Upping the Pace:


20.1 miles in 2:41:40

March is always a big month in training for the London Marathon. It’s the month that the majority of the longer training runs are completed and it’s usually at around this point that I’ll get a feel for how the training is progressing, and whether I’ll need to adjust my target or not.

When I first attempted the marathon in 2009, I was aiming for a sub-4 hour marathon. Ah, the blissful ignorance! Swanning from gym to gym, treadmill running through the colder months and doing absolutely no speed or interval training whatsoever. And when I ran a 19-miler on March 21st 2009 in 3:20:00 and realised that a 4-hour marathon wasn’t going to be achievable, I was bitterly disappointed. It was a tough truth to face, knowing that I hadn’t done enough and I remember feeling very naive. That year I completed London in 4:45:51.

In contrast, today I ran 20-miles in 2:41:40.

Over the last month I’ve put in some good mileage at pace. I’ve been running 5 and 7 mile loops around Hyde Park with a chap who’s running the MDS (sponsor him here) and I’ve kept up my twice weekly speed sessions. During these sessions, my short distance times have improved dramatically. In training, I’m running 7-miles at a 7:25-min/mile pace and managing to keep up with the editor of Runner’s World magazine during our not-quite-5K handicap race (a man who last year ran a 3:08 marathon in Boston). And after a 16-miler a few weeks ago produced a surprising result, I decided to adjust my marathon target-time again.

To help manage my expectations, so I’m not too disappointed should anything go wrong on race day, I’ve broken my target into three goals; a sort of ABC grading system.

C: I finally crack the 4-hour mark after 4 years of trying.
B: I break the 3:45:00 mark (which is 8:30-min/mile pace)

…or I shoot for the stars and try for A: Sub-3:30:00, which equates to an 8-min/mile pace.

To help get a feel for 8-min/miles and to force myself to run my longer runs at this pace, Runner’s World have kindly allowed me to be a pacer at two half-marathons (so far) at 8s (a 1:45:00 finish time). Silverstone was last weekend, and it was Blackpool a few weeks before. I’ve always enjoyed pacing races, and I’m very privileged to be part of this team. Both runs were successful and the pace felt very comfortable.

The only worry with this is that I’m missing out on some of the longer runs while I’m doing these events (there’s one more at Hastings next weekend). So I crammed in 20-miles this morning, and I’ll get a chance to do a 21-miler on 1st April. The next few weeks will give me the opportunity to tackle my nutrition and to build on a few base miles before the taper starts in April. But after today’s run, I’m feeling very confident indeed. I’m even considering marathon retirement in a blaze of glory. We’ll see…

8-min/mile pacing at the Silverstone Half Marathon 2012

Don't make eye-contact with the 8-min/mile pacer. I hear he's kind of a d*ck.

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