When does just running become marathon training?

Running along the beach
Running along the beach

With just 16 weeks until the Paris Marathon, I’ve been starting to think seriously about my marathon training schedule. Although I run three or four times a week at the moment, I know that I will need to turn this up a notch if I want to complete the 26 miles that lie ahead.

So when does just going for a run become actual training?

For me the line has come when being ludicrously busy at work, or not really in the mood for a run, or a bit tired and coldy no longer constitute a valid reason not to run. Training also means a real schedule to run by, with actual distances I need to cover, rather than just plodding on until I decide I’m tired and want to turn back.

I’m basing my training plan on the Hal Higdon Intermediate 1 guide: http://www.halhigdon.com/training/51135/marathon-training-guide. This was the plan that my marathon partners the Twins in Trainers used for their previous marathons, and it worked for them. It requires five runs each week of varying lengths, with one cross training day and 1 rest day. This week involves two 3 mile runs, two 5 mile runs and a 9 mile run.

On Monday I began the programme with 5.4 miles (8.8km) on my favourite riverside route down to Millennium Bridge. So far (day 1) so good.

This was followed on Wednesday lunchtime, with what was meant to be a three mile run. On possibly the most stressful day I’ve had a work in a long time, I found myself guiltily racing out for what was meant to be a quick three miles during my lunch break.

However, mid-route, on a day I really could have done without it, my phone crashed and my run tracker turned off. I’m not going to lie, with a distinct lack of sleep, a frantic day in the office and an impending cold, I may have slightly overreacted to the situation (read: tearful meltdown). Luckily, however, I did manage to get myself and the tracker going again, but in the process lost a large part of my run on the tracker. Since I had left the office in such a stressed hurry I had no idea of how long I’d been running for. At the risk of not getting sufficient mileage in on what was only the second run of my plan, I added an extra loop around Green Park for good measure.

Anxious to check my distance and make sure that I was staying ‘on programme’, when I got back into the office I used mapometre (http://www.mapometer.com) to trace and measure the route, which came in at 5.8 miles (9.3km), definitely more than intended.

Still this took the pressure off for Thursday’s run, when Louise and I chatted our way around Hyde Park, up to Notting Hill Gate and down onto Kensington High Street for a festive smoothie at Whole Foods, clocking up 3.9 miles (6.3km).

Tomorrow I’ve got another 3 miles planned around Clapham Common followed by 9 miles on Sunday.

I’m tired just thinking about what lies ahead but I know it will all be worth it!

Happy running!

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