Marathon Number 2 – Nice to Cannes. Training and preparation.

On New Year’s Day I signed up to the Marathon des Alpes Maritimes, exactly a year after I signed up to the Nagano Marathon. Clearly a hungover “let’s set a big goal for the year” habit I seem to be developing. 🙄

You can read about my experience at the Nagano Marathon here.

Why run another marathon?

Mmmm, I’m still asking myself that question. Or at least I have done over the past couple of weeks.

I want to run a marathon in 4 hours or under.

I ran the Nagano Marathon in 4h12. Considering (here come the excuses…) it was my first marathon and the weather was pretty mental, barely anyone spoke English (or or even French!) and I felt very alone, and I was carrying a bit of an injury, it wasn’t too bad a time. I’m still proud of what I achieved, and how I trained whilst living in one of the snowiest resorts on the planet!

I thought this time round, running a marathon in November, away from the ski season, after a summer of doing a lot of sport and fitness, including some running, I’d be in a much stronger position to run faster.

And, I do weirdly quite like running.

Why Nice to Cannes?

A friend ran the course a few years ago and loved it. Ok, love might be a strong word but she definitely recommended the race. You also don’t have to enter a ballot: it’s not that popular, yet.

The course goes all along the coast and looks absolutely stunning. The South of France is hot, but in November I am hoping it’ll be pleasant. It’s also flat and considered a PB course.

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I also speak the language spoken by the majority of participants, and consequently I am hoping the experience might be far more enjoyable.

When is it?

Sunday 5th November. Just under two weeks.

How has the training gone?

I had planned to do some longer runs starting in July. And I did. However, I have a few odd issues with firing my glutes which I have tried to address in the past, especially when I trained for Nagano.

The pain feels like it is in my hips, and right deep in my bum! Very sore, and the pain refers down my legs, feeling like nerve pain, into my ankles and feet. After the Nagano marathon, when walking, I would occasionally squeal out loud, much to the concern of onlookers! It was not good. It took me a fair few weeks to recover.

This time the pain started again on longer runs. Sarah at Mountain Rehab has helped release the muscles, and I have seen Shane the chiropractor who has straightened me out, and helped sort out my hip flexors.

I knew I wouldn’t get my training right, or was nervous about what to do with only two months until the main event. I had been focused on completing the Mont Blanc/Passy triathlon. I wisely sought the help of Amelia at Buzz. She put together a plan for me, which I have followed adamantly and have really enjoyed doing so! With only two months to go, I have trained based on time rather than distance and done a lot of speed work. I will have only run half of what I will do on the 5th. Eep.

The pain problem stems from weak ankles. Countless sprains and twists, and loose ligaments mean that other areas of my body have to compensate. I am now strengthening my ankles using a wobble board and building up various exercises so that by the ski season they won’t feel so unstable in a ski boot (I know…it’s a ski boot!) and I’ll feel stronger on that outside ski! Hopefully it will also prevent further niggles when running.

The pain is also linked to stress. As soon as I panic, think negatively, the pain is unbearable. A few of my runs when the pain has been worse is often when I am stressed. The worse was a 2 hour run around the Thames. The second hour was miserable, I was in agony as I navigated road works and traffic lights. As soon as I knew where I was going again, how far I had to run and once I had given myself a good talking to (yep, tears and a proper tantrum around Millenium Bridge!), the pace returned and the pain eased. The mind is so very powerful!

 

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It was actually longer than 2 hours in the end!

It is a ‘thing’ though, and there is pain that needs to be treated. As soon as I got in, I stretched, iced and rested. I’ve really tried though to learn how to manage pain with my head.

Other than that, I am chuffed to say I have not missed a single session, planning ahead to make sure I get them all in to my schedule. I’ve walked, ran, cycled, done strength training, paid attention to recovery, and tried to look after myself. I have still drunk alcohol, eaten far too many cakes and chocolate, but meh…I don’t feel like I have suffered as a consequence!

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Working that engine!

I’ve also done a few sessions on the treadmill recently to get hot ‘n’ bothered and test my mental strength.

Overall, the way I feel right now and how the last few sessions have gone, I’m feeling good and positive about the race. Fingers crossed it goes well!

An amusing video of a blustery hike (Hurricane Ophelia) in the Peak District! 😂

 

What’s the plan leading up to the race?

I have a couple more runs this week and an hour on Sunday. I will keep the intensity the same, but time will be less.

Hydration and nutrition will be my focus leading up to the race. I’ll also be ensuring I’ve got music, gels, compeeds, vaseline, and kit ready for the big day.

I’ll prepare myself mentally, too: planning what paces I want to hit over the course, imagining different scenarios and how to manage them so I am prepared for every eventuality. I know the last 12km are going to be hard. I experienced it in Nagano, and feel this time I know it’ll be coming and might be able to cope better. We will see!

Next week, I fly to Nice on Thursday with my parents and friend, Kim, where we are staying in a Air B&B for 5 nights – might as well make a mini holiday out of it!

I will try and register Thursday or Friday, have a very short run and another pre-race run on Saturday – too much rest and my body will forget what it has to do!

This time I am giving myself plenty of time to adjust to the heat, recover from the flight and get registered. Cool, calm and collected!

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Wish me luck!