Warning. There are no graphs in this post. I’m sorry/you are welcome.

Right now is a difficult part of my training. On the whole it’s gone way better than I could have predicted, but that doesn’t stop me from going through an annoying cycle of:

  1. I can’t do this marathon, it’s too far and fast
  2. I can’t do this training it’s too hard, I’m tired, I just need a day off
  3. I don’t want to go out
  4. Right, I’m off
  5. Ohhh, that was a nice run

I cycle through this pretty quickly and it’s a massive waste of mental energy and it annoys me and Pilla too I’m sure. The last week was a pretty prime example of this. I did my fastest ever 20 mile run in 2:33. This is quick for me and a little faster than I hoped to be even at the end of training. The run itself was a nice loop around south Manchester which I panned the night before. For ages i’ve just been doing out and back running, where I just run out for a set amount of time and turn round. I quite like runs like this as you don’t need to plan but I fancied something different and had a spare Friday evening so I planned a route instead.

I actually got a little emosh about it because almost every section on it covered areas of Manchester I ran through different bit’s of training I’ve done over the years I’ve been running. The first 5 miles to Cheadle was my typical ironman route, the next couple were on a route I used when I did my first marathon in Paris in 2009 through Wythenshawe. I ran down the canal in Sale to remind my of the 2012 VLM training and finally around Salford Quays where I did my first ever 5km (and boy did that hurt). It was a lovely little run and I felt great until about 18.5 miles at which point the wheels totally came off but even though it hurt I kept up the pace until the end. Job done, felt fantastic.

However all of last week I just couldn’t get motivated to get out. I did my 2nd fitness test at the Uni of salford (quick clip below).

This is me at 16 km/h and it felt FAST. It actually hurt my legs quite a bit, so much so that I had to give up on my Tuesday run after about 2 minutes. I was just to full of doms to continue and I spent the rest of the morning beating myself up about it until Pilla told me to give myself a break. I’m pushing myself hard, I’m doing pretty well and one failed run in a 20 week program isn’t going to break me. I know this. It’s obvious. It’s what I’d be telling other people too but it’s much harder convincing yourself.

The rest of the week was about gritting my teeth and getting through it. The Thursday run was a particular low-light. This was a 90 minute run with 50 minutes at marathon pace. These runs are hard, especially when you are tired, but the actual run was a doddle compared to the ridiculous arguing and procrastinating I was doing in my head before I got going. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to go a LOT. I went and it was a great little run. I would like to say lesson learned, but I know I’m going to go through some similar things over the next few weeks.

So going into the Silverstone half at the weekend was actually a bit of a relief; a break from the constant routine and a chance for my legs to tell my head to be quiet and show it what they could do after 14 weeks of training. The plan I’m following has a fairly simple rule for predicting if you can meet your marathon time. You take the total minutes of your goal marathon time (mine is 195) and divide it by 2.1. That figure of minutes, if you can hit it a couple of weeks out from your marathon gives a fairly strong indication of what you are capable of. That figure for me was 1:32:50 ish. That was the figure I was aiming for.

Silverstone was pretty bleak on Sunday, somewhat annoying given Saturday and Monday have been beautiful spring days, but such is spring marathon training. I was a bit disorganised getting there and my phone ran out of battery when I arrived so we missed out on seeing everyone we wanted to 🙁 but I did bump into the supremely handsome DanRunning just before the start. The run itself couldn’t really have gone much better for me. It was windy but I felt good almost all the way round (there was a bit at mile 7, running behind the stands, into the wind and uphill that I was fairly hating my life) and it was massively helped by getting a running pace mate. You know, that person who is running at exactly the same speed as, that you hardly talk to but you know is helping you get round. We ran shoulder to shoulder pretty much from mile 4 until the finish line (where he beat me!!) and without that guy I would have dropped the pace way before the finish line. Thanks that guy whoever you were!

(Right, actually before I go on, I love running and running folk and all that. You’re all great, seriously. But those runners that have either pace alerts or beeping cadence alerts on their watches at races. Why? For the love of all that is good, WHY?!)

Anyway, as I was ticking down the miles and my pace was still good I was doing a little bit of mental maths to my finish time. 1:32 looked good, but I knew I could get a 1:31 with just a bit of pushing. The last mile was lovely as the wind was behind us and I was ecstatic with 1:31:48. It’s almost 5 minutes off a PB. Loved it!

There comes a point in the training plan where I just think it’s about clinging on as best you can and just getting to the start line in shape, fit and happy. I’m there now. I know I can do this, it’s just about getting each session done. It’s not going to get easier, but it is going to get done.

Finally, I have a Virgin Money site here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NeilWilkinson. I’m raising money for the MS Society and I’ll love you forever if you consider donating. Oh and extra finally, I added this thing on the blog that let’s you sign up for email updates if I add a post. If you want to you can sign up below. Thanks for reading!