My First Marathon: Week 1

Wowzer! Am I tardy, or what?!

I’m halfway through my second week of marathon training, but I still haven’t written up my first week’s training yet! I bet you thought I’d chickened out of my first marathon, didn’t you?
Well, I haven’t.
I’m still determined (and deliriously blind to the pain of running more than 15 miles).

My 16 week training plan had a rather unconventional start though. I had signed up to run the Welsh Castles Relay with my club, and so my first week’s training was pretty light – just a couple of training runs and a 9 mile race! I will keep this week’s update brief and dvise you to look out for my report of the incredible Welsh Castles Relay later over the weekend instead!

Monday: Hills
4 x [4 minutes continuous hills; 2 minutes rest]
Continuous hill running is a staple of the Kenyan training regime. It strengthens the aerobic system for greater endurance and strengthens the legs for all round running awesomeness. I’ve planned a hill session each week during the early stages of my training and this first session is the lightest – future sessions see the running intervals lengthen to 8 minutes!*

I generally avoid these sessions unless I’m specifically training for something because hills hurt! But it was nice to hit the park and notice the difference between starting this training plan and starting the last – training in daylight and in the warmth of early summer** is a pleasant contrast to the dark, cold 7am runs of January! It was especially nice to see the outdoor gym being used by half a dozen or so neighbours, as I panted up and down the hill next to it.

*8 minutes isn’t that big a deal. Apparently the Kenyans do this kind of crazy shit for over an hour before breakfast.
** At the time of writing it is no longer warm. Summer was nice while it lasted.

Tuesday: Strength
The kettlebell was dusted off as I launched into my usual routine, focusing on hamstrings, glutes and lateral strength. I settled for 30 minutes, which was enough time to get through 2 sets of 10 reps of each exercise. It was tough going and I definitely noticed the effects of having laid off in recent weeks, but nothing could have prepared me for the DOMS that set in late that evening at work! It was my last evening at work before breaking for the summer vacation and I spent it walking around the library like a wrestler. It’s a good job most of the students have already left, otherwise there would have been a lot of pointing and staring.

Wednesday: Rest
While Tuesday was my last day working at the library, Wednesday was my last day of teaching duties as I submitted paperwork to the exam board and breathed a massive sigh of relief. That’s it – I’m officially free for the summer vacation!

To celebrate I went to a Sportsmakers training event and am pleased to announce that I am now an official Sportsmaker! This isn’t as difficult or trumped up as it sounds as a Sportsmaker can be anybody who encourages over-16s to become more active, be it as part of an established event, organising an event yourself, or simply accompanying someone on an informal activity. As a Sportsmaker I log the hours spent volunteering, which could include helping at parkrun, taking a group of friends cycling, or volunteering with a community sports programme (and I’m doing all of these things), which contribute to a record of post-Olympic sporting activity. As a Sportsmaker you have access to information, opportunities and contacts, which I hope will help us get more out of the post-Olympics buzz (and out of the investments).

20130614-134326.jpgI even got a new shirt.

Thursday: Marathon pace run (5 miles)
On the advice of Marathon Boy, Tim, I have at least one marathon pace (MP) run a week to help me ‘learn’ that pace and dial into it on race day. Race pace training was invaluable for my recent half marathon and so, while this week’s session was a total nightmare (pace was up, pace was down, pace felt slooooow… pace felt weird), I know that the more I practice the easier it will get.

Friday – Sunday: Camping and running across Wales for the Welsh Castles Relay!
More to follow on this amazing weekend long event… Look out for my report.

Overall, my first week of training felt… well.. not a lot like training actually. I think that I was too distracted by finishing work and preparing for the weekend! Shit gets real from week 2 though, and I forsee a lot of glute aching, wrestler-style walking, banana eating and hill running… eurgh…

Any advice for DOMS will be gratefully received.

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2 responses to “My First Marathon: Week 1

  1. Hello! I started reading your blog awhile back, as you were working towards your goal of a sub-1:50 half marathon. I was on the same mission and am happy to say I just achieved it yesterday with a 1:46:08, and am super stoked! Reading about your training details and success was a bit like having an imaginary training partner!!!! Many thanks there!
    Could you share your kettlebell routine? I’ve been wanting to join a kettlebell class but it never fits into my schedule (or rather, the schedule of my five very busy children!). If I knew where to start/what to do at home, that would be awesome!
    Final point – I’m also a red head, so I especially love the name of your blog!

    • This is such a sweet comment – thank you so much. I’m glad you found the HM training diary useful, and HUGE congratulations on your finish time – that’s really incredible! I think my next HM goal will be to dip below 1:45 and I may have to come to you for some tips for that one! I’m very impressed that you have managed to train so hard while also looking after 5 kids. Maybe I should get some advice on time management too!

      I’ve been reluctant to share my strength routine in the past because I’m not a qualified coach or anything. I’ve also never been to a kettlebell class as the gyms I’ve been to don’t have them, but I’m very lucky that a couple of staff members in my old gym helped me out with the technique when they saw my throwing the things round rather haphazardly. You’re not the first person to have asked for more info on this, so I will put a post together. Any other requests willy be happily received! X

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