The end of 2014 was tough...I lost my Dad in November and, whilst 94 is a fantastic age and he “kept all his marbles” until the end, it is still a big loss to lose my Dad, my friend, my “sounding board” and my inspiration in one go. A massive hole in my life that will never be filled, but life really is about the next generations and loved ones around me. That’s where my drive comes from now. The early weeks of London Marathon training were more “mechanical” than inspiring and they went in a unmotivated flow, ticking off session after session. Christmas and New Year changed all that. For once, I properly downed-tools from work, rested, re-charged and re-set my life. Proper rest, improving speed and endurance in training, the benefits of pilates and lots of great times with family and friends. I somewhat blew the concept of rest days (Ben at Full Potential please ignore that bit!) as my motivation kicked in and I found myself saying, between two parkruns on New Year’s Day “...funny, the more I go through my training the easier running is getting”! Doh!
But that is the difference, I am now deep (200 miles with 100 miles in 2015) into the 20 week pre London plan, seeing and feeling benefits although not (yet) shifting the weight I want to (basic physics...want to carry less weight, and each 1lb off equates to 10lbs less pressure on my knees) and have not touched a drop of alcohol since N Y Eve...even having a non-alchi birthday! I can really say now, having completed 6 weeks of the training plan that I am utterly enjoying it (yes, I am bonkers!) even its relentless nature. As some of you will know, this path to VMLM2015 is a step on to ultras so my plan differs from many a marathon plan that would have an easy day on Saturday ahead of a Sunday long run. Thanks to Ben (from FP) my plan is a very personal fit to my needs and what work demands of me too...unlike many, with my client work being on various sites, I am not able to do commute runs so I have adapted.
What’s my week like? Mondays are the oddest thing called “rest days” with [drum roll] NO running but with pilates...I am loving pilates but have no style – others have graceful and controlled movements, whereas mine are somewhere between a one-armed paper hanger and someone with their laces tied together! Core work and conditioning rule, and pilates along with my trusty foam roller and a fantastic new knobbly massage roller stick are working. My sports physio, the wonderful Vicki at Body Reset Clinic, is really pleased at the way some old, persistent muscle knots are getting under control. I really am trying to look after my legs and feet with all the investment going into training which means that I have stopped racing karts, which is quite a shock, and do get really annoyed at silly trips...caught a kerb and stumbled out of control into a parked car last week, luckily without any real injury apart from a sore foot for a day. The rest of the week has...3 effort sessions (Kenyan Hills, Intervals, fartleks, threshold, sprint hills, etc.), 2 recovery runs, parkrun and a Sunday long run or a Sunday cross country event. Oh, swimming and starting cycling again drop in there somewhere.
Gotta say, I love mud-plugging on cross countries and whilst the distances are “only” 5-6 miles there is an all-round training hit of threshold + hills + endurance in one wet hit, yes!! The year started with the Cliveden 6m XC taking 3.5 mins off my 2014 time around the beautiful grounds of the house, complete with steep uphill zigzag and twice up the 175 steps of yew tree walk!!!!!!
Fellow club members from Sherfield Park Runners, have been great. Practical advice, great club nights and also joining me in various of my effort sessions rather than me always banging out effort sessions on my own. Many are in their own training for half and full marathons so it works for all and I really, really appreciate the company and enthusiasm.
Events wise things are getting serious. The Bramley 20 (cunningly that is a very local, 20 mile race) is looming very near, as in Sunday 15th Feb! By then I really need to have settled on what “marathon pace” means for me as I am still in a range. 22nd March brings the Reading Half Marathon where Amy, my running buddy (from SPR), and I are targeting a 3 mins + reduction in PBs and getting a sub 1:45 HM. Yeah, not remarkable for many but another step forward for me where my first HM, March 2013, was 2:15+, so all good. April sees the London Marathon itself which I am already massively excited about, including the support that I know will be there from Debs and others, Endure24 in June as a solo and the Berlin Marathon in September. Now the latest piece of the jigsaw has landed...in August, at the Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1 the very popular 50km trail ultra round Salisbury with 5 rivers, 4 hills, 3 country estates, 2 castles and a cathedral!
Why do all this? On one hand I love a challenge and am, in many ways, (Ultra)bonkers! But there is a good cause under all this...raising money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. Please have a look at this page, my drivers and what I’m trying to do:
I have a stinking cold....do I care? No! Staying cheerful and positive and will use a little rest for all the development to sink in. Cheers for now, Ultra Bonkers Mark