10th April 2020
Six months to go.
If I look at the calendar that’s what it says. In six months time I will be lining up for London’s 40th, and my 1st, marathon. When I started training last October, six months felt like no time at all and I worried that it wasn’t long enough to get myself ready. But now, October seems so far in the future that I almost can’t comprehend it. It isn’t really the six months, it’s just that marathons, and football, and getting the bus, exist in a world that I can no longer imagine.
So, where are we now? Thanks to Government measures I have been able to go on furlough so have plenty of time to enjoy my one a day exercise in this amazing spring weather. I fear for the economy and what to expect when the country tries to reopen but that isn’t what I want to write about so let’s stick to the training. As I say, I can’t focus on the marathon now and don’t particularly feel I’m on a journey anymore. I don’t see my training as a progression onwards and upwards to some far off imagined peak of fitness but I did get within a whisker of completing my notional training plan, with my longest run just shy of the required 20 miles so I am now trying to maintain that fitness over the summer to be ready for a final push in August and September. I’m definitely fitter than I was last October, and the training has hopefully hardened my body to the rigours of long distance running, so if I can just maintain for the next few months I’m hoping to be in a good position.
It’s been so long since a proper update I’m not going to try and outline the training day by day but rather I will look at the variety of sessions I’m undertaking. With the gym closed I haven’t been swimming for a while but I have ramped up my cycling significantly. I have two bikes at home, a very nice Charge hybrid bike that is lovely to look at and for riding decent distances on the road. At the moment this is hooked up to the CycleOps fluid Turbo Trainer and I can’t be bothered to keep setting this up so it is staying there for a while. The whole family are really enjoying the turbo trainer and we are racking up the miles on it. I’ve built a platform to rest a laptop on and we’re taking it in turns to ride and watch stuff. So far I’ve covered off the last few episodes of Picard, a couple from Better Call Saul and the whole of Tiger King (that last one really makes you lose track of time). I’ve had four or five sessions on it now of between 60-90 minutes and tried to either replicate a spin class by varying the loading or intensity or a long ride by setting a good resistance and just holding on. Distance is measured on a £9 cycle computer and I can’t vouch for its accuracy but I tend to cover around 20-25km per session. My other bike is a sturdy (i.e. heavy) MTB from Carrera (Halfords finest) that is usually deployed on family trips around The New Forest or Bedgebury. The fat tyres and bulky frame make it a bit unwieldy on the road but nonetheless it is what I have been using on several recent real world rides. I’m not really much of a cyclist, mostly A to B rides or family days out, but in the current climate and in the absence of swimming I have been out more in the last few weeks. The first ride was split between one loop with my son and a second different loop with my wife. Since then I have done two rides along the routes I’ve previously used for my longest runs and these are now approaching 30km which is probably further than I’ve ridden in the past. I will continue to try and get in one outdoor ride each week and maybe build up the distance.
In terms of complementary training I’ve tried to replicate this in the home as much as possible. I have taken regular YouTube yoga sessions in my front room and these have been surprisingly useful and I will try and get a couple in each week. The strength and conditioning work continues with a couple of routines from Runner’s World that make use of the gym ball I have and my wife’s 5kg weights. I try and do these on the rest days away from running and cycling so I can usually get a couple in each week. With so many hours in the day to fill I could end up prison-yard fit at this rate. I have also done quite a lot of walking with my wife, if we have done our exercise indoors it is a good way to get out for some fresh air. In the past we would often drive deep into the Kent or Sussex countryside for our walks but now we are looking closer to home and this has opened up some previously unrealised treasures, and potentially some new running routes. We have done a few 10-15km walks and this has helped me appreciate my locale a little bit more
In terms of eating and drinking these have probably improved since lockdown. With no real desire to pop to the shops on a whim I have become quite frugal with my snacking and by preparing family meals myself I am eating a pretty good diet with fresh ingredients and no added nonsense. And while I have gone back on my alcohol ban I am sticking to weekends and the odd virtual pub evening on Zoom/Teams. In fact my weight has continued to drop since lockdown and I am now wearing T-Shirts that haven’t seen daylight since 2015, maybe I’ll hit my start line dream weight after all.
In terms of running this has continued well, if without the distance focussed intensity of February and March. With the good weather even my kids have got in the habit of getting up early and going for a run. I have had several runs with my wife, we’ll often do a quick 5 km loop together before I go on a longer run on my own but last week we completed my local 10km loop together (a distance record for her) so that was very satisfying. I have struggled to get motivated for a proper long run but have managed a few between 12-16km. The most recent mirrored a recent hike and took me deep into the local countryside which, given the drop in traffic, was most idyllic and not too distressing on the brief sections of no-footpath roads.
My motivation for exercise is as strong as ever but my motivation for the marathon has dropped dramatically and given that that was the driving force behind writing this diary I’m not sure how often I will return for updates. As the new way of life settles in maybe I will rediscover that drive so while I’m sure I will be back before too long, I just can’t say how soon that will be.
Recent Training Summary
5 Spin classes (Turbo Trainer) (notional distance 105km)
3 Yoga classes (30 minute YouTube classes)
3 Cycle Rides (total distance 78km)
10 Runs (total distance 94km)
Current weight 12”9’