The Eiffel Tower

The months of training are almost at an end. Early mornings.  Late night runs.  Speed sessions.  Time spent by yourself.  Constant stretching.  Sore and tired legs.  Many ask “why do you do this to yourself?”  I can honestly say I have loved every second.  That does not mean it has all been easy.  As many of my Instagram posts have shown, there have been some difficult runs over the last few months.  The marathon is a challenge.  The training keeps you fit.  It requires dedication.  The road allows you to escape – a place where you are alone with your thoughts, and if you love running enough, it allows you to truly relax!  My amazing wife has been training hard as well preparing for spring half marathons.  She has been crushing PBs in training sending a wave of optimism through the house ahead of the racing season.  Enjoying each others progress has been a big part of this programme.  Hopefully in a few weeks we will both be celebrating great races!

Snow Run

The Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris it is for me.  I love Paris and have done since first visiting as a school boy.  The history, the beautiful buildings, the culture, and the atmosphere grab me every time I am lucky enough to return.  From a marathon perspective it has been a very happy stomping ground for me.  It is where I broke 3 hours for the first time in 2013. While also being the scene of my current PB of 2:48 in the 2016 edition.  But there is more to these two runs than simply the times.  Both represent the races where I have managed things the best.  I have kept a strict pace, been disciplined and reached the finish line on the Avenue Foch without any major dramas.  Two smooth runs from start to finish without any of the dreaded last six mile deterioration that other marathons have hit me with.  Lots of reasons to be hopeful ahead of my third visit.

L’Arc de Triomphe

Then there is the course.  A site seeing tour like no other.  A packed Champs-Elysees, Place de la Concorde, the Bastille (twice), Châteaux de Vincennes, Notre Dame, the banks of the Seine, the Louvre, the Grand Palais, the Eiffel Tower, the Bois de Boulogne and finally a finish in the shadow of L’Arc de Triomphe.  Not many courses can claim to be that interesting from start to finish – the City of Lights is a magical place!

How has training been?  I am very optimistic.  After my injury in September/October last year I have recovered well.  Some time off has rejuvenated me and made me hungry for more.  I have been disciplined.  I built the mileage early in the programme and maintained things through the Beast from the East.  I went out in the snow and looking back I am pleased it didn’t last long, but it was fun.  A nice change and some amazing runs.  I have done five runs in excess of 20 miles, maxing out at 22.  I have included long race pace sections within the longer stuff which not only has been a great training aid, but what a way to build confidence that you can run quickly on tired legs.  If cumulative distance is of paramount importance, a PB for distance in March by more than 20 miles is more reason for optimism.

The Final Long Run

The speed work and hard training in the build up to Amsterdam is still in the tank.  My VO2 Max has pushed towards an all time high.  My final leg test over 10 miles could not have gone any better.  The aim was to cruise at my intended marathon pace.  In the end I increased the pace because it felt so comfortable and cruised the 10 miles in 1:00:28 – the exciting thing is that it was so comfortable and 7 seconds per K faster than my intended race pace.  Never before have I experienced a run like that so deep into the programme when cumulative fatigue should be taking its toll.

One of the great things about running is the chance to socialise.  Catching up with friends like the Red Fox (I think he is called Stuart 🙂 ) and Paddy has added more fun to training.

With the Red Fox

For the first time I am going for a 2 week instead of a 3 week taper.  The signs so far are good.  I am into the final week and I do not feel like going stir crazy quite yet.  I think I will control the urge to do more this week.  I have three easy runs planned and will cover a total of 11 miles before the start of the race.  All easy with some strides.  I am also entered into the Saturday Breakfast Run in Paris – A DJ led carnival of running, travelling 5k from the Louvre to a stop directly underneath the Eiffel Tower.  Not a place you can run everyday and a run that encapsulates why I love running.  Running is a time when you can challenge yourself, be competitive with yourself, strive for times, but genuinely enjoy the accomplishments of others.  The running community is so positive.  We want each other to do well.  It is about achieving personal goals whatever they may be, as well as celebrating the joy and achievement of others that creates a feel good that keeps us coming back.

So as the title says – the “marathon training is done – its almost time for the fun!”

Thanks to Unsplash for the Paris images.