Sub 3 hour marathon training diary – Week 3

Week three: 12/31/2018

Around Christmas and New Years, there is a huge feel good factor, which leads to people wanting to change or improve something. Motivation to improve oneself isn’t a bad thing, however I don’t believe that motivation is enough on its own to be the best version of yourself.

During the Christmas week it’s crazy busy, for family commitments and for a multitude of other reasons. I was also still unwell from the previous week, so no motivational quote or song was enough in itself to get me out of the door.

In the journey of seeing what your best looks like, running has taught me, that you won’t feel like it, you may not feel ready etc. However consistently show up and know what your why’s are.

My last marathon in New York I earned a PB, ultimately I know that I did the best I could on the day. It’s one of my favourite courses to run, due to the incredible support on an undulating course through the five boroughs.

I ran the first half in 1:32 and was on target for a low 3 hour finish, however I got my fuelling strategy wrong and that slowed me down. It’s these “setbacks” that drive me to keep going, to keep getting back up, and seeing what my best looks like over the marathon distance.

This “setback” fuelled me to get a 1:25 half marathon PB weeks after New York.

The more I run, the more I see it as a game. Not in a whimsical sense.

When you turn up to play the game (race day) you have to be comfortable knowing that the rules of that day, probably will be harder than the ones that you’d choose.

Therefore it’s about using the tools and strengths that you already have to play the rules of the game on that day, to the best of your ability.

So I don’t train to just excel in perfect conditions, I now train to excel in less than ideal conditions. I train to know that I have the strength, courage, adaptability to be able to play to the rules of the day for the game (race) I’m taking part in.

So when I’m training, I don’t just look to the good parts, I look to embrace all of it, including the difficult parts. I use those “setbacks” as “setups” for strengthening my mind come race day.

Evening double run

Weekly training from Coach John:

This weeks target set by Coach John, was running six days with one double session, making a weekly total of 61 miles.

Double running is helpful for a number of reasons, and could be an article itself. However I’ll briefly focus on just two benefits.

Firstly running in a depleted state can train the body to use glycogen more efficiently.

Secondly it can stimulate mitochondria production, which increases your oxygen-carrying capacity.

Be mindful that the extra work is taxing your body, so for double sessions it’s important that you get enough sleep, and eat at least two hours before the later session so you don’t burn out.

However I’d be mindful to discuss it with your coach first, to see if doubles will help you specifically. People are different and some sessions work better for some and hinder others. So there’s people that rightly praise hill repeats, however everyone has some imbalance in their running form, and hill sprints aggravate mine, so I don’t do them.

Peak & trough from the previous week:

The trough. With a residual sickness on the way out from the last week, I felt rough most of the week, including my rest day (Christmas Day).

So there were a series on mini troughs, one was my weekend workout target run (16 miles) where I ran average 12 seconds per mile slower over the distance. It’s not a tragedy by any stretch of the imagination, I did the best I could on the day, and now it’s onto the next one.

Post workout my ASICS teammate Jack Schofield reminded me of this truth: “Don’t worry about your pace, worry about your effort. If your effort was there that’s all that counts… the paces will come as a product of that!”

When your Apple Watch 4 encourages you 💥💯

The peak. I did two short strides as part of my easy runs by doing 6 x 45 seconds on, and 80 seconds off. My first session I averaged 6’14 per mile, and the second I averaged 5’42 per mile.

Performance psychology advice:

Stuart Holliday is a performance psychologist, who trains both amateur and elite athletes. He’s worked for Liverpool FC Academy; Team GB Olympic Archery; England Netball, Santus and ASICS. This week I asked him the following question.

Stuart and myself

MB: During the winter, when your motivation to train maybe low, how do you put this to one side and get out of the door?

SH: So how do you build a foundation for a house? Through sheer hard graft. Sometimes in the sunshine, sometimes in a blowing gale. But before you build your ‘house’ (the conditioning, speed and ability to hold pace for 26.2), you have to go through some tougher than you’d like training runs.

These might be long, they might be short. But it’s those ones where you lay the foundations for the good stuff to happen later in your training and everything to ‘click.’

It’s not about motivation, but I talk to my clients about commitment. Your motivation can fluctuate – it almost definitely will over 3 months, but you need to be committed to the process to get out the door and train.

There will be days where you don’t go out. It’s best to avoid making those days a habit, but if it’s your brain and body guiding you to take a rest, it is best to listen. Marathon training is a constant balance between fulfilling the obligations of training with maintaining a body and mind that might be frequently in deficit.

As with most sporting endeavours, the knack is to stand back and look at the bigger picture. Will that extra run make a difference? Or if you’re too tired, will you benefit from both the physical rest that is needed to allow you to then go out the next day and take on your next session fresher and be more capable?

Take that ownership and if you need help in the decision making process, run it past a coach or friend for a quick ‘sanity check’. And good luck in your base building. It should be a fun experience!

If you want to work on developing your running performance, you can get in touch Stuart via the following channels:

– Instagram: @focusedmindcoaching

– Email:

This weeks recommended podcast for the slow runs:

The podcast Running Rogue, is hugely informative for runners, and they drop a lot of knowledge. In episode 91 they talk about some of the key principles which it takes to train for the marathon distance. To listen click this link.

To follow my journey on Instagram follow the hashtag.


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