Amanda’s Marathon Training

Welcome to Amanda’s blog of how her London Marathon Training is going! Below are the first few excerpts following her journey from being told she has a place in the marathon right through to now. So far Amanda is on track and getting the work done….

14th November 2019 

They all told me,  “I’ve been trying for years to get a place via the ballot. I’ve been trying for 15 years without success.” So, confident of not getting a place, I dutifully submitted my form.

Six months later, the results are out and it’s like waiting for those O level results all over again.

OMG……I have an e-mail saying Congratulations, you have a place in the 2020 London Marathon.” I read it again, and again…….it definitely says congratulations, not commiserations. I am in shock! They all told me there was no chance!!!!

Everybody is congratulating me, but I haven’t even run a step yet.

So, 164 days from now I will be participating in the London marathon. The shock has subsided and reality is setting in. Did you know that only 1% of the population will run a marathon ?

I’m 56 years old, I’m size  XXL, I only started running last year and I’m slow, boy am I slow. On the plus side, I have swum 3 marathons (10k is classed as a marathon in swimming terms).

Now for the practicalities:

Step 1 – booked accommodation near the finish.  I’m told I will be in pain once I’ve crossed  the finish  so  the shortest distance to stagger the better. Those that have participated previously, tell me despite the pain, it’s a fantastic experience.

Step 2 – Started looking at training plans and there are dozens of them. So, decided to sign up with a coach at my club instead. She will produce a plan specifically for me, and I am accountable to her for the next 163 days! No cheating, everything goes on Strava.

Step 3 – I’ve signed up with Asthma UK to run and raise money for them. I am an asthma sufferer myself, so seems like an obvious choice.

Step 4 – I’m going to do it dressed as a runner ! No Big Ben costume, no chicken outfit, although a colleague has suggested I could hold a competition for people to suggest my running get up as a fund raiser. Thanks but no thanks! It’s going to be hard enough in running kit. However, if I could get hold of a pair of those trainers that make you run 26.2 miles sub 2 hours ………

Step 5 – begin training plan. Most plans are for 16 weeks, which takes us to January. I’ve decided I need to start now. So, as I write this I’m on week 2 day 3. 2k swim this morning and 4 x 1 mile tonight with a walking recovery inbetween.

Ok, so I’m not going to be breaking any records. I’m aiming to get round and make the most of the opportunity that I’ve got. Nearly half a million people applied for less than 20 thousand places.  What I lack in speed, I can make up for in determination and plain stubbornness ! This winter is going to be tough – training when it’s dark, when it’s cold, when another half hour under the duvet seems like a better option, but injury permitting I’ll be out there, plodding the streets.

If anybody does read this or is also participating your advice is welcome!

27th November 2019

Today marks 150 days until ‘the day’. It is also week 4 day 3 of my marathon training plan.

I am starting to get used to the shocked look on the faces of colleagues when they discover I am taking part in 2020 London Marathon.  To be fair, I don’t look like a runner. Most people would have me down as a shot putter….you get the picture.  However, as I am finding, runners come in all shapes and sizes. I only started running last year by joining a Couch to 5k programme. Almost bottled it on the first night, but now am so glad I got out of the car instead of driving home.

For anybody who says, ‘I couldn’t do that’,……O yes you could ! If I can do it, most people should be able to if you stick to the plan and get to 5k.

So, weekly mileage is now up to 22 miles – not all in one go thankfully, but spread across the week in small chunks with a long run on a Sunday.  The long run distance jumps to 8 miles. However, not as bad as it sounds as coach says to complete it as 8 minutes running 2 minutes walking. This allows technique/form to be maintained whilst not becoming completely shattered.

Last Sunday, my long run involved running around the racetrack at Silverstone. Traffic free I’m pleased to say and great opportunity to run on a smooth surface with no bumps or potholes. For any petrol heads out there, range of distances starting with a mile, so definitely achievable – set yourself a target for next years event.

This week’s running not quite so glamorous – back to the dark damp streets dodging the dogs and their owners plus the local youffs riding bikes on the pavements with no lights. Don’t they have homework to do? I now have an extensive range of neon coloured clothing for such events. You’d be surprised what you can get in neon yellow ! 

So, as you drive home have a thought for the neon cladded runners and please don’t drive through the puddle as you pass them !!

 11th December 2019 

It’s getting closer – Christmas, the Election, Strictly final, Sports Review of the year and the marathon. Less than 20 weeks to go and 20% of my training plan completed. Disappointed at not being in the BBC’s final six……maybe next year.

Bit of altitude training last week. I was visiting a friend in St Ives accompanied by my training plan. For those of you who know the area – most routes involve hills! However, did manage a flat parkrun in Camborne (Heartlands). Total mileage for the week – 23 miles, which doesn’t even add up to a whole marathon. In fact, it’s a park run short of a marathon!

As 26th April gets nearer, so the task of what I’ve set myself becomes ever scarier. Never would I have believed 12 months ago that I would be training for a marathon. 26.2 miles in the car is a long way and I’m going to be running it allegedly. On the plus side, I’m not going to be alone – another 39,999 are scheduled to be there. I’m definitely not a front runner, and having taken part in a number of events, there is lots of comaradery towards the back, where the plodders and the fancy dress tend to hang out. I was overtaken by a man dressed as a banana once! I did manage to go past him later in the event.

It was nice to be able to run in daylight for a few days. Running after work in the dark, dodging the evening dog walkers and party goers can be tricky, although some routes are now lined with giant inflatable snowmen/elves/reindeer and a range of flashing lights.

Some of the illuminations will possibly be an all year round feature.

On the news this morning, you may have heard about some research suggesting food packaging contains details of how much exercise you need to do to burn off what you’ve eaten, which could give a whole new meaning to ‘I’m popping out for a pizza’.

