Above image shows where I was during my previous marathons when I crossed the finish line at Dublin. It’s based on my average pace over 26.2 miles as I don’t have any mile splits data but it’s great to see how far ahead of myself from when I ran in Edinburgh I was. I took a massive 16mins45secs off my previous marathon PB of 3:48:18 achieved in the Preston Guild marathon, which I oddly ran exactly one year previous to the Dublin Marathon, which I completed in 3:31:33. Smashing my goal of sub 3:40, taking 16 minutes 45 seconds off my previous marathon PB and edging ever so close to sub 3:30 which surely must be my target at my next marathon.
So how did I make such progress, well I think the best way to begin looking into that is to look at the raw stats, the numbers which make up my training.
For Dublin I covered 690 training miles, over 74 runs which works out as an average of 9.32 miles per run and my average pace was 8:57 mins per mile. Which is slower than I would of expected bu then when I started training I was taking my easy sessions as plodding session or junk miles if you will. It was only later on in my training where I came across tools such as Runnes Worlds training pace calculator that I realised, that even on slow runs. I should give myself a pace target. In my case this was 8.20 mins per mile and I when I started doing that I found I started to make big improvements, which was particularly noticeable during the numerous Park Run events I ran over the course of my training. During my training for my previous marathon, the Preston Guild marathon, i covered 648 miles with an average training pace of 9:15 mins per mile so not much change there then.
I was on my feet running for a total 103 hours during training for Dublin, while during my training for Preston I was on my feet for 104 hours, which is one hour more. But it’s worth bearing in mind that I completed all my training runs for Preston whereas this time I did miss maybe up to two weeks’ worth of training runs when you add it all up..
So why did I do so much better when the number of runs, my mileage and my average pace wasn’t significantly difference between my training for the Preston and Dublin marathons ?
I think it could be down to the pace I ran in training, there was a lot more just ticking off miles when I did my training for Preston, I did do speed work, but not as frequently and my long slow runs where a lot slower in training for Preston than for Dublin. This in part was down to running with a group of runners, who I dropped this time around. In some ways that was a shame, I enjoy training as a group, in other ways I felt it had to be done in order to take the next step up which meant training at a faster pace. Plus none of those guys would be running in Dublin with me, which would have made training runs more complex and I did try at the beginning to factor them in, but it became too much hard work having to come up with two training routes each Sunday with meeting points to ensure no one got lost.
I think another key factor was the change in view of how I see miles. During my training for Preston, my longest mid-week run was 7 miles whereas this time it was 14 miles, a massive difference. I came to see a long run as anything over 14 miles, meaning there were more runs at 15, 16, 17 & 18 miles and far few runs at the shorter distances.
Breaking the two training plans up to compare the number of long runs, medium long, 5 – 10 mile runs and short runs properly. I found that my Dublin marathon training program was all about the middle distance and medium long run, which ultimately lead me to becoming more accustomed to being out running for at least an hour than I had been previously.
The next chart show how of the two different training programs developed over time, side by side, something which I wouldn’t of been able to do if it hadn’t been for the fact that I did the two marathons exactly one year apart. What we can instantly see is that I started training for Preston earlier than I did for Dublin and that I went on holiday over exactly the same September period two years running.
Looking more closely we can see that the Preston training runs seem to be a little more spaced out with the 73 runs coming cover 209 days, while the 74 runs I did for preparation for Dublin came over just 129 days a difference of 72 days. One reason for this difference was for Preston i was running perhaps 4 days a week, whereas for Dublin i was running 5 fives a week minimum
I think the key difference between the two training plans must be that the Dublin training was more compact with far more runs between 5 and 14 miles and a lot less short runs. This has got to be how I was able to cover the distance 17 minutes quicker just one later despite missing out several sessions due to injury and holiday. The Preston training was just not intense enough, too relaxed perhaps.
When my next marathon training comes around I must make sure I cover the full training plan, as perhaps even just doing that will be enough to edge me past my Dublin time and take me beyond the next marathon target time of 3:30.
My next post on Dublin will be a lessons learned post where I will look in more detail how what I did different which I will continue to do and what I plan to do differently next time around.