The first week of my #emf2017 training is complete and so far all training runs have been completed, albeit with a bit of jiggery as to what’s run and what day. Granted, this is week one of sixteen, but this in itself feels like and achievement as half of my runs have been pre-work. Something I’ve avoided at all cost until now. I have no problem with early starts, I’m often in work for just after 7am. However this relies heavily on my ability, honed over years of snooze button abuse, to get out of bed and out the door in under 15 minutes. Throwing in an extra 30 minutes to run and subsequent shower time meant a midweek AM run never even seemed an option.
The first 6:30am run was only 3 miles, the first mile of which slipped by unnoticed as I plodded along semi-concious, but it was a revelation. Once I was fully corpus mentis and the sun made a welcome appearance above the horizon, I saw the light. Even Wednesday’s commuting run to work with the threat of the work shower at the other end was enjoyable. Far more so than the equivalent run home that I try to do once a week. Not only do you feel more awake as you sit down to start your days’ work, your evenings become your own and the struggle to fit in a run around bedtimes and tea-times is banished. My worry in all this training is I’d see even less of my wife as I go for more frequent, longer runs midweek after putting A to bed. This way I’m up, out, and back just as they’re getting up. I can train as much as I need to and still have family time. I am becoming a morning runner.
It may only be week two, but the enormity of the training that lays ahead has hit home. There’s a lot of running coming my way over the next few months. Before even starting to train I upped myself from an intermediate training plan to an advanced training plan, symbolic of a little bit of over confidence in my current fitness level, and reaffirming the fact that no matter how many times I tell myself otherwise I do want to run this marathon in a good time. Yes this is about raising money for charity, keeping E’s memory alive, and helping keep my own darker moments at bay. But as I continue down this running path, carried further by the folk at running club who seem to barely break sweat during those lung busting hill sessions, I start to think about PBs and becoming a serious runner. And so long as E stays central to it all, that can’t be a bad thing can it?
The definition of a good marathon time for me is still up for debate. My only other effort, albeit before a serious running bug took over, was 4 hours 13 minutes. At the time that was crushing. I’d trained for sub-4hrs and it was easily achievable. However I set off like a mad man, ran what was then a half marathon PB over the first 13.1 miles, then went careering in to the wall around 18 miles. I never got over the wall. I lumbered my way through the next 8 miles and my 4 hour target slipped by without a fight. But this time 4 hours doesn’t seem ambitious enough given what I’ve run in the last 12 months. Last year I finished a series of six half marathons with a sub-90 minute time (although Strava tells me it was 200m short – don’t take it away from me Strava!!!), and scaling that up in the surely reliable running calculators tells me I should be looking at closer to 3:10. Even at my most confident that seems unlikely. At the moment, a whole week in to my training plan, I think 3:30 is probably my target. Probably.
The internal struggle of how to pace myself on the day will inevitably continue right through until race day. Likely until around mile 18 again, after which its almost certain I’ll have no say in what pace I’m running. Other struggles are so far being kept at bay. Even a return to Scotland, where family, friends, and the surroundings all sing with memories of E, is proving (just about) manageable. I have my running gear with me. Partly to keep me on track for Edinburgh, and partly to keep me on track generally. Its tough staying with friends whose youngest, best friends with E, is only a couple of weeks older than she was. Seeing everything that E should be doing now is always going to be difficult. But it’s manageable. If anything, times like this become training for when A overtakes E in age and we’re reminded of the missed milestones once more.
Now to start training week two and make sure the running gear gets good use whilst we’re here (unlike the running gear that went on its summer holidays last year and never left the case). Time to dig out the old MapMyRun log in details and figure out some routes.