Road to London Marathon 2020
Fair to say I am not to sure where to start or how to write this blog. But for the next ten weeks I will be writing a blog each week and posting it on Strava and my Everyday Lions online running coaching Facebook page.
It will be about my lead up to the London marathon and how my training is going as well as my daily struggles with my mental health and alcohol and anything that I think people will find interesting in reading. My hope is that I will be able to help other people who are struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues.
It is hard to believe it’s been a week ago since writing my last blog. With only 7 weeks and 3 days to go until race day, I am feeling a tad more confident in reaching my goal of toeing the start line.
Soon after posting last week’s blog I had been given some physio advice to really load up my tendon and continue training as I normally would. The advice given was that I didn’t have an Achilles issue per say, but that my calves are not strong enough to sustain the current load. It is something like 12 to 14 times your own body weight every time you land during running.
As mentioned in last week’s blog I have continued going to the gym one to two times a day and using the smith machine. The last time we checked in I was able to do calf raises and holds with 40kg weight which includes the bar. This has now increased to 45 to 52kg depending on how much I have ran through out the day.
Straight away after getting this news I ran a 10km run at the local cricket oval down the road. If anything, I felt unco running and more a tight feeling than pain. I also added some heel wedges under my innersole that is meant to help with stabilisation and decrease pressure through the Achilles tendon. The following day I ran another 6km with minimal pain and once warmed up I didn’t feel anything.
Saturday would be my first interval session in two weeks. If anything, I was excited to see if all my cross training in the pool and on the bike had paid off. The plan was to run 2 x 3km efforts on 800m float. As the Devonport triathlon was on, this was changed to 2.5km efforts. I ran a 4km warm up and had hardly any pain and did some strides at desired training pace and the Achilles was still good. The plan was 1.25 km out and back. There would be a tail wind out and a headwind back. I started cautiously and was surprised how easy 3.30 pace was feeling. I hit the turn in just under 3.30 still with the headwind on the way back. The following 1km was 3:36 for an average of 3.33 for rep. I jogged a slow 800m to recover and noticed that the Paralympic triathlon athletes were finished and that I could run the whole way with a tail wind. I decided that this was a better course for both a confidence booster and no one likes running into the wind. Starting the clock again I was a little bit more aggressive and set out at the pace of 3:25 and continued this pace through 2km and was able to pick up the pace a little more to finish in 3.23. I was very happy to average the intervals at under 3:30 pace and it showed me that the cross training had been able to maintain some base fitness. I averaged 3.45km for the 5.8km.
The following day I backed this up with my longest run in 4 weeks. The plan of attack here was to run the first 14 km comfortable, pick up the next 8km and run these in low 4 or under and slowly jog home the last 2km for a 24km run. I was feeling pretty good most of the way and was able to get a little bit of confidence out of this run. My lungs felt fine and I felt I could have kept that pace for another 5km if I had to. It was mainly my legs that were feeling trashed. I put this down to obviously not being able to do a longer run of that length in 6 weeks.
I am definitely pushing the boundaries at the moment with my training training loads and increasing my mileage quickly and this is something I would never do with the runners I coach. But with less than 8 weeks to go I have to get these longer runs in. The one thing I have been doing to make sure my body is tip top is the one percenter’s. What I mean by this is regular massage, strength and conditioning work to strengthen areas for prevention of injury. Plenty of self-massage and still the odd pool running work out and watching what I eat most of the time. I have really good routine at the moment that takes me just over an hour every day. This includes calf raisers, stretching, glutes, rolling, core and some arm and leg weights. This something I will keep up for sure while I am still running post London Marathon.
My Monday consisted of an easy 15km run followed by the gym. I have found my Achilles is much better in the afternoon so I have shifted all my running to P.M, unfortunately by doing this I miss out on being able to run double days and this is where you can get some strength. My way around this was on Tuesday I warmed up 11km before doing my 20 x 200m intervals and then do a longer warm down. By doing this I was able to run 24km and still get a bigger day of mileage.
Yesterday I treated as a recovery day and only ran 8km and had a massage. I usually pull up pretty sore from these and I will be interested to know how my 30km long run goes tonight. My goal in this run will be just to “bank” it. I won’t go stupid with pace and will be running it of feel and have plenty of time the next few weeks to go faster in these longer runs.
Looking toward the weekend, I have a 45 to 50-minute tempo run and I will be hoping to get some help from someone on a bike. I really enjoy this training effect and it feels like you have runners around you instead of grinding this big session alone. I will set the pace at 3.40s low and if I feel good ill kick this pace down the last 20 minutes of the session.
Personally, I am still sober and working hard every day to make this happen. I got some results back yesterday from my Diploma of Community Services saying I had passed my latest units. I now only have 2 units to go and work placement until I complete my this. The past 6 months this had taken a back step because of my health and it has been really nice to get back into some study and reach my long-term goal of being a social worker.
Until next time…………
With 8 weeks and a bit to go until London Marathon and knowing that my longest run has only been 19km a month ago. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried or scared that I won’t be able to get enough longer runs in before race day. It will be a balancing act of getting these longer runs in, but also watching my training load so I don’t flare up the Achilles too much.
On a positive note I have been really busy this past week doing study, a few online coaching programs for runners I coach and have been averaging more than 2 hours a day of cross training. After 6 days off running I had my first run back which was only 10 minutes, I pulled up well with minimal soreness and no stiffness in the morning and was able to back up again with 15 minutes the next day with the same result.
