Two Marathons, one month. Catch up with with Simon's Marathon training.

Last time we spoke, Simon had just come off the back of an incredibly busy January whilst also starting to build his preparations for both the Paris and London Marathons.


The first 4-5 weeks of the year were designed to be the foundation laying stage of the block, with February being the time we would build on the fitness and get our first progress marker of the block too.


And push on, we did! With two long runs of around 2 hours and 30 mins to start the month, these were key workouts designed to develop aerobic endurance. Generally, I rarely send my athletes out for over 2:30hrs during a marathon block to ensure that we don’t reach a stage of non-functional overreaching. I have spoken about this before within these blogs, and I recommend you look at the SPORT principle blog for more information on this topic!


Simon took to these runs very well, completing the sessions as prescribed and adding 80 and 90 minutes of running at Marathon effort. These sessions, I find, are very specific to the Marathon and replicate the physical and mental conditions your body gets to during the full event. As we (usually) cannot run a full marathon in training, these sessions are the closest we can get. It’s also about training efficiency. By getting these blocks in at Marathon pace as a Coach, I can tick off a long run, marathon efforts, intervals effort and a medium-long run in 3 runs rather than 4. This allows us to either get more time for recovery/life/working life and have a greater emphasis on doing easy running rather than having to run hard every time we head out the door!


The main target in February was the Wokingham Half Marathon on the 26th of February. I believe there is excellent value in doing a hard Half-Marathon during a Marathon block. Firstly, because you are doing so much endurance work, it’s good to capitalise on that work and run fast off the back of that. Furthermore, it’s a perfect progress marker for us to compare fitness to previous blocks and predict further where Simon’s marathon target should be. Brilliant conditions greeted us on the morning of the race. The weather was a little cold, but the sun was out, and there was a gentle breeze. Our aim was to capitalise and target a PB. Simon’s finishing time of 1:36:27 was his 2nd fastest time, and whilst it was not the PB we had aimed for, there were a lot of positives to take home from it.

Image: @RyanJamieJohnson


Firstly, the run was only around 50 seconds slower than the PB set in December last year. Yet the physiological output required of Simon to run that time was much lower this time around. This shows a good increase in aerobic fitness for the two runs. In addition, psychologically, Simon felt he was much stronger during the Wokingham race, which again is a really positive sign. To be that close to a PB and be ‘in control’ is always a good take-home. I was around the 11-mile marker and watching Simon run, I could tell he wasn’t in too much trouble, which is good, especially when we will be doubling the distance in a month’s time!


I was also really impressed with Simon’s mentality going into the race. He was focused on the process goals we had discussed in the build-up and pre-race rather than being focused on the outcome. This is a real buzzword in PGC1 – Focus on the process, and the outcome will take care of itself. I wanted to focus on how the race felt and how we would tackle each stage of the race mentally rather than the numbers on the GPS watch. When you do all those small things right during a race, such as regulating a pacing strategy by attacking the downhills and pulling back on the uphills, this will help you get closer to your desired outcome. Races rarely go entirely to plan, so having a flexible process-based plan always helps! 


The area we are aiming to work on for the next race (Milton Keynes 20-mile race) is trying to focus on the effort and how it feels. As we are completing two major city marathons, the GPS watch on race day will have some issues picking up satellites. So Simon needs to be very in tune with how the effort will feel. The aim of Sunday’s race is to run 20 miles at target Marathon effort and see how we fare. Although Simon will still have a long-haul flight in his legs, this will add some fatigue to the body, which will help us replicate Marathon conditions, so there’s a silver lining!


The 20-mile race sits three weeks out from Paris and six weeks out from London. Our aim after the race will be to maintain good aerobic condition so that we can give both Paris and London full effort. The timing of these events being 3 weeks apart means that Simon should be just about fully recovered from Paris when we line up in London. However, the proximity of the events means we aren’t able to launch a full taper for Paris, as this will see Simon run London in a lower-than-optimal physical condition. So the plan from my end at this stage is to do as much as we can pre-Paris to maximise physical condition for London without overdoing it and starting Paris fatigued. We will be striking a fine balance, but as the old quote goes: “what doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t change you!”


Seeing Simon’s progress again this month was great. Looking back at the athlete I met two years ago on a SKINS photoshoot and the athlete I saw on the rural roads of Berkshire, the growth and development have been outstanding. Simon embodies how hard work, consistency, and no excuses reward you with big results. So keep going, Simon and a massive well done!

Image: @RyanJamieJohnson


The intensity of the marathon prep really caught up with me this month, like running into a wall at full pelt. I was certainly carrying some fatigue from my travels in January, but I continued to adhere to Josh’s training plan. Around mid-month, on a PGC1WorkoutWednesday, everything felt like it was falling apart. Nothing felt right from the moment I pressed go on the Garmin, my legs were heavy, and in my head, I started to wobble. I couldn’t hit my stride or find my pace. My body revolted against everything my head was telling it to do. It was perhaps the most unfit I have felt in years, and I finished the session incredibly deflated. Listening to my body, I spoke with Josh, who suggested I skip the next session to recover. I rested for an extra day and bounced back stronger, both physically and mentally. In the first race of the season, whilst not achieving a PB, I did grow in confidence for the Marathon as I felt strong with plenty left in the tank at the end of the race. As I write this, it’s less than four weeks until Paris, but once again on a long-haul flight, this time to the US. That doesn’t mean any let up in my training program nor racing with a 20 miler looming 48hrs after my return to London…always pushing and moving forward!


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