When will marathon training ever go well?

I’m drifting off to sleep with 19 days to go before the London Marathon, the one race I’ve watched on TV and cheered at and dreamt I would one day run, since I was 5. I’ve got a pain in my left knee from lifting my leg onto my bed and I don’t see how a guy who can’t lift his leg two foot off the ground without being in pain is going to run a marathon in less than three weeks’ time.

And that got me thinking “will I ever have a good training run up to a marathon”, “will it ever go well”. And that just gave me more questions than answers.

How do you define marathon training as going well? I guess that depends, is it based on putting a tick next to every run on your plan, it is having done a run over 20miles, is it just the feeling of confidence before the big day – then again asking me and someone going for sub-3 would probably give a difference answer.

For me, it’s about feeling confident. I don’t feel the need to have every run ticked off my plan, mostly because I do a lot of other things during the week including PT and strength training. This year I reduced my runs from 3/4 a week to just 2 – one 10k and long run at the weekend.

I found when I converted my Berlin plan to London it was just too much and instead of feeling crap for missing a run when it was cold and wet or when I wanted to go to an event or socialise with friends, I wanted to feel good about my running and didn’t want it to be a chore. So I changed it to a plan to fit the new me and it worked, I dare say I was enjoying my running, even the long solo long runs.

Berlin I struggled with my long runs, mentally I wasn’t in the right place before Berlin and that really showed. Before Berlin I’d only done two runs over half marathon (14 & 17.5 miles) and things were looking so much better pre London. I’d got a 15miler in and a 19miler, the furthest I’ve ever gone during training, I’d got into a nice rhythm, I’d already PB’d 5k, 10k and my half times, I was feeling good, feeling strong and it was showing.

However then the wheels fell off. I was at my usual PT class doing a particularly circuit (10x20kg overhead lifts, 10x24inch Box Step ups, 20xReverse Lunges, Sub 2-min 500m Row x4 times round).– nothing too unusual, I’d done all the exercises before.

As I was on the last circuit doing my favourite box step ups, my left knee twinged, I carried on and did another 3 step ups but then I couldn’t put it down on the reverse lunges so moved straight onto the row finisher where it was fine. I was a tad worried as it didn’t feel good but I went home, iced it and convinced with resting it until Limassol it would be fine….it wasn’t. I decided to drop the half down to the 10k after a not completely comfortable 5k on the Saturday. It was ok during the race and afterwards, it could’ve been worse after the race but during the week it just got worse and worse.

Friday I took myself to see Neil at Pure Sports Medicine my physio who assessed it, manipulated it, taped and I came out feeling tons better. However over the weekend it just got worse and worse, until at a visit to the doctors thought I’d potentially ruptured my Quad muscle as I couldn’t perform leg lifts (leg extensions).

Ultrasound done and it was confirmed that I hadn’t ruptured anything and I wasn’t going to be taken straight off to Kingston for surgery to put it back in place.

I’ve spent the last week working from home resting and it’s got a lot better. I have almost no pain at rest, there is more movement in it and I can bend it which is a relief – you have no idea how annoying it is not to be able to bend your knee until you can’t

The other thing that comes with rest is weight issues. I use movement, running, gym, strength training as a way to control and lose weight along with diet. I’ve found it really hard lately to still eat healthily. As I said in my insta post the other day, when I’m active I tend to eat really well, but when I’m injured it all goes in the opposite direction – especially when you’ve got 100-odd Trek bars in the cupboard.

I’ve managed to turn that round a bit this past week and it’s back under control. I’d lost 10kg since I started working with Alice (PT) in early December until mid-march and I didn’t want all of that to go to waste. I’ve put a kilo back on but I can live with that.

So the running issue. I was supposed to be running half of Manchester Marathon in a relay team with Jevi this weekend, however that isn’t going to happen as my knee is incredibly weak – I can’t lift myself up stairs or off the sofa with my left leg yet and we both have London to be ready for. I’ll go cheer and spend some time having fun with friends in Manchester nevertheless.

I had Brighton 10k booked in for the weekend after and I’d like to do it as a test to see how the knee is but right now, I don’t think I’m in condition to do it as the knee just isn’t strong enough. I have the option of just walking it I suppose but I worry that’ll do more damage and to be honest – I am not going to be able to resist the urge to run.

The big one, London, the one I’ve been looking forward to since November, the one I’ve really trained hard for and want to enjoy. That’s the pivotal point right now, I want to enjoy it. If I manage to get to 10, 13, 15, 18miles and things go wrong, I doubt I’ll be able to look back on it and say I enjoyed it if I’m in pain for x miles (and I don’t just mean tired pain, I mean ouchie pain). Plus you never know when you’re going to have the chance to run a race like London again.

My thinking right now is that if I can’t run 6.2miles in Brighton, one week is not long enough to suddenly recover and think I can get around 26.2 miles.

I go to get my MRI results tomorrow, I am expecting there to be nothing seriously wrong (it wouldn’t have improved so much otherwise) and end up going for Physiotherapy. I’ll raise the question there and see how I feel when it comes to Brighton next weekend.

For now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed but reading this back and given the tone I’m not hopeful.

So what if it’s a no. Well, I have a club place, so I can defer for 2019. It means the book I bought the other day will stay on the shelf and I’ll take some proper time out to recover and prepare myself for Race to the Tower (Marathon) and Race to the Stones (50k) and get myself in peak shape (ideally a little less round) for Chicago in October. I’ll come and cheer of course, it’s a magical day either side of the barrier, it just means I’ll be handing out the Jaffa Cakes instead of eating them.

Next race is supposed to be the London 10 Mile on the 13th May, a race I really enjoyed last year and keep an eye out on my social feeds for a competition to win a place!

I’ll keep you updated!