“Out on the roads there is fitness and self-discovery and the persons we were destined to be.” – George A. Sheehan.
Ten weeks into training for the Bournemouth marathon in October and it’s difficult to imagine how it could be going better.
In fact, everything is going so well it’s beyond even my crazy expectations.
Running has given me a new direction. It has helped to cleanse negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.
Then there is the physical side. I’ve never been fitter, eaten healthier or consumed so little alcohol.
Of course, it’s early days with the times but even they are giving me plenty of encouragement.
I’ve gone from an Xbox-playing, FIFA 17-addicted couch potato in February to breaking the 30-minute barrier for four miles in May.
It’s all been about grooving myself into the regime of eating, training and recovering correctly before the running steps up another gear.
Complex carbohydrates are the best thing to eat for marathon training. If you can balance them in a 4:1 ratio with lean protein (roughly speaking) then you’re sorted.
Perhaps the best thing about the food regime is that I get to eat jelly beans (#winning) plus drink Gatorade and chocolate milk straight after each run.
The idea behind it is to immediately replenish the sugars used by your muscles after running, aiding recovery. The Gatorade tops up the salts lost through sweating and the milk is packed with protein to help your muscles repair themselves after each run.
I’ve found some recipes like kedgeree, some stir fries, chilli con carne and jambalaya that have all been adapted to include complex carbs over the normal simple ones like white rice and pasta.
And, for someone with a severe sweet tooth who used to mix unhealthy and healthy foods, it has been challenging cutting out the sugary snacks, cakes and treats.
To lighten the strict diet plan I do afford myself a cheat night once a week to get my sweet fix – within moderation, though.
Finding ways to make mealtime exciting has been the key and when the training distance increases there are more tasty recipes to try – but more on that in a future blog.
As the weeks of training progress it’s easy to forget just how tough the running was in the first week.
My body massively disagreed with going from couch to three miles in a day, but once the first few runs were over and recovery completed – including some horrific ice baths – the fitness has steadily improved.
Recording all my runs on Strava is great for motivation and to compare against more experienced runners. It’s really surprised me that I’m not hugely off the pace of some established local names, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
After 37 runs, my personal best (PB) for two miles is 14 minutes; three miles is under 21 minutes; four miles under 30 minutes and five miles is 39 minutes.
As you can see, the shorter distances are much quicker than the five and that’s the next target to aim for – taking seven-minute mile pace into distances of four, five and six miles before competing in my first 10k (six mile) race.
At the moment, I’m setting at least one PB per week which is great for morale – the trick is to keep improving and the times will look after themselves.
So, running a three-hour marathon might sound like madness (it did to me) but the training is going to plan so far. Can I dare to dream of London in 2019?
- You can follow all my marathon training updates via WordPress: neilwalton089