watch far less often but still being confident you’re running at the speed that you need to be.
What I think I like most about marathon training, or running in general is that you can’t fake it. To complete the 26.2 miles on the day, you must have put in the practice hours beforehand. The distance itself is grand and anyone that attempts one knows the training and time it takes for your body to adapt is hard work. Hard work which we can always look back on and be proud of.
My biggest learnings:
- Running with friends is infinitely easier than running alone
- It’s okay to make adjustments to your plan depending on how you feel, not every session is going to be the best
- Consistency trumps intensity
- Don’t pick an especially hilly route when attempting an interval session where nailing paces is crucial
What’s next on the cards for me? I try to leave that question fairly open. My goals are very one at a time. I try not to set too many as they tend to distract from each other and you end up spreading yourself too thin. So as of now, my sub-3 marathon attempt is front and centre. And if for any reason I don’t happen to achieve it, then that remains my number one goal until I do. On the other side of it, I will definitely set a new target. It might be speed, it might be distance, or it might be just getting up and enjoying my runs in the sunshine for a bit before deciding on another challenge. Whatever I do decide to go with, know that we will be taking you along the ride every step of the way!
You can find out how Mo got on here (spoiler alert):