How do you train for a VERY hilly marathon? Easy, you train on the hills. That’s exactly what team OMM (Oates, Mitchell, McCrea) did. In preparation for the Lakeland 50 and in between 1:1 coaching sessions for one of our athletes who is undertaking the Welsh 3000 challenge at the end of the month, I have been focussing on my own training.

What does it consist of? Well for two of our group – first-time marathon runners – it meant some really long training sessions and what we call ‘time on your feet’. For anyone who’s trained for a trail/fell marathon or ultra you will already know it’s not about pace or times, it’s simply about negotiating each section you are faced with and thinking through your strategy.What does that mean?

What does that mean? Well, some will have witnessed the explosive starts to some races where everyone fires over the start line, you can often pick off those runners who have not strategically thought about the 26 miles ahead and almost 4,500 ft of climbing. Of course it’s always nice to have a rough finish time in your mind (nobody wants to keep marshals out until the early morning hours) but being realistic depends heavily on the weather on the day, and of course how you feel on the day too. So, back to basics, we had trained well. A succession of weekends filled with long runs and a few back to back hard climbing long runs in the legs too. Taking into account not everyone had run a marathon before the incremental mileage increases each week (10% – standard ruling!) started to improve confidence and recoveries started to get quicker and less painful over a shorter period of time. The weeks of investment in the training plan were beginning to show.

Howgills

Why is a training plan so important? Easy, it stops you from getting carried away and it also acts as an incentive to get out there and run when you’re having an off day! More importantly, it prevents you from picking up injuries through over training and allows you to analyse your progress in a positive way. Reflection is key, what could I have done better? What am I happy with and so on.

So, why back to back runs on hard hilly terrain? Because that’s what our event will need from us, long miles on the difficult hilly multi-terrain surface. And, for a bunch of fell runners, as little tarmac as possible! Three hard loading weeks and one easy loading week were a great formula and it allowed us to feel the ‘easy’ in the lighter mileage weeks – which psychologically is very powerful.

Race ready? Absolutely! With a few weeks to go and no traditional marathon ‘taper’ as such, we all felt confident that 26.2 miles on the Howgills was achievable and hoped we would all reap the rewards of not being too broken post marathon. Why? Because training continues, long runs are planned for the weekend and a build up again to increasing the distances covered through back to back runs, resetting on the climbs (Dave B’s great analogy) and of course owning the descents and shaking out the legs on the flat. What could be so hard about that? Well, keep a look out for the next blog that will continue on the training journey to our very first Lakeland 50 event at the end of July and hopefully myself, ID Coaching and the ever delightful Team OMM can inspire some of you to consider a similar challenge in the future!

Keep on running and don’t forget to believe in yourself and always be the best you can be.