Today we are treated to a guest appearance from our very own Lucy Marvell who speaks about her experience training for The London Marathon.
Running the London Marathon was something I’d had on my bucket list for a while, but for me, like many others, the timing never seemed right. Thinking about the hours of training required months before the actual marathon itself, made it much easier to say ‘hmm yeh, maybe one day’. In 2018, one of my friends who’s a very keen runner convinced me (aided by a few glasses of wine) to submit an application for the 2019 London Marathon. Much to my surprise (dismay), it was accepted (frantically start looking for 'couch to 5k' guides!).
‘Excited’ is how I’d describe the first part of my training. I found a training schedule that spanned 4 months. To be honest, I had no idea how long it would take to train for a marathon, 4 months seemed daunting! The plan was stuck on my fridge with all good intention to abide by it. Now, the only thing I hadn’t factored in is my job. Working as a Financial Services Consultant can require me to work from any location with very little notice. As luck would have it, this is exactly what happened 1-week into my training. I was placed on an exciting, new project - the only issue? To get there I needed to board a 6am flight from Heathrow every Monday... and often get back to London late Thursday evening.
I packed my training schedule in my suitcase and off I went. It didn’t take me long to get into a routine. Typically, i'd finish work, go for a run around Dublin city centre and then enjoy a meal out or Deliveroo back at my hotel in the evening. For the first few weeks, this seemed fantastic. I was able to see a little bit more of Dublin before treating myself to a restaurant meal – what could be better?
The marathon training programme I’d chosen was quite intense. It spanned 17 weeks, and required 3 runs and 1 strength session per week. The variety of these sessions was something I enjoyed – one day I’d do a run at an easy pace, the next at my threshold or marathon pace. Having this variety prevented the training from becoming too monotonous. That said, there were times when I struggled to fit all of the training in. Sometimes working late in the office meant I wouldn’t get out to run until 9/10pm at night. This wasn’t too bad but it meant my running routes were restricted. I didn't fancy running the dark streets of Dublin which meant becoming friendly with the River Liffey!
Running past The Custom House in Dublin
The plan also suggested one long run a week, ranging from 15 – 32km, which I only had time to do on the weekends when back in London. This provided a bit of a challenge as the weekends were the only time I could catch up with friends and family. I managed to get into a pattern of being social on Saturdays and making Sundays the run days.
After keeping this routine up for a couple months I started to notice the rate of progress in my training had actually slowed down. I was experiencing more injuries than usual and my general fitness didn’t feel as good as when I’d first started the training programme. It was only then that it dawned on me: the restaurant meals and working abroad lifestyle had a much bigger impact on my training than I realised. I’d completely underestimated the importance of good nutrition, and as a result I’d started to pay the price. Those days where I felt 'off' were becoming more and more frequent.
La Caverna - My Favourite Italian Restaurant in Dublin!
I started looking for a workaround. Thankfully, Dublin has a great restaurant scene. I was able to find a number of local restaurants and takeaways, which were healthier and gave my body the nutrition it needed. I focused more on going to the gym in order to reduce the chance of injury. I also made sure every meal I had offered me some form of nutritional benefit.
This change made a massive difference. I felt less sluggish, and started to see the improvement in my training again – just in time too as the 28th April came round fast! I completed the marathon in the time of 4 hours 30 minutes. Slower than I'd hoped? Maybe - but with the training hiccups and injuries I’d had along the way I was over the moon! The actual day itself was incredible, and for sure will be a day that I never forget.
There’s no doubt that traveling to and from Dublin in the lead up to the marathon provided a few challenges. That said, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. In my mind, facing those challenges and overcoming them made my whole marathon experience that bit more memorable.