I was really looking forward to the peak week of my London Marathon training. The past 4 months have been really fun and the running I’ve done enjoyable and the thought of putting it all together into a week of the hardest/longest sessions gave me some confidence rather than fear.
Last year when I was training for Dublin I had only one long long run, an awful 19 mile run that included every bad run experience you could imagine. I knew enough to shake it off for race day, but it didn’t give me much confidence to build on. This year I had two 20 mile runs in my schedule and hoped they would go better. The first one was a bit of a surprise. I did a 19 mile trail run with my run club on a 17 mile week and that was fun and while not easy, gave me as much confidence as that previous 19 mile run took away. As the second 20 mile run in my training came up I came down with the London pollution-death cold and was knocked out for 3 days and walking wounded for 3 more days. Rather than stress about missing the 20 mile run (and a bunch of others in my schedule) I spent 3 days in bed and let resting do its thing. I hear a lot of people getting worried when they’re sick about missing training. If anything it’s your body telling you you SHOULD be missing it so you’re lucky the message is loud and clear. I don’t believe the head up/chest down thing and think if you’re ill stay and rest until you feel better. Simple.
The week post-sickness I took as a build-up week and planned a 15 mile long run with an 8 mile loop, a parkrun tourist trip, and a 2 mile run there/back knowing I could stop at any of those points if I didn’t feel 100%. Turns out after the 8 mile loop I stopped at McDonalds for some delicious porridge & jam (trust me it’s great) and that powdered me through the next 7 miles.
With peak week off to a good start I had a great swim session on Monday with my friends, a strong track session Tuesday (enjoying it so much I forgot how many laps I was running), an easy river RUNch on Wednesday (singing Taylor Swift the whole time), and did my tempo run as a commute to/from my weekly pilates class as I had the day off work. Friday morning I tried a hot yoga class (so so so sweaty) and had the best carb load meal ready for Saturday: 20 mile day!
Feeling good if only a little tired in the legs, I set off on one of my favourite run routes along the canal to Limehouse, cut across to Canary Warf and then through the foot tunnel to Greenwich. I thought it would be nice to see the Thames Barrier so went down that way (into the headwind) for a few miles – took a selfie – and then ran back (again into a headwind somehow) towards the city. I enjoyed running along south bank and didn’t feel like cutting back towards Canary Warf so kept going along the Thames path. Knowing that Waterloo was 9 miles away and I only need about 6 it made me think I was getting a good deal or something.
At mile 19 I decided to try to run the last mile a bit faster and managed to run 30 seconds faster than my average which felt good and when I stopped I felt happy to be done, but after a quick body scan felt like I could keep going if needed. THAT was a new feeling as anything above 17 miles has felt like the maximum before now. Unfortunately, I ended somewhere near Blackwall, and with the Overground not running I had to walk the 2 miles to Tower Bridge to get home. Not the worst for marathon prep and gave my legs a bit of a shakeout before collapsing on a priority seat on the tube.
2 solid days of recovery* after that (*Easter chocolates and Netflix marathons) I felt pretty good. Tired & still a bit stiff going down stairs but happy that peak week went well and that with 3 weeks until the marathon the miles were in my legs and I could go into the taper weeks with confidence.
I’ve seen a lot of panic on social media about people running too much or not enough. I understand that it feels like a huge unknown and I don’t want this blog post to come off as a “woohoo look at me and how great my training has gone” because it hasn’t all been that way. I do want there to be more positive stories out there about consistent, even, feel-good training rather than the panic-stations that seem to clog up my twitter feed.
Whether you’re in your last few weeks of training or starting up for a race in the future, be confident in your body and listen to it in the present. Don’t worry about what you’ve done or what is upcoming on the plan. Your enjoyment and performance on race day will thank you.