As mentioned after my half-marathon at the end of October last year, I had to decide whether to take the next natural step, or rather the next rather less natural feeling 18,000 steps, to complete a full marathon. It only took a week or two to consolidate my resolve and rashly register myself into two events, the Coatesville Half Marathon in March and the Rotorua Marathon in May. (Rashly because I overlooked another big engagement in May that made the latter event inopportune.) Two months since then and preparation is in full swing. For better or worse, I'm following my own haphazard training plan, relying on tidbits online as well as advice from others. And two months from the Coatesville event, my own vision for training has clarified itself.
Originally when registering, I thought I'd do another half-marathon in preparation for the full marathon. This thought might have diminished the first event itself as just a prelude, but after some thought, both are just distances and events. Being able to master the first as a half marathon is a worthy goal. My self-made strategy thus was to use the summer vacation period to really up my distance, hopefully breaking the 30km ceiling (which I finally did last weekend) and then switch into 90% half-marathon oriented training and 10% marathon training until Coatesville. After a rest of a week, I'd switch back to marathon preparation, taper and then do Rotorua. In retrospect the two events are a little close together. But as long as I train well now, I believe it should be fine.
I'm a numbers man so every run I do is logged for comparison with other runs, with splits (how fast you ran each 1km, 2km or 5km's) and the elevation gain (i.e. how many metres of incline you ran up, not factoring in the descents). I'm still in that nice building up period where I can make personal bests on a regular basis. When I get closer to my peak, hopefully around the time of the marathon, I might have to switch focus by joining a running club and getting something more social out of my running. Right now I'm still hunting for interesting challenges locally as well as bringing my running gear on holidays just in case conditions or the situation allows me a run. As my ability progresses my goals change too: originally I wanted to run Coatesville under 5min/km (which would be touch-and-go scraping into the 1 hour 40 - 1 hour 45 range). After yesterday's run, I felt that I could almost certainly aim for this range.
Yesterday was my first weekend run of my half-marathon training phase. I chose to do an 18km loop with One Tree Hill summit and Mt Eden summit. It was the first time I'd run up Mt Eden and the first time I'd done two Auckland named hills on the same run, which had an elevation gain of 320m according to MapMyRun and I managed it a 5:02min/km pace. With two more months to go, I imagine I should be able to do 21km on a flatter course at a faster pace that 5min/km.
On the social front, I joined a "running clinic" which is a group with guided exercise routines to strengthen muscles, joints and tendons for runners. My first one was last Monday and I look forward to another tomorrow. Some of the particular exercises are quite tough and had me wanting to do preparation before the clinic so that there was no risk of embarrassing fails. The group consisted of people who'd done the clinic before and already knew each other. I felt a little bit like an outsider but I'll see how things change as we get a bit more familiar.
Staying injury-free is the most important thing over the next four months so this group will be as important as an evening run to me. That being said, training for a run like this is a good education on your muscles and joints. The half-marathon last year taught me about IT bands. My only real concern right now is a peculiar left ankle. I've felt tenderness around it for several weeks now, it being most noticeable when I'm not running. In fact, I felt it most during the periods where I haven't been running. Last weekend after running 30km on it, it wasn't any more sore than any other part of my body. At some stage I really should have it checked.
Running was something that was important to me in my late mid-teens, only to be thwarted by flat feet, sprained ankles and a lack of strong goals. I'm glad in my mid-thirties I've been able to work my way towards the goals I could have always had.