Week 2 is now behind me. A visit from my sister (an experienced long distance runner) mid-week has convinced me that I should not be following a marathon program at this early stage.
All the marathon programs are intended to be run such that you reach the end of the plan in the week before your marathon event, that means my 16-week schedule should commence in the first week of January. So I’m now planning to stick with the four runs per week but, rather than building up mileage, concentrate on fartlek and other interval and speed type training instead.
Fartlek (a Swedish term meaning “speed play”) involves constantly varying your speed on a run. At varying intervals during a gentle jog you set ourself a target such as ‘the third lamppost” and then sprint to it at 80% of your maximum effort. You then return to a gentle jog. A few minutes later you repeat but this time at 90% effort. By constantly varying the distance that you sprint and the maximum effort you should big benefits in overall fitness.
I’d also been advised by a number of people that getting a gait analysis done was essential. This involves having your running style analysed by a specialist and then choosing running shoes that are best suited to your particular physiology.
Alexandra Sports in Portsmouth seem to have a large and loyal following so off I trotted on Saturday. I had thought my running style was fairly neutral and that my 5 year old Asic trainers were fine, I’ve not yet had any injuries or blisters after all. How wrong could I have been! In what turned out to be an hour and a half session I had my gait analysed. my running on a treadmill was captured on video and various aspects of my leg physiology measured.
My ‘neutral’ running style is quite the opposite! It seems that my 20-year limp and the operation to cure it have left me with a few hangovers, mainly my feet point out when I run. This means that as my feet hit the ground, they start at the outside of the heel and then follow through with a roll to the inside edge of the front/toe. It looks very odd on video and, whilst it can’t be fully corrected, I was advised that a stiffer show would help control the roll and minimise any potential injury. My current Asics aren’t very stiff when new and what stiffness they did have has long since gone as the foam breaks down.
Once we knew what kind of shoe would suit I then spent a very long time trying on various shoes and then running up and down the road outside. It was remarkable how much difference there was between brands and models but in the end I chose a pair of Saucony trainers. And I was told that, in all likelyhood, these would be shot by the time I complete my marathon. Comparing their stiffness with my Asics its easy to see that they are longitudinally much stiffer as well as resist twisting so we’ll see how they pan out.
It’s an expensive business this! I was starting to panic as I couldn’t find a central London hotel for the night before the marathon, Virgin’s partner is Holiday Inn and they provide transport for runners to the start but all the central hotels were fully booked. I eventually found accommodation at Novotel Waterloo courtesy of a package provided by WRPTours, a company that offer packages for the marathon. So that was another unplanned expense but, as I’m travelling up on Saturday on my own (MrsG, daughter and extended family will catch the train on Sunday morning) I wanted the reassurance of a room, early breakfast and transport sorted.
And finally, I bought a Nike+ Fuelband and a Withings scale. The Fuelband is a gadget I know but it helps keep me moving. As my day to day work involves being sat at a desk typing, I need every little bit of encouragement to get up and out. So when I’m not running this helps do that and tracks my steps using ‘Nike Fuel’ points. The Withings scale is a wifi connected scale that sends the data to an app so that I can track my weight loss and fat/BMI measurements throughout this journey. We already had a Tanita scale that measured the same things but the convenience of having it recorded automatically is great and I may even have the data fed into this site.
See y’all next week.
I’m running the 2013 London Marathon in support of the National Autistic Society. See my fundraising page here.