I've had a poor couple of weeks for running. A return of my 2005 bugbear, shin splints, stopped me in my tracks for the last 2 weeks of November and only this weekend have I been able to put in a couple of proper runs (one of 6.25km and one of 12.25km). I think I may have beaten the shin splints this time thanks to some intensive self-administered massage (following a technique taught via the shinsplintcure.com site).
I took a look at my progress so far, measured against the last few marathons I've run. The graph below shows training distance in blocks of 30 days counting backwards from the marathon day itself (and including the 43km run on that day):
So far, so good is, I think, the conclusion. I'm tracking some way ahead of the distances I covered in previous training regimes. This isn't part of some kind of grand plan to do more mileage, just a reflection of getting two good runs in each weekend - one of 12km and often another of 16-20km. I've dismally failed to get any mid-week runs in for most of the last 4 months and will have to correct that once I get to January.
You can see from the Paris 1999 chart how little training I did (I ran 4:13) - 6 years and 30lbs later, I struggled through London (4:44) and then in 2006 I ran London in 3:51, after a much more disciplined (and less injury-inflicted) training routine; NY was 3:58, despite the apparently higher mileage in the last 4 months.
I have set myself a few goals for the run-up to London at the end of April, all aimed at getting to my 3:45 target. They are:
1. Find time for more than 2 runs over 30km. In both of the last two marathons, that's all I managed and I think there is room to do at least two more than that this time. I'm planning to get one per month during January, February, March and April. I'm hoping that this will give me better stamina in the second half of the run. For instance, this graph from London 2006 shows how I slow down from km 33 onwards. I don't think I'm going to deliver a negative split, but I'm sure there's more I can do to reduce the time I lose in the second half.
2. Run fewer distances under 7km. Time being what it is, I often end up getting a quick run in after hours - and all I have time for is 6.25km (that's an easy loop over two bridges and home). I plan to make my shorter runs longer - at least 12km. I know I'll still do the 6.25km loop, but I plan to run it faster, using it less as an easy run and more as a speed training distance. The fastest I've ever run it is 29m 30s, but I tend to average around 32m.
3. Actually follow some kind of varied training plan. My style so far has been "go out and run". I've seen all the fast/slow, hill, wind-sprint and whatever plans laid out, but I've never really tracked against one. Sure, I've tried to run faster each time than I did the time before, but that can't be done every day. So whilst I'm not going to get along with any of the plans I've seen on the web - they all require me to run pretty much double what I run as it is - I am going to vary my routine a little to see if it helps me get closer to my target of 3:45.