Saturday, 1 November 2014

Snowdonia Marathon 2014 - Reflection on training

My highlights inc Team Buff UK - Duane Roberts, Sarah Gardner-hall and me.
Well that was an enjoyable marathon! I know I know... no one should use 'enjoyable' and 'marathon' in the same sentence. It usually means you didn't push yourself hard enough or just didn't care about your time. You hear many utter these words just before the start "I just want to enjoy this one". For me to 'enjoy' a marathon I have to know that I have given it 100%. It's the classic long distance event that in many ways is way harder than an ultra. A perfect blend of speed, stamina and endurance which if you get it right is the most satisfying feeling in the world! 

I enjoyed Snowdonia immensely this year because I felt that I used up every drop of fuel from the tank and did so in a measured and calculated way from the start to the finish. I've learnt the hard way from going out too fast in marathons and now I'm able to subconsciously manage my effort and speed without constantly looking at the Garmin. From the first 3 mile continuous climb up Pen y Pass to the last 2 mile monumental slog up Bwlch y Groes I moved forward with determination, a smile on my face and resolve in my heart. 

Snowdonia Marathon profile and my pace
I love this marathon. The route, the scenery, the organisation, the camaraderie and the side line support are all first class. You really can't fault it. My target time was 3:30 which was based on nothing more than a feeling. I had no right to expect to be able to run this time. The build up to my race was very different to last year. In 2013 I ran a 1:20 half at MK, and 2:59 at London which was all part of the continuous build up to Western States and UTMB where I was clocking consistent 50 miles weeks.

To say that my training this year was a little different would be an understatement. It was... well... non-existent. If you look at run miles in my 16 week build up to Snowdonia then you would probably be wondering how I even finished the race. On average I ran just once a week and less than 10 miles. You won't find this training schedule in Runners World! 

16 week Snowdonia build up: 
July - 4 runs. 48 miles 
August - 4 runs. 35 miles 
September - 2 runs. 10 miles 
October - 6 runs. 47 miles 
TOTAL - 16 runs. 140 miles. 

 So with ALL that training behind me I stood on the start line feeling no pressure and "just looking to enjoy it". Oh no I've fallen in my own trap.

There is no blow by blow account of the race. I just stuck firmly to my game plan of a very steady start up Pen y Pass whilst everyone else took off, easing my way into the race, minimising my effort on the hills and then staying strong throughout the second half when everyone else fades, and saving just enough for the final brutal climb up Bwlch y Groes. It went to the letter. I crossed the finish line in 3:27 and smiled with extreme satisfaction of a job done.

Race splits and stage position
Strava log here

So if I put in just 140 run miles in 4 months how did manage a 3:27 in Snowdonia. Well its not like I was just laid out on the sofa. The ElliptiGO is my recipe for success! :-) Here's my mileage for the same period on the ElliptiGO: 

July - 9 rides. 291 miles 
August - 10 rides. 365 miles 
September - 8 rides. 649 miles 
October - 0 rides. 0 miles 
TOTAL - 27 rides. 1,305 miles

I think it's evident if there was any doubt that training on the ElliptiGO definitely transfers to running and can even produce solid results. I didn't just get around Snowdonia. I was able to run strong, maintain my pace and finish strong. One of the reasons I'm posting this blog is that I think far too many runners still believe that cross-training doesn't really cut the mustard. Its mostly something that runners talk about doing but don't really believe in. They get caught in a continuous cycle of run training that slowly wears them down, leads to injury and unsatisfactory results.

So why not jump on an ElliptiGO and see the difference it can make to your running. It's the best investment you will ever make to the longevity of your running career and it's damn good fun too. 

To read more about how training on an ElliptiGO compares to running and cycling click here.