Two week marathon
I’m always looking to push myself to achieve harder and harder things. So when I got the potential opportunity to run the 2016 Brighton marathon with only two weeks notice, I jumped at the chance.
Can I do this? Is it dangerous? What does it mean to run a marathon? Is it even possible? All these questions went out of the window with my Yes Man! attitude so I formulated a 14 day training plan to give myself the best possible chance.
So before beginning this training plan, I was able to run a 5k at around 23 minutes, but that was the limit of my exercise having just returned from an injury. I did in fact complete the whole training plan and the marathon with ankle damage that ruled me out of football, but felt fine for running and generally had a good level of fitness.
With only 2 weeks, or 14 days to prepare, I knew I would have to get some decent mileage in but to balance that I would need a good rest before race day. With this in mind, I decided to compact all my training into the first week, and give myself a clear 7 days to recover for the event.
I ran two long runs, starting at half marathon distance (13.1 miles) and finishing with a 17 miler at nearly ¾ distance, either side of a 5k speed run. That’s it; 3 runs, I knew if I could get through them then my will and determination—along with the crowd support on the day—would get me to the end of the marathon.
1) CONDITION THE BODY
Run a half marathon—13.1 miles.
Running the half marathon was the hardest of all three training legs. I managed to keep a steady pace for the first 9 miles but then things went downhill very fast. It was a real struggle to hold on until the end, I hadn’t ran anywhere near this distance for a long time so I was indeed conditioning my body to sustain the metronomic pounding it receives during long distance running.
2) CONDITION THE PACE
Run a fast 5k. Get your legs working and your breathing going.
Looking back, I’m not sure this step was as appropriate as it seemed at the time, but I wanted to mix up the training as much as I could within the week by running a personal best in the 5k. I prefer to run at pace rather than jogging along comfortably so this obviously works well for me, but you may prefer to do a different kind of training here, perhaps hill repeats.
3) CONDITION THE MIND
Run 17 miles—nearly ¾ distance.
The next logical step is obviously to increase the distance to nearly three quarters.
RUN THE MARATHON
I know from my first marathon that you get a certain buzz and energy on the day itself, from the crowd mainly but also from the adrenalin and nerves at the start. I also knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to get to the end of the marathon without stopping, due to the significant lack of training. Therefore I decided to blitz the first half of the marathon, running it at 4 hour pace in order to get the miles and time under my belt ahead of the tricky second half. I’d feel much better about stopping knowing that I was ahead of schedule!
My body stopped working at mile 21, from here on in it was a tough battle against pain to get to the finish. I spent a mile or so walking and struggling to jog on and off, until finally a couple ran past me pushing a pram gave me enough of a kick to get to the finish.
So, can you run a marathon with just two weeks training? Well I guess that depends on your definition of running a marathon. I was not able to get to the end without stopping, though perhaps by running at a slower pace for the first half, and replacing the speed training session with another distance run, I may have been able to. But I doubt it.