I am going to attempt to follow a training plan.
Now you might have assumed that that’s something I do all the time with all the races I partake in. Errr…no. What I normally do, is just go out and run, sporadically, doing my best to slowly get within the ballpark figure of the distance I’m going for.
However, there are two slightly dodgy things with this method.
Firstly, it’s very haphazard and relies on my being organised, and second of all, this kind of ill-discipline will not help me when it comes to trying to train for a marathon, as I know from past experience. Therefore, I need to try and get some good habits going now.
If you don’t know, a training plan looks a bit like a school timetable, with a very limited variety of subjects. This Hal Higdon plan is a good example, and it is actually the one I’m going to follow, because I’ve booked myself on to a 10K race in November. Except that I’m not, quite.
Am I backtracking before I’ve even started? No, hear me out.
You see, no-one realistically has an empty schedule that they can just slot these runs on the given days. Even people like me, who don’t work full-time or have kids cluttering up their headspace, have stuff happening. That’s why I’ve circled (oblonged) the bits that I think are important, and the bits that I will endeavour to do, each week, although, maybe not on those days.
The other issue for me is that this 10K is not my ‘A’ goal. My next year’s September Marathon is. So I want to keep some of that fitness that helped me get to the end at Caernarfon while, at the same time, trying to get a bit faster over a shorter distance.
With that in mind I did go out for a gentle two hour run this morning, with a view to not worry about distance, but keeping that time on my feet. And it was all going really well until my bladder starting protesting at around 7.5 miles, and there were just no suitable locations for having a wild wee.
It had been gently trying to get my attention from around mile 3, but I knew there was a community centre in Thornton Hough that normally had its doors open. And they do. From Monday to Friday. Still, I carried on, to do my little loop around past the Wheatsheaf pub, where I found a bunch of people in leathers buffing up their bikes for a little meet of the Wirral Harley Davidson Riders. They were very friendly, but what I should have done was check out whether they had any conveniences available. Instead I gawped admiringly at their shiny metal stallions and took a few pictures before setting off again back.
It was nice to pass the kids doing their football drills on the fields there on this still very warm autumnal morning. It could have passed for a summers day, only I was crunching down on the conkers and acorns that were scattered on the ground.
Heading past the village, my bladder piped up again, still politely, but with a little more urgency, so I tried to find a cut through into some paths by woods and farm fields hoping for a quiet undetectable spot. But no. It seemed that every dog walker in the land happened to be passing the same way.
In the end, by just under 9 miles I had to give up any more attempts at running, and walk back the rest of the way because the jiggling was just too much. If it had been a rainy day I may have risked it, but the blue skies were everywhere. I was just lucky that my pelvic floor exercises had come good enough to get me home.
So where was I? Oh yes, training plans.
In my opinion, as a total non-expert in these things, I need to have at least one long run on my weekly schedule, ideally with a route arranged around a loo stop. I also need to do those alternating fast runs with fresh legs beforehand. Plus I want to keep going with the Thursday cycling group as much as possible, so that can be my cross training – 2-4 hours, as opposed to Hal’s 1 hour.
So my training plan (old school – biro, highlighters, tippex and the side of a postcard), looks a tad different. I’ve got a few actual races in the mix: the Cross Country season starts soon, as does a series of runs for local clubs called the Borders League. Plus, my local Parkrun celebrates its 300th event in the midst of my training so that can’t be missed, though I may not give it the same kind of effort as the week before.
However, it is a plan, of sorts. And my aim is to tick off the boxes, and not put any failed crosses in them. It doesn’t start for another week but I’m excited, and nervous, because I’ve not got the greatest track record, but, if I can do an 8-week plan, there’s hope I can follow the big 16/20 week plans for the marathons next year.