I decided to have another two days off and concentrate on cycling and pool running more, I have been really enjoying the cycling and it has been a breath of fresh air and something that is still able to get my heart rate up and gets me out of the pool, which can become very boring and mundane. I have borrowed a friend’s mountain bike have ridden anywhere from 8km to 45km. My riding skills are terrible and I really feel unsafe on the roads but it’s a better option some days and breaks up the boredom of pool running. Once I have ticked off all the marathon majors, this will be something that I will take up for sure. I love the whole culture and cycling scene of riding all day on a weekend and having lunch with good mates and then riding home. I could see it becoming very addictive but I love how it has less load impact on the body as compared to running.
With the two days off and still keeping up my eccentric calf raisers and holds I decided it was time to try and run again, in the mean time I had enlisted the help of good friend Troy Atkins who has suffered from chronic Achilles issues the past 15 to 20 years and has a wealth of knowledge on what works and what doesn’t. He suggested I get into the gym and make my calves super strong and start a regular strength routine using the Smith machine twice day increasing the weight I was currently doing. I have started to do it in the morning and at night. Straight away I have been able to increase my weight from 17kg to 40kg and added a few more different variations of calf raisers. I was in the gym up to 2 to 3 three times a day and it was becoming very expensive so I have purchased a gym membership. I can use their pool, spin bike classes and the gym for only 20 dollars week for as much or little as I want. Back to the run, I managed 20 minutes and had no pain the first 300m and then less than half a one pain for the rest of the run. This was a big improvement from ten days earlier where I had pain from step one and it was more than 2 and I woke up stiff. Yesterday I was also able to back up with a 25-minute run, it was a bit grumpy but I put that down to being quite aggressive in the gym with my weighted calf raisers. The main thing is it has pulled up well this morning with no soreness or any stiffness. I plan to just cross train the next two days and keep up the one percenters of ice, exercises and my gym routine. There has been progress but I get frustrated as I want to be running every day, but I need to be smart and not do anything stupid and come back slowly. But I am happy with where the injury is at the moment, some running is better no running and it is coming back stronger each time after a day or two off and I am able to load it up more each time.
On the weekend I went for a coffee at Dannebrog Café Bar and Grill Lodge in Devonport, Jan and Sally the owners have always been a big supporter of me personally and other sporting individuals and teams based in Devonport. After reading my first blog on here he has offered to sponsor me for the London marathon. It is local support like this that makes all the difference and this money will go a long way in helping me achieve my goal. If you are ever in Devonport please head on down to their café and have a coffee and something to eat or consider staying in his B and B and enjoy the beautiful view along the Mersey river foreshore.
Personally I am still sober and there isn’t a day that goes by that I am not grateful that I am. I have transitioned from group living at the salvation army to living back in Devonport. What helps for me is staying in regular contact with my social worker and meditation everyday. I find this 15 minutes is my time and a good way of checking in on myself, If I am feeling anxious at all through out the day I will do it again until it has settled. I really believe all schools should do this as a compulsory subject. For me it has been life changing.
In finishing this weeks blog I am still motivated and I am doing everything in my power to toe the start line. Thanks for reading and until next time
Happy running 😊
I had the plan in April last year when the London Marathon ballot opened to run this marathon, I had tried on several occasions to get into this race but had always failed. The London marathon was something I had always wanted to do since watching some amazing world records and times that had be ran there and then reading about it in Steve Moneghetti’s book who has finished second in London twice. Fast forward 8 months and I was successful in getting a start.
Since August last year things have been up and down with my health and my running has suffered. It all came to a head in September last year and I checked myself back into rehab, I would be lying if I said this past 24 weeks have been easy. It has been far from easy with cravings, lapses and high levels of anxiety. My last two marathon campaigns have ended in tears with me pulling the pin on Auckland marathon and choosing to go back into the bridge centre. Then just 2 days out from Cadbury Marathon I had anxiety so bad I couldn’t focus and get in the right mind set to run 2km let alone 42km at 3.30 pace. I was mentally cooked before even starting. It is fair to say my confidence is not very high at the moment and I am hoping by using this platform I can get my self in best possible shape physically, mentally and spiritually to start a marathon and then finish it a reasonable time I know I am capable of.
As far as the drinking goes, I am currently 19 weeks sober and my mental health is still up and down. I find regular exercise, mindfulness meditation, counselling and taking medication every day helps. My biggest hurdle was always my drinking and how this would affect my mental state, but luckily with hard work this isn’t something I am too worried about at the moment, I am scared of relapsing but I have a relapse prevention in place to help me with this.
Personally, training has been really frustrating knowing I have this coming up and I am currently injured. I have some Achilles tendonitis most likely caused my increasing my mileage too quickly or wearing some shoes that needed to be replaced a couple of weeks before their use by date.
This all happened 2 and half weeks ago, initially I had been jogging around and doing the odd session post Cadbury marathon just to maintain some fitness. I gave myself 4 days off and got straight back into the pool and started rehab exercises including calf raisers with weighs as well as one-legged hops. I was able to run with only about a 1 level of pain for a week and built it back up to 15km and the odd session. But I had been waking up really stiff and sore and it took my Achilles several minutes to warm up and feel normal. After this routine for a few days I decided to just get my Achilles right and do lots of cross training.
At the moment I am doing one to two pool sessions a day from 40 minutes to 1hr and 30 minutes and the odd bike ride. The training plan is to keep this routine going for another few days and then ill try running again. My Achilles tendon is back to feeling good of a morning and i only have very minimal pain. My biggest worry is losing too much fitness the next few weeks which will hamper my marathon time in 9 and bit weeks. I know that I can keep some base fitness that will keep me in good stead for when it is possible to be able to do bigger mileage Right now, I can only trust the process and not go into London with too many expectations. My biggest goal is to just tick this race off the Majors list. It will be my 3rd of 6 majors with only New York, Boston and Berlin to go.
Right now I am motivated and have a great support network around me to achieve this goal even if its sub 2.30 , sub 3 or over 3. Until next week….