Since the Great North Run ballot has been announced and I got in, I felt it was the right time to talk about my training for my upcoming races this year concluding with the Birmingham International Marathon in October. It will be my first marathon and I decided to undertake the massive challenge as I really wanted to push myself.
The idea to run came in October last year when I completed the Birmingham Half. Unexpectedly I found the half quite easy and it made me think whether I should push and do the full marathon. I had also completed a dualathlon and triathlon through GoTri and this had given me the confidence to push myself. Hence in January I decided to bite the bullet and enter the Birmingham International Marathon, I have no desire to ever do another one, I just want to see how I get on and raise some money at the same time.
My running history
As a kid I was always good at cross country running rather than track, living up to my personal mantra of slow and steady wins the race, and I represented my school in cross country when I was 11. I took up cross country running later in sixth form and I got incredibly fit. I remember in lower sixth I was running every week and I came sixth in the school’s annual cross country run. I didn’t go to cross running in the next year and noticed a massive difference that I actually moved 10 places down to 16th. It was there early on I learnt about the importance of maintaining fitness.
Fast forward 10 years, before last year I wasn’t really a runner I was more of a cyclist. Cycling many miles around Stoke and later South Staffs on the weekends and weekdays in the warmer months. What made me switch to running was that it was quicker not having to get all the equipment ready and also a lot of people I knew had taken up running, mainly by taking part in Park Run. By running it meant I could get involved in the conversations and even enter in races together. My first race was the Manchester 10k and since then I have done the Cannock Chase 10k, Race for Life 5k, Stafford Half, Birmingham International Half Marathon and a couple of virtual 5k runs.
In terms of fitness I have always been fit and I have always kept up with regular exercise since my school days. I aim to exercise at least three times a week but now for the training I have upped it to five times a week.
So why Birmingham?
I did put in for the ballot for the London Marathon but I didn’t get in (surprise, surprise) and I wanted to do a marathon in a place which meant something to me. I had recently started a new job in Birmingham and I live in the West Midlands so felt that to complete a marathon where I live would be ideal. It also means I don’t need to worry about accommodation. As I had ran the half marathon last year, I knew the route would be similar so it feels even more achievable.
So what about training?
I know that to succeed, I need to stick to a regular training schedule. After looking around on Pinterest I found one by Women’s Running, it is a 12 week plan and although the marathon is more than 12 weeks away I thought it would be good to keep me motivated, allows me to see where my weaknesses are and gives me more time to work on them. Also if I felt like having an extra rest day, I could afford too. My training has upped to five days a week which I am not finding to be too much of a massive difference but it is early days!
How is the training going?
I am more or less sticking to schedule, I keep a diary which lists everything that I eat and exercise and I tick off the chart as I go along. I got given for christmas a Garmin vivosmart 3 which has been handy in keeping track of what fitness I do. I have used Strava for a very long time now so I use this as well, I do have an obsession with seeing where I have ran by the red line and seeing if I have beaten my personal records.
I have found it at times to be quite a lonely process, training on my own. I tried joining a run club but they were all faster than me and because I was travelling further for my job, there really wasn’t any point. I am planning to look for run chat groups on twitter to talk about training and keep me motivated.
It is a huge undertaking in terms of time. In the evenings after I have been to work, ran, showered it is pretty much time for bed. I really don’t do much else.
What are you wearing to train?
Since I do quite a lot of sport quite regularly I already had quite a lot of kit. For outdoors I alternate between a small Primark scarf I got years ago to a free buff I got from a mountain bike magazine. I tend to wear an long sleeved top (Aldi do some cheap ones) and a long sleeved cycling top (purely because it is reflective) I alternate between some leggings I got from Nike a few years back and these gymshark ones which are amazing! The best leggings I have ever brought, they fit so well! I recently brought these by gymshark also so cannot wait to try them out! My trainers are Adidas Falcon Elite 3, I brought these ages ago but you can still get them online. I brought them originally as I wanted a trainer that was an ‘all rounder’ as I did a lot of circuit training. They are serving me well but I will invest a pair of running shoes before the marathon as I am taking running more seriously and with the miles I am putting in, the shoes won’t last!
What are your aims for your next three weeks of training?
I aim to have nailed a pretty decent warm up and warm down routine by the time my next blog post goes live. I always skip a warm up in the aim to get outside and get it over with as fast as possible, when I get back I would just quickly stretch, protein shake and then shower and the next few day’s I would really feel it. I am feeling it in my knees more as well. I will also try and make some time to get involved more in chat groups on Twitter. By week six I should have ran 12 miles so it will be interesting to see how well I do. Finally I want to look more into which charity I want to support.
Sunday 18th March – Stafford Half
Sunday 6th May – Great Birmingham 10k (with team University of Birmingham)
Sunday 9th September – Great North Run
Sunday 14th October – Birmingham International Marathon
Are you doing the Birmingham International or running another marathon, let me know in the comments below!