Steve's Marathon Challenge - he has a plan!

Despite the postponement, I am still planning on running the London Marathon for the first time in October 2020.

My goal is to complete it in 4:00 - 4:30hrs and raise £3,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Here is my 'journey' of getting 'Race-Fit'.

All entrants have their motivation for running, from breaking world records to raising money and awareness, if you'd like to understand my motivation, you can read why I am running here and below you can keep up to date with my progress as I push myself to complete the weekly training targets.

Week 11 & 12 (16 – 29 March)

Apologies for ‘missing’ a week. With work events linked to COVID-19 I have had a lot on my plate as we try to get a handle on how we will manage the coming weeks and months at the LIA.

However, I have managed to continue my training albeit at a lower level than my original marathon training plan suggested.

During week 11 I was still able to go the gym as usual with a mixture of spin and circuit training mixed in with a couple of 5 miles runs.

Week 12 and the gym closed as well as all rugby related activities! At least now I had more time to run – at least that was the idea.

Monday 23rd March was a short 6.3km run but at a 6:13min/km pace. On Wednesday the impact of COVID-19 was really being felt as I ran on near deserted streets (8.9km at 6:16min/km) and on Saturday, another 13.6km at 6:27min/km. A positive of the current pandemic meant that I felt able to run on roads (without footpaths) that I would avoid normally. Mereheath Lane out of Knutsford usually resembles a racetrack in the mornings but today I ventured down it towards Mere, seeing only cyclists. There seems to be more runners than I have ever seen as we pass on opposite sides of the road with a nod of the head.

So, as we all experience a different way of life, I can thoroughly recommend spending time exercising. It allows me to get away from the news, take time to think about other things and relax (at least mentally) for an hour or so. I am sure when we get back to ‘normal’ we will regret not making more of this break in our routine. 

 

Week 10 (9 - 15 March)
Well, what a difference a week makes. The world is a very different place and the consequences have wreaked havoc on many things including public events, such as the London Marathon.

I had a plan – start the week hard, taper down to the weekend, carb-loading from Wednesday, run the Wilmslow Half Marathon, pick training back up again. What could possibly go wrong with that plan?

My routine started as usual with the mix of short/medium runs and gym sessions. I was feeling great and running quicker. Then 5pm on Friday 13th (it had to be) the email saying the London Marathon has been postponed until 4th October 2020. I didn’t feel too bad about that. Afterall, it was a reasonably predictable outcome given the chaos the world was experiencing. So, I switched my attention to the Wilmslow event. The website was all positive, saying everything was good for the event. So, like an excited child, I packed my bag on Saturday night, checked the website – all still on. Then at 2:30am my phone chimed with a text to say I was to be disappointed again.

So, I took the weekend off to re-group and make a plan. So here it is……

I will run 26.2 miles on 26 April 2020 in and around Knutsford. All my training has been geared to this date and it seems a shame to waste that. Then of course I will run in London on 4th October in the official race supporting JDRF as promised.

I will try to keep this ‘blog’ going if only to track my progress and keep up my motivation.

Despite the dramas of the week, I covered 22 miles at an average pace of 6:10-6:30min/km giving an estimated marathon time of 4hrs 20mins.

You can track more details of my training exploits via my Strava profile here.

If you would like to help me reach my goal of raising £3,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and are able to donate, the link can be found here, Thank You

Week 9 (2 - 8 March)
A slight change of schedule this week – began in the gym (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) with spin, and circuit training concentrating on areas of my legs and back that were struggling on my long run last Sunday. Then step up the running towards the end of the week with 5km on Thursday, 13.5km on Friday and then 20km on Sunday.

It seemed like a reasonable plan and it did go well. My issue now seems that I literally run out of energy at around the 20km mark. 18km and 19km are fine, 20km and it becomes uncomfortable to run and I feel unable to carry-on. I think I have reached my limit of not having to think about food and hydration. Up to now I have not planed any of my runs, I go when I have the time without any thought of what I have/will eat. So, it gets serious when I have to eat oats and nuts!!

Saturday marked the 50-day countdown to the big day so I am now starting to think of what I may need for the event. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Next Sunday 15 March I have the Wilmslow half-marathon which I am sure will be an experience as it will be my first ever race. I’ll let you know how it goes.

This week I covered 38.5km/24 miles at an average pace of 6:19-6:35min/km giving an estimated marathon time of 4hrs 28mins.

