Training Not going to Plan

Afternoon all!

Right, I have a dilemma that I thought that you helpful and knowledgeable people might be able to help out with. It's quite a long post but please bear with me.

As some of you may or may not know I'm training at the moment for the New Forest marathon. This is supposed to be an interim goal race on the way to FLM08 and doing about 50mile/week atm. I entered after Edinburgh didn't quite to plan and a combination of factors (too fast too early/race Nutrition/windy course(!) put be about 25mins behind my goal time of 3:15. The rest of the year was supposed to be doing some shorter stuff (up to half mara) to get speed up but after Edinburgh I wanted to get another mara in and NF fitted the bill but it falls infront of other planned races (GSR, Windsor Half, Cabbage Patch 10 and a couple of 10ks)

Recently I've been having second thoughts on account of,
1. training doens't seem to be going as well as I hoped.
2. Going to be busy over the next few weeks and fitting it all in is going to be hard.
3. slight loss of mojo.
4. Starting to pick up a lot of niggles - Left foot PF intermitently causing problems/Left calf strain still not right/right foot AT is sore the last few days.

Option 1 - Continue training as planned and run NF marathon. Pros - another marathon under the belt and a reason to keep the mileage high, hence build the endurance for FLM 2008. cons - not likely to do a great time in NFM or following races.

Option 2 - Sack off NF mara, but keep mileage highish and race in the shorter races - aiming for a good time. Pros - good mileage base for FLM maintained without the breakdown following marathon in sept. Good times to be (hopefully achieved) in a number of races. Cons - Missed Marathon and experience. Revised goal for FLM.

Option 3 - Sack off NF mara - take a couple of weeks off, let body recover and then start a long FLM build up taking in the other races on the way. Pros - good prep for FLM, good chance of decent times in races later in the year. Cons - as Option 2 + loss of fitness.

Option 4 - Accept that NF is going to be rubbish time wise but will be good experience and training but don't "race" it. Pros - another marathon under the belt. Cons - maybe a bit too much and and not be able to recover in time for other races, therefore lose out in all races.

Long post - sorry but any advice would be really useful.

Happy days y'all!



  • Well, FIngers, I can see a couple of things from your concise posting! Firstly, you haven't had much of a break since Edinburgh and, considering you feel you didn't do yourself justice, you may be feeling stale and a bit negative from doing so much for not much reward.

    One could ask, why do you want to do NF marathon just 'to get another marathon under your belt'? Surely a good, trained-for marathon is better than just a mark in the race diary? The distance is a major challenge and should be given the respect it requires

    I'd recommend taking some time out as the injuries are knocking at the door (having had PF this year, I speak from experience) and seem to be linked to each other. Try some calf exercises to prevent further injury to them or you could go down the route that I went, which led to injury and complete lack of mojo.

    You've got 8 months until FLM08; build up the calves and associated muscles and prevent PF and other problems and it could be your year!
  • Rest and a long build up to FLM seem the best options to me.

    Sounds like a break is needed and I reckon some of those other races will get you decent results. Going into a marathon feeling you are not going to do yourself justice could be asking for a dnf.
  • SticklessStickless ✭✭✭
    How many marathons have you run?

    It may be a plus not having to regain fitness, but maintaining a high level of fitness between now and FLM 08 is a pretty punishing mental routine.

    I am just plain old, but for my money it is worth allowing the fitness to slide for a while to give the head a rest. Less mileasge, more speed for the 10k's and the 10 miles, and take it easy for a couple of months. Then it is easier to say, right, new season, only 6 months (or 5 or..), and I'll stick with the early mornings/lunchtime runs whatever to get the miles in.

    On the day, running a marathon will make demands on your head, but that's nothing in comparison to the mental stamina required to meet a tough training schedule. Give your head a rest.

    3 is therefore my choice. I'm doing the same sort of thing at the other end of the running spectrum. Since Connemara I've hardly run over 4 miles, but I have worked quite hard at running fluently and keeping feet active. Yeah, it's a pest, having to reconquer old ground, but the possibility of running freely instead of my old hobble is exciting enough for me to persevere with the plan.
  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭
    I agree with Fell Liker that (in my extremely limited experience) marathons deserve a lot of respect and it doesn't sound like your heart's really in it for NF.

    Why not chose a HM as your target race for the mid-term (with shorter preparation races in the mean time)? Subject to injury problems you can keep up a relatively busy schedule which will give you a good base to build on for FLM 08, but if the injuries start playing up you can rest up as necessary and still do more justice to a HM than a marathon.
  • Fingers - I agree with the others.

