Manchester Marathon – 5 Weeks To Go

I’m well settled into my marathon training plan now, and for the most part, I’m continuing to enjoy it. One slight downside is that I can’t run at parkrun as often as I’d like, since I don’t want to risk getting tired or injured before the long Sunday runs; however, I’ve still been attending as a volunteer, so it’s all good. As I’m still being cautious with pushing myself outside of interval sessions, it’s hard to tell how much my aerobic performance has improved – but in my last interval session, I was able to do two sets of ten one-minute sprints at around my fastest 5K pace and feel OK doing it, so that’s a good sign.

The last two Sundays saw perhaps the most challenging and exciting parts of the training plan: running 24km at easy pace, then (the following weekend) running 30km at a mix of paces. These would be longer than any runs I’d done before, and were perfect opportunities to test out my special equipment: vest, water bag, energy gels and electrolyte tablets. One of the most frequently heard tips for running a marathon is “nothing new on Marathon Day”. I’d already tried taking one energy gel on a half-marathon run and my stomach seemed fine with it; and while I probably won’t need a water bag at the actual event due to the aid stations available, I could get used to wearing the vest.

I decided to use the 24km run to do something I’d meant to try for some time: running all the way to Blackpool Tower. I opted for extra layers as it was very cold when I set out – running at easy pace meant that I didn’t become uncomfortably warm. Curiously, I felt more comfortable in the second half than the first; perhaps it was the motivational effect about halfway through of seeing the Tower off in the distance, and then of seeing on the stone road markers that I was getting closer. By the time I reached the Blackpool Promenade and could enjoy the satisfaction of having reached the sea entirely on foot, I was feeling physically better than I had expected, certainly as if I could have kept going.

For the 30km run, I chose to follow most of the Preston Guild Wheel (the whole thing is 21 miles, or nearly 34 kilometres). This proved to be more of a physical and mental challenge. The weather was warmer, but I had a strong wind blowing into my face in the sections that followed the River Ribble. Descending the hill at Brockholes Nature Reserve proved nerve-wracking, as it was very muddy and slippery. By the 20km mark, despite taking my gels and tablets and drinking from my bag, I was feeling more achy than I had during the 24km run and needed a little willpower to keep going. Eventually, I found myself in a headspace very similar to when I was first running half-marathons, where I could barely remember a time before I started running, and all that mattered was continue with the motions.

By the time I reached my stopping point, I had covered just over 31km (19.3 miles) in 3 hours and 10 minutes. Next time I run that far again, it’ll be Marathon Day – and I can’t be sure how those last seven miles will feel. I suppose I’ll have more energy due to tapering in my plan, and the crowd will provide extra motivation. But things are progressing well, and the final goal certainly feels achievable.


About R.J. Southworth

Hi there. I've been blogging since January 2014, and I like to talk about all sorts of things: book reviews, film reviews, writing, science, history, or sometimes just sharing miscellaneous thoughts. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you!
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