You can track more details of my training exploits via my Strava profile here.

If you would like to help me reach my goal of raising £3,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and are able to donate, the link can be found here, Thank You

Week 8 (24 February - 1 March)
So decided to hit the training hard this week. With a few work commitments cancelled because Coronavirus I had more time than I anticipated.

You can track more details of my training exploits via my Strava profile here.

I managed the usual mix of spin class and circuit training as well as tempo running on the treadmill at the gym. This was a new experience for me as all my running has been outdoors to date. I surprised myself and quite enjoyed it varying speeds for a fixed time ranging from 6mph – 9.5mph in one-minute sessions (30 seconds rest). I managed a full hour, covering over 6 miles.

My running this week 6-mile session on Tuesday, a 5-mile run on Thursday and a full 13.5 miles on Sunday evening. Adding my session on the treadmill I covered 30.5miles/49km this week at an average pace of 6:23-6:44min/km giving an estimated marathon time of 4hrs 31mins.

One other milestone occurred on Thursday. In a mad moment, I entered the Wilmslow Half-marathon (15th March). Logic tells me it is a good idea to enter a race before the big day and a half-marathon at pace will fit in well with my training schedule. On the other hand, another commitment and more pressure on my training plan

If you would like to help me reach my goal of raising £3,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and are able to donate, the link can be found here, Thank You

Week 7 (17 - 23 February)
So this week marks the last 10-week countdown. 70 days, 1,680 hours or 100,800 minutes before the big day!

It is starting to feel very close now although 10 weeks, if I was planning a holiday would feel like an age. With a few hold-ups, difficulty finding time to run and a couple of family issues I feel far from ready.

Monday started as usual with the early morning spin class and I am starting to see improvement. Initially I dreaded the intense 30-minute session, but I have definitely improved my cardio-vascular fitness. My heartrate used to max out around 180bpm but now sits at an average of 120bpm and a maximum of 154bpm. Apparently, that is quite good. Tuesday was an hour of circuit training with another 30mins on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday night I managed a 5-mile run in the dark around Knutsford. Thursday morning was another hour of circuit training and I rounded the week off with a 10-mile run on Saturday from Knutsford to Mobberley and back. All in all, not a bad week as I get back into the routine. Next week I intend to stick to my schedule again and push to get quicker

So, my total distance covered this week was 25km at a pace between 6:30min/km and 6:53min/km on the longer run which gives an average pace of 6:41min/km resulting in a projected marathon time of 4hrs 37mins.

If you would like to help me reach my goal of raising £3,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and are able to donate, the link can be found hereThank You

Week 6 (10 - 16 February)
Some semblance of normality returned to the Davies household as my wife was allowed home from hospital on Friday. Thank you to everyone who contacted me to wish her well.

During the week, between hospital visits, I managed the usual early morning spin class and three circuit training sessions. On the odd late evening I actually began to enjoy a couple of runs. On Monday I braved the cold evening for an 8.5km in the dark and then on Saturday, I faced Storm Dennis and seemed to spend the whole time running into a strong headwind for 6.2km around Tatton Mere. My calf was holding up reasonably well so on Sunday I made the decision to try a longer run. At 9am I set off around Tatton with an option to cut it short if my calf wasn’t up to it. However, it went well so I continued and managed 15km around Knutsford and Rostherne, finding parts of the town I live in I didn’t know existed.

By the end of Week 6 I was feeling much more confident about my own ability/fitness after a week or so off. But the realisation that next week starts the last 10 weeks countdown was a real wakeup call. To add to that, my JDRF running bib arrived on Saturday along with the arrangements for the big day.

So, my total distance covered this week was almost 30km at a pace between 6:33min/km and 6:51min/km on the longer run which gives an average pace of 6:42min/km resulting in a projected marathon time of 4hrs 39mins. I will need to step up my pace if I am to achieve my target time of 4:00-4:30hrs for the marathon.

If you would like to help me reach my goal of raising £3,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and are able to donate, the link can be found here, Thank You

Week 5 (3 - 9 February)
What a difference a week makes. All plans and good intentions went out the window this week as my wife was rushed into hospital on Sunday. She has spent the week in intensive care which meant I have been focused on getting to the hospital to visit, look after the children and dog leaving very little time for anything else. At the time of writing this she is improving and hopefully will be discharged at some point this week.

