Marathon Training – just like baking a cake

Yes, yes, I know, it’s been a couple of months since my last marathon training update, but it has been tough finding all the time to squeeze the training in around everyday life, let alone write about it, so unfortunately the updates had to go on the back burner until now.

I’m not going to document every single session here, but I’ll give a general overview of the types of training I’ve been putting in over the last few months. While writing this post I stumbled upon the similarities between marathon training and baking, hence ‘Baking a Marathon Cake’ (I may have just made this analogy up in my head!).

First, build the miles

If you’ve been reading my posts up to now you’ll know that the key part of my marathon training this year has been building mileage, something which I was a little nervous about due to the problems I had increasing mileage while training for my first marathon. Surprisingly I haven’t really had any problems other than some minor niggles and twinges which I’ve come to learn are generally part of running. A couple of things I believe have helped are firstly the cut back weeks, cementing the previous few weeks training before pushing onto the next, and secondly, a specific early training block of distance building with only a minimal amount of speed-work. This has resulted in going from an average of 25-30 miles per week last summer to averaging around 60 – 65 miles per week over the last couple of months without any real problems, other than finding the time to get the miles in. Where a 5k run used to be quite a common occurrence, I’m now more likely to be running 6 – 8 miles as my shorter runs.

Sprinkle with a little speed

After the early mileage building I moved on to a period of sustaining the extra distance while building in some threshold runs and longer runs incorporating a block of running at my target marathon pace. Which nicely brings me on to one of the trickiest things I’ve found about this process, the target marathon pace. If you’d asked me what my target marathon pace would be at the start of the training, I’d have given you a very different answer than I would now, which may or may not be different to the pace I’ll run on marathon day! This ‘marathon pace’ is in a constant slate of flux during the training and is relative to each specific point in the plan.

Mix together at full power

My current training block is quite specific to speed work, while again maintaining mileage, including interval work and races between 6 miles and half marathon. This block of training is hardest on the body and is where most of the niggles have started to appear. To maintain the mileage while putting the extra strain of hard speed-work through the legs is a balancing act and at it’s peak I took a couple of days off to ensure I didn’t cause myself an injury.

Wait patiently

The next stage will be the ominous taper, where both time and running speed will appear to get slower, the niggle and twinge gremlins will be at their most powerful, and doubts will creep in!

If you haven’t checked it out yet I can recommend Advanced Marathoning by Peter Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas. This has been at the core of my training this year and I’ve found it a really useful resource, along with the included training plans which I used as basis for my own plan.

Training for a Marathon? Let me know in the comments!

Photo by raul gonza|ez

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