If your workplace is anything like mine, I suspect the tubs of Celebrations (other chocolates are available), mince pies and associated nibbles have begun to appear. As an ‘athlete’ in training, I am trying to avoid.

23rd December 2019

Seven weeks of my training plan has now been completed, it’s getting harder and my weekly mileage is creeping up. Already run 80 miles this month and still just over a week to go – training doesn’t stop for the festive period.

I’m now running 5 days a week (not consecutive) and the recent inclement weather has brought with it some new challenges !  Tuesday was fog and ice, Wednesday torrential rain – which as a glasses wearer causes major visibility issues, particularly in the dark ! Car drivers seem to take pleasure in seeing who can create the most water spray by driving at speed through the standing water. For anybody who remembers It’s a knockout…….. Substantial amounts of rain = slippery grassy areas and mud. You’ve guessed it – I managed to fall over in it. I told the passing dog walkers, I was filming the new persil advert.

I realise over the next few weeks, weather conditions are likely to get worse so I guess it was just a taste of things to come. It would be easy not to put the trainers on and go out. However, how do I firstly reconcile that with myself and secondly explain to my coach that there is a blank week on Strava? If the plan says there is a run to be done, it has to be done. As a friend of mine often says ‘Man up woman and get on with it’

On the plus side, we’ve passed the shortest day, so more daylight hours. The festive break from work also means I can train during the day. This includes 25th December, when like thousands of others I will be participating in a Christmas parkrun. Johnny Wilkinson always used to train on Christmas day and it didn’t do him any harm.

For the more advanced runner, marathon training will begin in January . They will be joined by all those who have pledged to get fit in 2020. Not all of them will make it to the end of January. 

Eliud Kipchoge (the one who ran a sub 2 hour marathon recently) has recently announced he will be running 2020

London marathon. What a privilege to be able to say I took part in the same event as him. Bear in mind, I won’t even be half way round by the time he finishes. However, it does illustrate the wide range of abilities that will be participating in the event and that even people like me can set it as a challenge. We will all be covering 26.2 miles, just that some of us will take a little longer.

 6th January 2020

Happy New Year everybody – how are those resolutions going?

I’ve noticed a definite increase in runners and cyclists out and about over the last week – let’s see if they all continue. On top of that, numbers at my local Parkrun are also up. Saturday morning brought over 300, 2 and 4 legged participants to Worcester Pitchcroft.

For the more experienced runner, London marathon training begins this week. I’ve just completed week 9 of my plan and don’t know where those 9 weeks have gone. The weeks and miles are racing by and M day (26th April) is less than 17 weeks away, which is a terrifying thought. On top of that, first injury has cropped up – knee problems. To be honest, I’m surprised I’ve got this far without any niggles. However, have spent the last couple of days following the RICE principle – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. My crazy brain being what it is, starts to panic  – if I miss a few days training I won’t be ready for a marathon. My theory being that if it’s on my training plan, it has to be done. A few days have passed and my panic has subsided – RICE seems to be doing the trick, and after seeking permission from my coach, have walked my training runs over the weekend.  Again, the strange way my brain works – walking only allowed if coach gives permission.  So. 7.30 Sunday morning I began a 10 mile walk with a few short jogs thrown in to test the knees. 10 miles completed, no major after effects and back in time for most of the Archer’s omnibus!

Training has now moved into ‘Strength and Stamina’ phase. This means weekly running mileage of 30 miles each week – short runs are no longer what I’d class as ‘short’, long runs are almost half marathon and more strength building exercises are being introduced. I still find it hard to believe what I am actually doing and the challenge I have set myself. For years I have watched London marathon in awe, never for one moment believing that I would ever be participating.  

14th January 2020

Joined by Storm Brendan for training last night – first night back on the track this year. Brendan brought rain, cold wind and sleet to the proceedings, which I’d rather he hadn’t!  However, despite this everybody completed the session, some even removing a layer or two.

Following my knee problems of a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been nursing them back into action. I’ve been ‘running’ in the pool after my swim based on the theory that it worked for Red Rum. (For younger readers he was a famous race horse.). The closer I get to April 26th, the less I can afford an injury. I was able to complete my long run last week, without major problems, so fingers crossed they continue to repair.

I continue to worry that I’m neither good enough or quick enough to be taking part in such a momentous event. After all, they are not meant for people like me are they? My coach Sam assures me I’m doing OK, I’m following my plan to the letter so I have to believe. However, she did say last week , no way would you ever catch her running a marathon!

Sam tells me, I’ve now started the intensive phase of my training, although I thought that had started a number of weeks ago. As a first time marathon runner it’s all intensive! This weeks plan is as follows:

Monday – Swim + Club night training

Tuesday – Swim + Strength and conditioning session

Wednesday – Swim + 5 miles

Thursday – Swim + 6 miles including quicker 1.5 miles in the middle

Friday – Swim only

Saturday – 11 miles including Parkrun

Sunday – 5 miles

As runs get longer, so fuelling and hydration become  considerations. On top of that timing of consumption to avoid running on a full stomach and onset of cramp.

Not content with attempting a marathon, I’ve already signed up for some additional challenges later in the year. Why ????? I’ve got Liverpool Rock and Roll half marathon in May (great event with music every mile). Broadgate Tower half mile stair climb in July and I’m in the ballot for September’s Great North Run. There are all sorts of events out there and anybody can participate.  I’m highly unlikely to trouble the leaders, but I’ll still get the medal !

 Watch this space for the next instalment of the blog…..


1 Comment

  1. Yvonne Brookes (Bonnie)

    Well done you, what an achievement you will smash it on the day, so proud of you

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