A blog from Matthew Potter, Implementation Manager at Life & Progress (Sept 2019):
From Couch to Marathon in 88 days
Just to be out in the open “It’s more like 3-mile struggle to Marathon” but that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it…
A bit of a back story, I have been running very inconsistently at a maximum of 1 (maybe 2 at a push) run/s per week of which I would either get bored or run out of breath. Fitness and endurance has never been a strong point for me and not something I enjoyed working on or improving.
But anyway, 19th August I decided to book on for a Marathon, not just any Marathon but a trail Marathon… in the Brecon Beacons! This is a slight issue, as living in Coventry doesn’t quite possess the vertical varied landscape I need in order to train for the terrain. But, I’ll worry about that closer to the time. My priority now was getting a training plan sorted, so I found a couple of training plans online, downloaded them, picked them apart, mishmashed them to create a training plan which I was happy with and confident I could follow through.
Every week has 4 runs, 2 rest days and one cross training day (which I would spend most days not training).
- Week one – My first run was 3-miles, second was 5-miles, third was 3-miles and last run was 6-miles. The first 3 runs went well, steady pace and felt good. The 6-mile run though was pretty horrific. Coventry isn’t known for its weather but 28° tells a different story. I was underprepared, didn’t bring water out with me and I paced it all wrong. I made it about 4.2-miles before stopping under a few metres of shade to rethink my life decisions. The rest of the 1.8-miles resulted in a walk, hobble and crawl. I was annoyed at myself; this was the first run I felt I should have done better but I didn’t take into consideration how much the heat would impact me.
- Week two – 3,6,4 and 8-mile runs were on the agenda this week. I wasn’t in the best of spirits because of the 6-mile run last week. On Wednesday I was happy to have another crack at the 6-miles. The weather was cold and rainy which I preferred, I smashed the distance and felt good. The remaining 2 runs again were completed. Once I sort my early pacing out the distance isn’t too bad, although the audiobook I listen to does help me plod through the distance.
- Week three – 4,6,4 and 10-mile run. My first run of each week is usually a low intensity run, so I completed the 4-miles and started the walk back to my car. I have been reading up on the 4-minute mile… in order to achieve this you must run a quarter mile in 1 minute. I knew in my head “don’t bother trying this Matt, just stick to your training plan because you’ll hurt yourself”. Obviously I ignored this sound advice and decided to see what my pace would be like. 1 Minute later and my dreams of a 4 minute mile had been shattered. As I slowly walked off the damage to my pride and dreams, low and behold my body thought it would be time to chime in with aches and pains but more importantly a nervy lower back pain that has niggled me for years cropped up, so my evening was spent slathering deep heat into my back. It probably made little to no difference, but any excuse to smell deep heat was an opportunity worth taking. I continued the weekly plan and the aches subsided, so the deep heat was placed back into the drawer (I had mixed emotions to say goodbye to it). The last run of the week was a 10-miler. You don’t realise how far 10 miles is until you’ve pretty much ran from one side of Coventry to the other, only for my watch to still say I had further to go. I winced and hobbled the last few yards yearning for the watch to vibrate and end my self-inflicted suffering. It did, I sat on the curb and took off my hydration bag which had been trying to suffocate me throughout the run, then plucked up the energy to walk home. When I got home I realised my toe nail had been bleeding so I had blood in between my toes which was wonderful sight. But I reached my weekly goal, this is where the real Marathon training begins.
- Week four – 4, 6, 4, 11-mile runs. I recently changed up my diet to a Keto Diet designed to use fat as a main fuel source rather than carbs. I was expecting a slump in performance but this week was very poor. First run is a low intensity one anyway which was fine, 7-mile tempo run felt harder than it should, my next 4-mile run I should have done at a normal pace but I decided to make that a speed run which was ok. Then the 11-miler… I had a new hydration pack because my previous one was too big. I didn’t bother adjusting the clips as it seemed a good amount of tight (which I liked when standing around my house), however I think that slightly contributed to what a rough run it was, as it was that tight I felt the pressure on my chest breathing in. I had low speed and energy, stomach pain and niggles in my legs. I performed so much better last week so it was annoying but sometimes we have them days. I pushed on through and ended finishing the run (which took 2hrs…). I think I need to rethink the diet, and my race strategy. Having zero nutrition on these long runs was killing me!
If you are into fitness, running or indeed participate in running Marathons, I hope you found the build-up to my forthcoming Marathon worth the read. Look out for future posts from me and how I get on !