Laura, one of our Athlete Lab Osteopaths, decided to bite the bullet this year and run her first marathon. Crazy woman. We asked her a few questions on her training, motivation and actual race day experience.
1. Which was your first marathon and why choose that one?
Being a marathon spectator and bag lady for a number of years, I’ve witnessed thousands of people rise to the challenge. Their stories, commitment and gusto is always contagious and empowering, but I’ve never believed in myself enough to make that commitment. Turning 30 this year was the kick up the backside I needed to finally bite the bullet.
Chester marathon was actually the only UK marathon still open to entry in 2017 by the time I plucked up the courage. It’s advertised as a PB course and I knew a few friends had already signed up so it seemed the perfect opportunity.
2. How were your feelings on first signing up?
After going through the motions of the registration form and payment, my initial thought was ‘oh dear, what have I done’ and I still didn’t know if I’d actually get to the start line.
3. What type of training plan did you follow?
At the advice of my trusted marathon running partner in crime, I read a blog relating to running a sub 3 hour marathon, which was way off my target time but it discussed the necessity to avoid over training and emphasized time in the legs instead of lots of mileage. The program suggested 3 training runs a week, 1 long slow run finishing with a few miles at marathon pace, 1 shorter run at marathon pace building up to a maximum of 14 miles and 1 interval training session, referencing Yasso’s 800s (which I strangely really enjoyed).
4. How did you find the training plan?
I train 4-5 days a week most of the year round so I thought training 3 days a week, plus a strength session would be achievable, I was wrong. The actual sessions themselves were obviously challenging but not destroying. However, fitting these time consuming sessions around work and social commitments was exhausting. I hugely under estimated how tiring it would be and how run down I would feel. I actually came down with a cold which I struggled to shake a month before race day so my tapering started earlier than intended and I missed my longest training runs.
5. What did you enjoy/hate?
I enjoyed the sense of achievement from the longer runs, I didn’t know I was capable. It amazing what our bodies can do we put ours minds to something. And I really enjoyed the interval training, maybe because they were shorter in duration, but I also generally enjoy high intensity training. I hated trying to fit the long runs in, I secretly took running gear to a christening and intended to run the 20 miles home, but when it came to it, it was cold, wet and dark so I got the train (face palm). This wasn’t the first or last time i missed/rescheduled a long run because i didn’t have the head space.
6. How was the day?
Race day came round quickly. I was anxious about taking on the right food, and getting enough sleep & rest in the days leading up to it. Not knowing what to expect, I tried to break the race up into small goals. I had a gel every four miles (can someone please invent a decent tasting gel please!) and tried to see the race as two 10 mile races followed by 10km. An old injury reared its ugly head and it became a real mental challenge, but I was determined and still stunned i’d even go that far. By mile 16 my legs felt like lead – like a square wheel, with accumulated momentum carrying me through. I knew I couldn’t stop, but knowing I’d broken the back of it and the miles were counting down into single figures made me feel like a kid at christmas. I guess being stubborn finally proved to be a desirable trait!
7. Is there another one on the cards?
Finishing with a good for age time makes me feel I should use that time as entry for another, it would be a shame to waste it. Watch this space.