Month 3 – Manchester Marathon Training

If you had told me a few months ago that Manchester Marathon would not go ahead, I would have assumed that it would be due injury or perhaps extreme weather conditions. Never in a million years would I have assumed that it would be postponed to October due to a global health pandemic. But, I’m not here to talk about COVID-19 – we’ve all had enough of that.

Whilst I will no longer be running a marathon in April, I will still share with you how my final month of marathon training went. I got to week 13/16 with the fantastic help of Clean Coach Katie. In fact, I had just ran my longest run and final 20 miler the day I found out that the marathon would not go ahead. I had completed the training and I was about to go into the 3 week taper, so I still want to share what my final month looked like.

Before I reflect on the last month of training, I would like to share that I will now be aiming for Milton Keynes Marathon on 6th September 2020, plus Manchester Marathon on 11th October. I am overwhelmed by the support and generosity that Clean Coach Katie has given to me (and her community of runners both online and locally). My sponsorship with Katie was only supposed to be until Manchester Marathon (April) but she has kindly offered to continue to coach me from now, up until both Milton Keynes Marathon and Manchester Marathon in October.

Everyone has been significantly affected by COVID-19 and so I absolutely did not expect Katie to stick with me. Katie spoke to me about how essential it is that everyone stays active and positive during this difficult time and that she is still determined to get myself and ultra runner Mark (the other sponsored athlete) across our marathon finish lines. This clearly demonstrates Katie’s commitments to us runners out there – so Katie, I cannot thank you enough! If you need some support or structure during this difficult time, you can contact Katie for some online coaching or join her Online Running Hub, wherever you are in the world.

The final few weeks before the taper

So now to reflect and as mentioned above, I had reached the taper period. The marathon was so close I could taste it! However – I am so proud of the progress I have made. The last few weeks gave me a huge confidence boost. My 20 miler on Friday 13th March was epic. I ran at an average pace of 9:23mm, didn’t hit the wall, enjoyed every moment and didn’t ache the next day. In comparison, 2 years ago my 20 miler was an average pace of 10:20mm and I could not move for the rest of the day!

My long runs in the last month have looked like this:

  • Week 10 – 18 miles – a good run, a little tough towards the end.
  • Week 11 – 15 miles – my first ‘long run’ after work! I needed to pull the long run a day early so I set out at 4pm after work. I usually feel super groggy after work, but I made sure I didn’t each too much or drink too much coffee and actually, I felt great
  • Week 12 – 17 miles – probably the worst run I have ever done. Ever. I wanted to quit at mile 4 and I had to stop half-way to get my thoughts together. I did it though. I was so proud for sticking with it. I honestly came up with so many excuses I could have given, but I didn’t
  • Week 13 – 20 miles – fantastic, stuck to nutrition intake every 45 mins and felt positive. I did get caught up in an ultra-marathon race for the first part which significantly helped give me a boost, haha!

Strength training

I am still attending Katie’s Core Class on a Wednesday, which has now moved to an online class. I haven’t missed a session since the marathon training began. I am no longer scared of strength training and now that I have managed to fit this (or, Katie has fit it in I should say!) into my training, I will never ever neglect strength training again. Thank you Katie, for letting me attending the last 13 weeks and teaching me so much about strength training for runners, in a way that’s fun and does not disturb my ability to run the next day.

Injury update

On my Instagram (@murphyruns) and on my last blog post, I shared with you that I have had some issues with my calves. Rudi at The Treatment Lab in Milton Keynes gave me a sports massage and some acupuncture. Since then, I’ve had no issues! Remember – stretching is important, even when you feel good. It’s preventive, not just a cure!

What have I learnt in the last few weeks?

1 month ago, I didn’t feel that confident about the marathon. I have no idea why. The training plan I have from Katie is amazing – it pushes me and I can feel myself improving. I still had this nagging feeling though, that I just was not capable of getting a decent time.

In the last few weeks, that really changed. I suddenly found a confidence. I think the biggest thing for me was getting used to running easy/slow. How would I run a sub-9 min mile during the marathon if all my long runs were slower than that?

Suddenly I realised though – I was recovering much, much quicker than I used to after my long runs. I always used to run at a quicker pace during a long run and I would always feel it during the day. This time, by Monday, I am more than ready for the week ahead and I have never needed to take a break due to tiredness.

So, I have really learnt to trust the training plan and to respect those ‘easy runs’.

What’s next?

Who knows what’s next. The last week has been ever-changing. However, for as long as we can go outside (I never thought I would type that. Ever. Let’s never take the little things for granted), I will be running, coached by Katie. Follow me as I keep active and keep up the fitness I have just developed over the last 13 weeks before I phase back into marathon training, and watch me smash a sub-4 hour marathon in September.

Happy Running. It’s a tough time but remember, if you take each day on it’s own and avoid trying to answer ‘what if?’ scenarios, then you’ll be absolutely fine.

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