    You don't have to take 2 weeks off completely though - just run half an hour every other day. If you take 2 weeks off completely - you have to start from scratch and you'll find it tough even to get started again!

    You should only set a marathon goal time once you see all pointers heading in that direction. Once you have to have built up your miles nicely and then after you've run a few races you'll see what kind of shape you are in.

    Don't set yourself up for failure by trying for a time that you've just picked out of the air. As you say - you have to also run to the conditions of the day.

    You could on the other hand find that 3.15 is a walk in the park for you and the goal you've set for yourself this far out is too easy - you only really know what is realistic, the closer you get to the marathon.

    Once you've done the work and you'll want to get your best result.

  • Oh dear, now on looking at the Training thread, I see you did a good 18 mile run, how many long runs have you done?

    You've only got August to go - just check New Forest is 16 Sep. Are you sure you are not just backing out 'cause it is starting to get hard?

    Only you will know all this - if you've got to this stage might be a shame to waste it.

    Sounds like your other marathon didn't go to plan - if you do decide to do this one, why not run to how you feel without the time expectation.

    I'm always good for "a bob each way";-)
  • FINgers - its a bit of a dilemma, way I see it is thus:

    There's no point running the NF marathon if you are losing your mojo. Long term it might only spoil your general enjoyment of running. Also racking up the high mileage for sake of it is not going to do you any favours.

    Backing off, skipping NF and focusing on FLM08 with some shorter races if you want some intermediate goals may be better for restoration of mojo, body and mind. That said, given recent training regime may find it mentally as tough to back off as to keep going.

    Having been in similar dilemma myself and failing to take any of my own advice then am in no position to give you real advice. That said, I think ducking out of NF, easing down to 30-40 miles a week to tick over, maybe focusing on some shorter and quality sessions, popping in a race or two into the calendar if you want to and then focusing on FLM08 is the way to go.

    I am favouring that approach myself, although the daily grind of running often overshadows the enjoyment still. Had intended myself to back right off over summer but so far has not come to much - still racking up the miles and causing mental / physical brick wall to be hit. So from personal experience I would favour the latter, but make sure you stick to intention of backing off :)
  • Hey People,

    Thanks for all who have responded.

    FL - Yes I take your point on the injuries. I had two very easy weeks after Edinburgh which I thought would be enough but maybe not. I guess I used the wrong expression "getting one under my belt" - I do give it respect but what I meant is that I'll have run another one as a valuble lesson.

    Ultra AJH - That is what I what I am worried about - maybe it is a confidnece thing, I don't think dnf would be an option (i'm very stubborn!) but if I have a bad race then it could do more harm than good.

    Stickless - I've run 3 now. I take your point about the mental side of things - I did an 18 week plan up to Edinburgh, then had 1 week off totally, then an easy week and then started on 15 week plan to NF which included further gentle build/recovery weeks at the start - it does get demanding to keep "getting out there".

    PhilPub - It's just occoured to me that there is a half being run on the same day at NF - perhaps that is an option.

    JJ - Cheers, I'm a P&D man myself but will check out the plans.

    NZC - Yes you see my dilema - it does seem a shame to waste the training. I've picked the goals by using recent(ish) race times over half maras to get an idea. I don't think that I'm backing out 'cus its getting hard, I'm just worried that maybe I'm now starting to do more damage than good. Following 4 weeks of upto 12 miles, Medium Long/Long runs on the weekend have been as follows: 13, 15, 16, 13, 16, 18. Last 3 weeks have had a 12 - 15 miler on a wednesday as well.

    Thanks again for all your time. I'm now having a think, but the general opinion here seems to be back off for now and focus on the shorter stuff after a couple of easier weeks.

    Mmmm, what to do?

  • X-post StM - yes lack of Mojo is maybe a bigger factor than I first thought, although on the days that I don't run I do miss it and also feel almost guilty that I should be out there racking up the miles, but then when I'm out there (sometimes) it does seem to be a grind.

  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    Think it depends on your mara experience, however I also note your problems with niggles and aches.

    I'm hoping to go 3h-3h15 at FLM, and having run a mara in June (South Downs) have also entered two more marathons this year (Clarendon and Beachy Head). It should be noted though that although not in the 'big boys' league I have done about a dozen marathons. I've entered purely to motivate me to do the miles (I usually average 30-40 mpw) and although I have a time in mind (3h45-4h00) they are only part of the masterplan. Indeed I'm doing the former with a 4h30 marathon mate of mine.

