In the final week before the Virgin Money London Marathon, Anna, Veronica, and Jess from the LDN Brunch Club give their final update on marathon training.
I have an ongoing Achilles injury that’s been a problem for me over two years now. In previous years, I’ve ran two marathons back-to-back (Barcelona + London, Boston + Big Sur, Tokyo + London) and I always pushed through the injury but struggled throughout and didn’t really manage the issue very well.
For this marathon, I’ve been really mindful to tailor my plan to get some good training under my belt whilst not causing myself any further injury. As a result, I haven’t done as much mileage or ran as frequently. Instead, I’ve been more strategic with my training, putting in plenty of strength training and physio throughout and mixing my running with cross training too.
Last month, I put this plan to the test in the Valencia Half Marathon. Rather than racing it and trying to get a PB, I stuck to my marathon pace and worked on my race plan to run a negative split – starting at a slower pace that I gradually increased to cover the second half of the race faster than the first.
The race was fantastic and really helped to quash nerves and reservations I had about the upcoming Marathon race day. This month, I’m heading to the US for a 10 mile race in Washington DC, which I plan to take at a relaxed pace to enjoy the day and my final race before Virgin Money London Marathon is here!
One of my favourite moments of this marathon training cycle was going to Valencia two weeks ago with the LDN Brunch Club to race in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. I love traveling and it was great to explore the city via running, to meet fellow runners from all over Europe, and to spend time with my friends in the sunshine.
I’ve had hamstring and IT band issues flare up in the last few weeks, which had hampered my longer runs, so it was a good opportunity to test how my legs would hold up at the marathon halfway mark and to test out race-day fuelling. I was super pleased to have run a new half marathon PB — paced for the last four miles by a member of Run Fleet Hamburg, who helped me finish strong with negative splits — and I am hoping to channel that momentum through to Virgin Money London Marathon race day.
Running in Valencia was a great reminder as to how important your mindset is. Running a marathon is challenging, both physically and mentally. Each one of us has the grit, tenacity, and ability to push through when we set our mind to it, but, when you run happy, that’s when the magic happens.
I think training has surprised me in a good way. I didn’t expect to feel as focused and committed as I have done and found the most part of getting up and going for a run really enjoyable. Obviously, the weather has been challenging on some occasions which is to be expected whilst training throughout winter. Now that it’s starting to warm up a little, I’m loving it again.
One thing I wish I’d learned more about during training is nutrition and refuelling. I didn’t train with gels on my long runs until half way through my plan and I didn’t think too much about how my busy life would impact the training plan. Some days when I’m working late hours and not eating as well as I should throughout the day, I feel exhausted in the morning and those runs have been hard. Nobody warns you about the work/life/training balance! It’s definitely something to take into consideration when deciding to run your first marathon, although for me I know all the training will definitely be worth it – I can’t wait till the big day.
The most challenging part of training has been the long runs, mostly the 20 mile run. I think the mental battle when running alone for such a long time was the hardest part to overcome. There were many times where I felt like giving up and turning around but I had to keep telling myself that this was the final push before the marathon, and when I finished I felt a real sense of achievement. In a way, it was my most challenging yet most rewarding part of the whole training experience.