Training for the 2020 Belfast marathon

Last weekend I confirmed in my mind that I would be entering the Belfast marathon this year after missing out on the race last year (when they switched it to an easier course… the buggers). For people who know me and the blog, they will know that my running hasn’t been quite there and that committing to the race is a big thing, so before I get into my training updates, I thought I would break down why it is important to me to do this race, this year.

Missing last year due to confidence

As I mentioned, my running has been pretty poor this past year or so as my confidence is truly shot due to my weight gain. Luckily I have been losing weight again and keeping it off so my confidence has risen. But the past year has been a little rougher than I would like to have admitted if I am honest.

I love running and when Victoria and I found out around New Years that we had not been on a run for almost 4 months it was really surprising and quite disheartening for me. I would find every excuse under the sun to go for a run. As mentioned in an old post, when I was losing weight the first time I would weigh myself twice a day and if I didn’t like the weight I was at at the end of the day I would go out for a run. Part of this was due to me being obsessed with the numbers, but also I would be frustrated with myself for not running that day and almost used my weight as an excuse to go for a late-night run.

Obviously, there is more to it, but I was addicted to running and overtime when I started my previous job, I stopped running as much as I should have and when they want to run disappeared a lot of other things did and eventually I would rarely run. My times would be slow and then I would get frustrated about that and not run as I was afraid of seeing those times and then the gaps grew and so on and so forth.

Until we get to last week, where I decided I had to try for a run and if it went well then I would look at the marathon. I had it in my head about going for the marathon this year and if I ran well for a certain amount of miles then I would seriously consider it.

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That tester run

What I have found when running without Victoria was that I was often pushing myself a little too hard at the start as I want to get the nervous first mile or two out of the way. But then I get tired and have to take breaks during the run. With Victoria however I want to make sure she can get to the distance we are running and I do not want to push it too much at the start, so I tried to pretend she was with me and I wanted to go a little slower than I possibly should. I mean this was a run to see what distance I could do, not the time.

Time really didn’t matter to me on this run and I had to keep telling myself that throughout the first couple of miles as I wanted to go a bit faster. I was comfortable and like most runners, I was getting into my own head. Almost tricking myself into going faster as I had lost weight, I was at the gym more, my endurance was up etc etc. I could go 30 seconds faster per km if I needed to. But I took that to the side and thought about distance. I wanted at least a 10km being comfortable and if I got there then I was confident that I could get to a marathon distance, in the relatively short amount of training time left.

As I said the aim was to be comfortable and I was, to the point I could stop for 5 seconds to take a picture as the weather was nice and then continue on. I was getting confident and sure the times were around 36 minutes for the 5km, I knew I could go a lot faster, just not today. Think of the distance, think of the distance.

For around four and a half miles everything was golden, and then on the turn back the wind of a recent storm came and hit me hard and it was a struggle. I kept going and happily, I got past that 10km and then just kept going as long as I could stand the wind. I managed a nice 8 or so miles and I felt very happy. I may not have worked super hard, but I was focused on getting a good distance, to see how long I could go. 18 miles more and that’s a marathon. I had a lot of planning to do as I was going for the marathon.

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What are my aims this year?

Other than obviously completing the marathon I want to do better than 2018, which really broke me as a runner and I think caused this break from running. I had barely been running and I was struggling mentally with it and in the end, I cross over at 6 hours which was close to my worst ever race. It was heartbreaking to me and I got emotional. I was angry and upset and I knew I couldn’t do that again. I simply could not run another race in that condition and that poorly again. So I skipped the next marathon and a lot of races after that. So while I just want to complete and get in under 6 hours. I would really like to get in under 5 hours. I have it as my aim and I am going to figure out ways to make that happen.

Normal training?

The Belfast Marathon is in the first week of May, which as you can tell, does not leave me time to do a full training plan not that I really have ever done one before anyway). But, I know that this training in whatever form it takes is going to be quite truncated and as such I know I have to focus on getting used to the distances again. I needed to build up the distances otherwise it doesn’t matter how fast I am over 11 miles, I still need to get through another 15. So slow and steady long runs are the order of the day with faster shorter runs to help build up the speed. I most likely will not taper as I have never been one to taper much. This is mainly due to the fact that I do not think I will get to 23 or so miles in this training, so there will be no point, the last week will probably be focusing on hills anyway due to the nature of Belfast marathons route.

One thing I will do however is trying to run some of the routes on the weekends. This is a new route for me and I knew what to expect of the old route so I could plan around it easily enough. So, lots of footpath running and with the hope I would like one run to take in a good 15 or so miles of the route and maybe I would walk the rest. This is merely to help my own mind as I think there is nothing worse than not knowing the course and not knowing what is coming… Actually, that sounds good, if you were not anxious about it. I think because I am still anxious about trying for this that I want it planned as well as I can do under the short time scale.

Entering races again

I dodged many races last year and I hated that fact, so this year I plan to attend a good few. Obviously not as many as I did when I was running a lot, but a lot of 10k’s and a few half’s, with maybe another marathon thrown in for good measure. It will be interesting to see how the year goes and hopefully, it will be fine!

I will write up another update in a week or two to let you know on my progress, both mentally and physically regarding running again and planning for this marathon. Wish me luck! Until next time.

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