By Paul Lacey

4 Weeks and Counting

It’s four weeks until race day!! We are have broken the back of marathon training now and the excitement is starting to pick up. The few weeks (my bad!) since my last blog post has seen the culmination of my high mileage aerobic base building phase and the start of the specific mara pace phase. And boy can I feel the improvement – I’m finally getting that endless gliding feeling you get when in good form. But my word it hasn’t come easily. I have become well acquainted with constant leg ache, cramp, tiredness and absolutely ravenous ‘EAT EVERYTHING I CAN SEE’ hunger.

At peak mileage, getting out of bed and the walk to the bathroom was always an interesting, if entertaining, experience. Hobble, slightly effeminate squeal, followed by a further hobble, arm-on-wall balance with associated grunt, and finally a curse stepping down a step into the bathroom, was the norm. Now, as I have previously mentioned this is my first serious marathon attempt with proper training and so this is very new to me. I asked a chap at work who can only be described as an elite runner (he’s in the 2:20s for a mara) if this constant fatigued feeling was normal. His response “welcome to my world”. Oh, no magic formula then. Cheers.

In the last few weeks I have completed a 75 mile week and ran the full 26.2 mile distance on a training run, all topped off with a much welcome ‘rest’ week. The reduced millage week (40, down from an average 60) is to allow my body a more prolonged recovery period (as opposed to a day off) in anticipation of the the penultimate phase – 3 weeks of hard marathon pace specific training.

As I enter this new and challenging phase of training it is important to crystallise my inspiration, motivation and ultimate goals for the UGM (other than having the experience of a lifetime with an incredible group of runners). Two weeks ago I watched my sister (who will also be joining us in Masaka) complete her first ever road marathon at Brighton. Hannah has only been running seriously since the end of last summer and she blew me away with an incredible 4 and a half hour finish! It takes anyone dedication, resilience and raw courage to step into the arena and run for 26.2 miles, long after your body is screaming at you to stop. But tens of thousands of us, perhaps slightly peculiar people, do. What inspires us all? For some it’s for health. For some it’s for charity, or the memory of a loved one. Some maybe it is a dare. And some it is just the pure, unadulterous challenge of the infamous marathon distance. This made me question, why am I running a marathon, and specifically the UGM?

Hannah

Hannah running the Brighton Marathon

For me the marathon is the ultimate test of human endurance. Not just physical, but mental. Patience, pain resilience and determination are essential to marathon success. I read Wilson Kipsang, one of the finest Marathon runners on Earth, describe the marathon as a 20 mile warm up, followed by a 10 km race. Often the first half frustratingly slow (this is a lesson marathon runners often learn the hard way). He bides his time like a lion stalking his prey. Or maybe not a lion stalking his prey; much more like one of our persistence hunting prehistoric ancestors stalking their prey in the heart of East Africa. Patience. Resilience. Determination. This is what our bodies are evolved to do – perhaps the finest endurance running body in the animal kingdom. What more inspiration do you need to take part in the one event that embodies our early human heritage so perfectly? A marathon where the human story began. Simply. Awesome.

Sprint finish

My sprint finish at Abingdon

So what does the new training phase involve? The point of this phase is to ramp up the pace to marathon pace now that my body has built up a high aerobic base with long steady runs and can handle high mileage. The phase will be a relatively short 3 week build up to peak fitness. I would prefer this to be longer, but as you know I stated training a tad late. The aerobic base building phase is by far the most important, I certainly don’t want to risk a too short taper, so this phase had to give some ground. There are two key elements of this phase: tempo running (basically half-mara pace) and most of all running at mara pace. As i’ve previously mentioned it will be very hard to run to a specific pace in Uganda, rather I will go on feel, but for the purposes of my UK training I am calling mara pace 6:50-7:00 min/mile. I will take HM pace to be around the 6:10 min/mile mark.

Rather than give a full schedule of my training week (at least 50% is still steady runs) I thought I would give a couple examples of key training sessions in this specific phase to give you an idea of what I am trying to achieve:

Training sessions

Training sessions

My next blog will be posted as the taper begins. The last blog post before race day!! Enjoy your training everyone and I’ll see you in Masaka so so soon.

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