In the meantime, I have managed to squeeze some very early mornings in the gym with the compulsory spin class on Monday and circuit training on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (6-7am) but I have not felt inclined to go running.

We were both scheduled to go skiing this week but obviously this has been cancelled which means I should be able to get back into the routine shortly.

Therefore I haven’t recorded any runs this week so I am hoping that my running pace this week won’t have suffered too much and I still have a projected marathon time of 4hrs 30mins

 

Week 4 (27 January - 2 February)
Yet again the spin class kicked off the week but my right calf muscle was still very sore and bruised so I took the decision to take it easy this week and focus more on some gym work. So Tuesday and Wednesday I did circuit training (2 x 1hr sessions) that was harder than I thought and on Wednesday I tried a run. 12.35km felt like a lot more and really didn’t go well in terms of speed or how my calf felt (but at least I had done some miles). Thursday I was back in the gym for another 1hr circuit training session and I rounded the week off on Friday with a 8.58km run around Knutsford. This went slightly better and clearly marked the fact that my calf was feeling better. Next week I intend to step back up again (hopefully).

My running pace this week varied between 6:36min/km to 6:22min/km. My average pace is still around the 6:30min/km giving a projected marathon time of 4hrs 30mins.

If you would like to help me reach my goal of raising £3,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and are able to donate, the link can be found hereThank You

Week 3 (20-26 January)
Again the spin class kicked off the week (6:30am on a Monday never feels great) but the beginning of the week started well. Tuesday's 5 mile was my fastest to date which I think is down to the Monday 'rest day' with Wednesday's 5 miles feeling good too. And then 'life' got in the way. Thursday I was attending meetings in Worcester and had every intention of running in the morning beforehand but just didn't find the time. Then into Friday when a small domestic emergency which ended with me taking my son to hospital (diabetes related) meant that Friday's run also didn't happen. No problem - Saturday I had time and the weather forecast was reasonable, so I set off on a different route (around Mere and Ashley) with every intention of covering my first half-marathon distance. Or at least that was the intention. But around 6 miles I felt my right calf muscle give way and that was the end of that. I had to make a rather sheepish phone call to my wife to come and pick me up.

So this is my first week that hasn't gone to plan. I am still nursing a tender right calf but home to be back at it next week.

My running pace this week varied between 6:30min/km to 6:18min/km. My average pace is now 6:23min/km giving a projected marathon time of 4hrs 25mins.

 

Week 2 (13-19 January)
Started the week with a spin class (on my rest day) again but I think it helps keep my legs less stiff after the Sunday long run. For some reason I did 8 miles on Tuesday (rather than the scheduled 5 miles). Wednesday was a regular 5 miles but on Thursday I was not able to face going out, feeling very tired. The first break-away from the schedule made me feel bad but I did make up for it by running the 5 miles the next day (Friday - on my rest day). The weekend went well around various family commitments. Saturday was a cross-country blast around Tatton Park although it was rather muddy. Sunday was my longest run to date with an 11 mile mix of cross country and road running. The fog made it interesting as I headed for the Airman's Memorial with no point of reference. Anyway, managed to avoid the heard of deer/stags and made it home in just over 2hrs.

My running pace this week varied between 6:53min/km (cross country) to 6:19min/km (Friday's run after a two day break). My average pace is now 6:37min/km giving a projected marathon time of 4hrs 35mins.

 

Week 1 (6-12 January) 
I decided to try and keep up the gym sessions AND do the training runs - we will see how long I keep that up. So Monday started not with a rest but a spin class. Tuesday was the first run (5miles - early morning in the dark) and it seemed to go OK. Tuesday also a 5 mile so now I'm two miles up on my plan already. Wednesday morning a circuit training session. Thursday's run (also 5 miles) ended with a few hill sprints (Dury Lane) which seemed to freeze my calf muscles for the next two days. Friday came as a welcome rest. On Saturday I made the mistake of delaying my run until the evening when at 7pm it began to pour down so a very very wet run in the dark without headphones. So the first big run on Sunday (9 miles) was a psychological barrier. I managed to combine two of my weekly circuits and managed to finish in 1:30hr.

My running pace started at 7:04min/km but by Sunday it had come down to 6:42min/km giving me a projected marathon time of  4hrs 44mins.

I hope you enjoyed the above and would like to help me reach the goal of raising £3,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation . If you are able to donate, the link can be found here

Thank You