I got the preparation for my first marathon all wrong. Intimidated by the enormity of the task that lay ahead and imbued with a sense of youthful – ish naivity, I embarked upon a training schedule far too punishing to ever be sustained without injury.
Something every day was the mantra. Long runs, short ones, a session or two of ‘fartlek’ and to top it all off, yet more interval training, pitching myself against some of London’s steeper hills. At first, things felt good. The act of training hard engendered a sense of confidence. And then it struck. A suspected ITB injury or, failing that, a self-diagnosis along the lines of a buggered right knee. In layman’s terms, when I walked, it felt like the bones and cartilage were grinding and crunching against each other like the gears of an antique wartime truck. Think Harrison Ford, think Raiders of the Lost Ark. Whatever it was, it hurt, caused a considerable hiatus in my preparations for the race and I am positive was caused by over-training.
Backing up my amateur and anecdotal observations, I am always reminded of a visit to a sports physio who once told me that “of all the running disciplines out there, track and field, short and long, I hardly ever see cross country athletes and fell runners in my surgery.” He also left me in no doubt that road runners pretty much paid his wages each month.
So now I’ve adopted a different mantra along the lines that ‘you can do too much running.’ Instead, for Hull 2018, less is already more, each week bringing two constants and a variable. The constants, two short sharp runs of 4 and 6 miles respectively, both curtain raisers for the main weekly event, a much longer route taken at whatever pace I can muster. Having started training a few weeks ago, I’m up to 12.5 miles on that longer route and poised to move up a gear to 14 miles this weekend. Keeping to the same length of ‘long run’ for around four weeks at a time, I am aiming to crank it up, notch by notch until I reach the 18-19 mile mark, anything beyond which I suspect I shall save for the big day.
Of course, there will be other physical exertions too. Press-ups and lunges, perhaps a few reps of some lighter weights, though obviously for tone and not density. But above all, in my humble opinion, I won’t be doing too much pavement pounding, as it’s likely to lead to joint problems somewhere along the way. If I feel I do need an extra session or two, I’ll jump on a rowing machine or head to the pool.
Now where are my budgie smugglers?