    In your case I suspect that you are more of a marathon novice (apologies if I am mistaken) and given your shorter race targets I would suggest running the NF will be more detrimental than motivational (even with a revised target)I can only see more downsides than up. Rebalancing your training to target London, with some key races along the way where you can achieve realistic goal times will only serve to increase your mojo. It will also be less damaging to your injuries.

    One thing I have learnt is that marathons are as much mental as physical, and believe me beyond FLM 2008 you'll be analysing and rehashing plans. If and only if, you feel you could run NF slowly with no negative impacts (mental and physical) then I see no reason why you wouldn't. However if you listen to all the advice and be honest with yourself (and I'm near the bottom of the class in that respect) then it'll be better to skip the race.


  • FIN
    "although on the days that I don't run I do miss it and also feel almost guilty that I should be out there racking up the miles, but then when I'm out there (sometimes) it does seem to be a grind". Sounds all too familiar :)
  • FINgers

    On what did you base your 2.50 target time for Edinburgh?

    If you are following a respected training plan then maybe your training is actually going well but you were just overly ambitious about what you could achieve at E'burgh.

    I would imagine that to run 2.50 you would have needed to be running around 3.05 six months earlier (or 65 min 10 miler).

    If your times haven't improved in the last six months then you really do need to re-think your training.

  • Got confused there for a moment JRM - 2:50 where did that come from?!?! Now I realise... My goal time was 3:15-3:20 and I came in 3:44. Not the other way round....


  • Oh just to note - I based the 3:15 on my a Half marathon of 1:34 that I ran about 6(?) weeks before at the end of a 55 mile week. So I don't think that I was being over optimistic with my time.

  • Fingers - looking again at what you've already done - why don't you try an easy 20 miler this weekend, not worrying about time and if it feels o'kay it might help you make your decision.

    You could go for 3.30 for New Forest and then it is not such a big hunk that you have to take off that for London.

  • Thanks very much for all your comments. Having considered carefully my position I think that the way forward is as follows.

    What with a lack of Mojo, lots of niggles appearing and generally the "wrong head" for New Forest I think that the best way forward is to sack it off. :(

    But all is not lost. I have a backup plan....

    I am going to forget about running for the rest of this week - and not worry that I'm not training (or at least try to!). Then next week follow NZC's suggestion and go out for some easy short runs later in the week. This will give me a good few days of R&R.

    Then start to train easy again - GSR is about 12 weeks away from now so can build gently for that with a lot of endurance already in the bag, now concentrating on LT and VO2max. P&D have good less that 50 per week sched that will fit nicely and Windsor Half falls 4 weeks earlier on a "long" run weekend of 13 miles so can run that as training.

    The maximum that the sched builds to is 50 m/w but that is 7 weeks from now, so the reduced training load will do me good also.

    I am disapointed to not be running NF but looking at the positives, I have a good endurance base now so should be able to train well now and get a (hopefully) good pb at GSR.

    Then 24 week build up to FLM08 starts.... just got to get a ballot place now!....

    Thanks again for all the comments - if anyone has anything to add, please feel free!....

    Happy days y'all!

  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    does that mean there is a NF number going spare...?

  • LOL Dustin!......
  • Fingers

    Well i have to say a a retired runner due to injury my experience is limited but in my humble opinion it sounds like you are pushing yourself to hard evey body/mind has a breaking point and your body will only sustain you for so long before it crashes, it sounds like your body and mind need a time out, relax take 2 weeks off, chill out and rest up mentally and physically then start again in 2 weeks ready for a new challenge, raring to go with plenty of energy and mental strength, there is no point running the NF Mara if your not going to get what u want from it, u know if u dont get 3.15 you'll be dissapointed and then you'll be knackered mentally and physically u wont have got your goal and it may impact your other races which mean more to u, NF was never in the plan just knock it back out, rest up and come back strong for the races u want more, GSR, Windsor etc.

    Be kind to your body and it will be kind to you push to hard and you'll get injuries galore - trust me on this i know!

  • Fingers - sounds like you now have a good plan - enjoy!

    Hope Hilly and BR had a lovely day.

    What: 6 miles flat - easy with mates.

    Must do something a bit longer today.

    Happy running everyone.
  • Think I've lost the plot - thought I was adding my comments to the daily thread!
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