London Marathon 2018 – Self-Prescription
Finally I am my own case study once again, feels great. Self-prescription is a novelty for me as a performance coach committed to my clients programme success. But even practitioners need to train like anyone else, counteracting the negative consequences of hours in front of a laptop, to at least maintain some respectable ability even if it means just riding or running with clients. Training for bike racing can take significant time, and hence why I sacrificed competing when I founded CPS. At that point I was still training with some structure, although I started to focus more on running as this was both informative for understanding training prescription for duathletes or pure runners, as well as being less time consuming for the returns on performance.
So after a couple of years of little training structure I am once again targeting my personal best marathon time which has remained fairly consistent over the last few years 3h08’10” at Chicago 2008, 3h08’01” Boston 2011 and more recently 3h 07’17” at Venice 2016. These consistent times may only reflect maintaining good aerobic fitness with age, so they won’t capture the effectiveness of a training strategy or volume especially with the variable nature of race day and the build up to that, taper, sleep, nutrition, hydration which often affects performance. The Venice result was definitely assisted by relying on the accurate pace reading on my Garmin Forerunner 230 as my training volume was almost half of that for Boston, not to say it didn’t hurt. So with a solid marathon effort more recently under my belt, London 2018 is fast approaching and is very exciting! Time permitting I hope to post a few blogs about my training and what it takes to attempt to run sub-3hrs on an unfamiliar, yet flat course.
As a bit of a prelude, I have managed to maintain a low volume of running (20km/week) since Venice, with several hilly 20km this year at marathon pace rather than maximally paced efforts. This I believe, should have worked well on my efficiency towards the end of the summer, as I was recovering quite easily for that distance. For the last few weeks I have focused on interval training and some strength work, which will continue into the new year, before I increase the long runs and overall pace. In fact, I have reduced the speed right down to 30 sec off target marathon pace (4min/km) on many of the long runs which has allowed me to focus a greater volume of VO2 work (approx. 15% VO2 and 5% Anaerobic Sprint work) and polarise my training even more so than previous training. This also allows me to not worry about hill-training too much as London is flat, and strength work comes from the resistance sessions I fit in between which should allow for more impactful sessions with more energy and power. Something I have also unfortunately neglected whilst developing my business, and is difficult to regain.
For Venice my longest run was only 26km, I also pace-set a half-marathon in the preceding August with a client, the frequency of my workouts were consistent, although I was still cycling now and again. For London, I have more or less stopped cycling to become a pure runner (except for a short ride here and there at moderate effort). Being more discipline specific is a slight concern, especially when riding becomes uncomfortable with previously similar ability cycling buddies. This will be transient and typically allows for rebuilding of cycling capacity more fully post marathon and target the ball-buster in November 2018.
Another change to my London marathon programme has been to join a running club, not only for motivation and a change of training routes but also compare notes. The Wimbledon Windmilers running club, as expected has its own dedicated coach, Trevor De Silva, delivering advice and coordinating event specific sessions for multiple members of varied ability. Even performance coaches should share thoughts on appropriate sessions and workout selection, this tends to work particularly well being the subject, and helps understand how a second perspective can bring another level of objectivity. Trevor is himself an accomplished athlete qualifying for the Olympics and running a marathon pb of 2h34’. We have established an on target time of 2h52’ (which was also my predicted Boston time although that didn’t go to plan for reasons which I will elude over the coming posts), as well as strength/ weakness profile that increasing the volume of work in the VO2 zone would provide the appropriate conditioning, if the right strength foundations are in place. Running on the track allows me to be more precise with zones and duration, much like a turbo trainer for the bike with a power meter. So every Thursday I run an easy 8km to the track, conduct a solid interval session of 400m, 800m and 1200m combinations…perhaps only 4/5 total and then try and get home in one piece. So far, this seems to be working out pretty well as part of my other training. Performing a timed 3km trial test on the track (as it’s difficult for me to self-administer lactate tests) resulted in 10.47’…which is considerably less than my normal 12min time for a 3km loop near home….again the track giving psychological advantage and a greater ability to pace. Although that has been consistent with my last couple of park runs coming in at approx 17.15’ for the 5km.
Introducing these new advanced elements along with some experienced objectivity from Trevor will definitely be a fascinating learning experience, taking onboard notes from failure in previous marathons and implementing their practice. I am also keen to see how I respond to a slightly more consistent running volume with a greater number of 13-20km runs, rather than a ramped load with increasing duration and intensity as I have always started to deteriorate quickly due to the build stress. Timing a ramped training load is always tricky and requires extremely accurate…. timing!, even to within a couple of weeks around the event date. Having run at marathons in other countries, there is the added influence of time zone differences which can play havoc with sleep cycles for the few days prior, maintain the right sort of nutrition, the logistics of moving around a new city, transport from airport to hotel and race pack pick-up can all impact on race day form as athletes should be looking to conserve as much energy as possible by staying off their feet and building crucial freshness.
You may follow my LM2018 training on Strava, and even join the CPS in-Motion Strava club here. I hope to post milestone updates in the coming weeks with the build in distance and a couple of training races; the 26km Kingston Breakfast run and the Hermes Thames Meander Half Marathon in March. As of today, Christmas Day, my 9km hilly route time is at the top end (slow) of the range, 37.46” on a windy day, after a couple of weeks of quite hard intervals and at 4kg more than my usual race weight which is a good thing for any multi-sport athlete who puts their body through gruelling efforts. That time would usually be quite disturbing to see this close to a marathon, but again needs to be put in context of training focus. I expect to put a pb of almost 4 minutes quicker on that same route by the end of February/ early March. Time shall tell….
Merry Christmas, gotta run!