Stirling marathon - prerace thoughts

Tomorrow is the big day. It's Stirling marathon. It feels like just yesterday that Mandy convinced me to sign up for my first marathon in 2 years.

31 weeks have passed since I signed up to Stirling and since then so much has happened but none of that matters now, all I want tomorrow is sub 3 hours to show up on my watch when I cross the finish line.

It's going to be an early start. Up at 5:30am, leave the flat at 6:20am to arrive in Stirling for 7:20am.

Park the car and catch a bus to the start line, arriving approx. 7:40am. That gives me just over an hour to do my warm up, relax and try and enjoy the first ever Stirling marathon.

Today has been all about doing nothing! Keeping my feet up and blogging my thoughts. I've had an easy 2 mile run which got rid of the phantom niggles in my legs and I feel great.

What have I done to get here?

I've done a lot of running but I'll be even more specific. I've done 3 key sessions a week, running 6 days a week, sometimes running twice a day.
Tuesday evening has been a track session, I've not done as many of these as I would have liked but that is due to work commitments more than anything. Thursday evenings have been marathon pace training. Starting with 6 miles at marathon pace and adding a mile on each week until I hit 15 miles. This session has been a mix of 1 mile warm up, 15 miles at pace, 1 mile cool down and another session called 5,4,3,2,1. This is 5 miles at target pace, 5 minutes jog recovery then 4 miles at pace, 4 minutes jog recovery, all the way down to the final mile. It builds the session up to about 18 miles in total and takes up a massive part of a Thursday evening, especially when I don't finish work until 5:30pm!

I've probably had 2 weeks of injury time. I would say this could have been avoided because one week was back in November when I twisted my ankle during a race and the other week was a pulled hamstring issue, both injuries luckily cleared up quickly and didn't have an impact on my long runs or the key Thursday night session.

The long run has been usually on a Sunday and all over the 20 mile mark with a couple of 24 milers and 26 milers.

My peak week had me running 79 miles but most weeks were in the region of mid to high 60s. I had planned to get more weeks in the 70s but such is life.

This has been the most consistent marathon training I've ever done and I really hope it has been enough!

The past week

The last week I've not really changed much to my routine. I've gone to track, albeit running a bit easier than I normally would. I've eaten the same things I would any normal week, with a slight change to the amount of carbs I've been eating. My meal planning has been done for me though - thanks Sally from Fit Naturally. She has been providing me with meal plans since October and I feel I'm in the best shape ever from a health point of view. I've had a number of comments from people saying I'm looking race fit.

From a fitness point of view, I'd say I'm the fittest I've ever been for a marathon. I've lost a bit of my short distance pace but I've not been training for a 5k or 10k pb, I've been training for a marathon pb!


The plans

Tomorrow's plan is to go out easy and, if I feel I can pick the pace up with 6 miles to go, I will. My training runs have all gone to plan, hitting a good pace but I don't plan to race at this pace. Some people might question this tactic but in training I've ran at 6:30min/mi pace for up to 16 miles. This would comfortably get me a sub 3 hour finish time but so would 6:40min/mi pace and that is the pace I am planning to run. It's slower, so should be easier and allow for the pick up of pace in the final 10k I have planned.

My current PB for the marathon is 2:58:49, if I run at 6:40 for the full distance then that gives me a new PB of 2:55. Not bad! If I manage to pick the pace up in the final 6 miles, sub 2:55 is possible.

So the first 5 or so miles I will be watching my pace and running my own race. It's too easy to get carried away. A mistake I've made in the past is think I can bank time by going a bit faster to start with. "Oh that mile was 10 seconds faster than planned, that's OK. Oh, so was that mile, brilliant! I've got 20 seconds in the bank". It doesn't work like that and I need to remind myself of that tomorrow morning.

There will be others aiming for the same time as me and if I can work with them then great but I'm not going to let them dictate my pace. If I find they are going too fast, I let them go.

If my first couple of miles are even slower than 6:40, it's not a problem but the likelihood is they will be slightly faster but I don't want to see my pace clock in at 6:20 for the first mile - if it does, my second mile will be 6:50!

A, B, C

For the marathon, I always have a plan A, plan B and plan C and I normally keep them to myself but I'm going to share them with you.

Plan A: Go out at 6:40min/mi pace and after 20 miles, pick the pace up and see if I can get my first ever negative split. Plan A also includes run the full distance because I've only ever managed to do this once before during an actual marathon!

Plan B: Finish the race sub 3, whether that's 2:59:59 or 2:55:00 I don't care, just finish under the 3 hour mark and also, run it all.

Plan C: Finish with a good for age time which is 3:05, the chances are if I'm on Plan C, something has gone wrong so there will most likely have been walking required. If I have gone to Plan C, don't expect me to be blogging for a while!

So there you have it, it's out there now and let's see what happens!

Bring it on!




Owain Williams

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