Only 10 weeks remain until the Paris marathon and like most would-be-marathoners, I’m constantly looking for new ideas and ways to improve. I seem to be always reading magazines, books and blogs about nutrition tips, strength workouts and training plans. It doesn’t matter how much I’ve already read, I always seem to want to know more. I can’t get enough.
Maybe it’s because I’m a nerd with an insatiable desire for information and a need to learn everything there is to know about a topic, or maybe it’s a common intrinsic human quality – an ever constant progression towards a more efficient, overall better human condition. Faster, higher, stronger.
The two biggest areas that I’m always looking to improve are my marathon training plan and my nutrition.
Paris Marathon Training Plan 2016. I mentioned before that I’m following Douglas and Pfitzinger’s 18 week up to 55 miles per week plan. I followed this plan last spring when training for the Stone Mad Marathon and despite some hesitation about certain aspects of the plan at first, I got on board and it worked well for me. I like the variation in the plan and with in-built rest weeks, I’m happy to follow it again. Since using this plan, I’ve also seen my marathon time drop from 4.17 to 3.58 (ish) and again to 3.52 (ish).
I’m a little behind with the miles (3…not much but still!) so it’s not quite exactly D & F’s week 10 but close enough! This week (that’s week 10 on the plan) will go something like this for me:
|Tuesday||10 miles easy|
|Wednesday||4-5 miles recovery|
|Friday||12 miles medium long run(5 miles at 15k/ half-marathon race pace)|
|Saturday||5 miles recovery(including 8 x 100m strides)|
|Sunday||20 miles long run|
Marathon Nutrition. This is a huge topic and in the next few weeks in the build up to the Paris marathon, I will be going into this in more detail about what I do, what I hear/read/believe I’m supposed to do and the gap in between.
Confession: As someone who is a card-carrying member of Weight Watchers for years and coming from that background of being overweight, finding the right balance of maintaining my weight while also trying to figure out how much more I should be eating can be difficult to work out.
Apart from the mathematics involved, it’s taken me a long time to accept that I need to and can consume more and that the demands of marathon training require it. Despite having always been big into playing sports- tennis, basketball, GAA, badminton, football – I became overweight as a young teenager. I joined Weight Watchers when I was 17, I got to my goal within a year and as a friend said to me at the time “You just look happier in your own skin.” I’ve never forgotten this because she was absolutely right. It was never anything to do with waist size, trouser size, the number on the scales, the desire to look a certain way, boys or anything like that for me. I just wanted to feel like me and when I was overweight, I didn’t.
Having worked so hard to take control over my diet and get to my goal weight, I admit that the idea of sometimes consuming 2 or 3 times what I would normally consume in a day during marathon training initially freaked me out massively. Logically, I can work out that if I use more energy, then I need to take in more energy. Instinctively, I hesitate. Why? Because I don’t want to go back to a place where I’m unhappy and so uncomfortable in my own skin that it brings me to dark places.
Balance: This is the seesaw that goes back and forth in the playground of my mind. It drives me crazy sometimes, this constant mental warfare but I battle on because I know there is a balance and I will keep working on finding it until I get it right. I want to get stronger. I want to get faster. I want to get higher.
It’s not easy to admit any of this. It’s easier to present a front as someone who has all their shit together, knows what they’re doing and is an expert in their field. I am none of these things. What I am is a human experiment, always trying new things and learning from others, accepting that I don’t know everything. That’s why I want to share my marathon training experience here. To share an honest account of what a marathon training schedule is like to experience and what really goes on on the nutrition side.
Because at the end of the day, whether it’s because I’m a nerd or it’s evolution shoving me forward, who doesn’t want to be a stronger, faster, higher version of themselves, inside and out?
Are you training for any upcoming races?
Do you find it hard to work out how much more you should be consuming when training for a marathon or a race?