It's just over 2 weeks to go to the Dublin City Marathon on October 29th which will be my first marathon. For the last 2 months I've followed my training plan (mostly), and built up the distance ending up with a few 20 milers and a 22 mile last weekend, completed at sub-4 hr marathon pace. So far its gone well, most weeks I've done between 35 - 40 miles consisting of mostly shorter runs during the week with some faster tempo runs thrown in, and then long runs at the weekends. During the training I've found out a few important things ...
Firstly, I discovered I prefer longer more endurance type running to the shorter more high intensity anerobic stuff - the thoughts of going out for interval or fast tempo sessions just doesn't appeal to me as much as a long steady run. In fact the last 3 long runs of 3hrs+ have been really enjoyable - its been really nice being up and out and about early on a bright chilly autumn morning. Also, I think I'm much more suited to endurance type events. I seem to be able to keep going fairly well for long periods once I settle into a nice steady pace. With this in mind I'm going to try and target some longer distance events in 2013, probably a few half marathons & marathons, some longer trail races, and who knows maybe even an ultra of some sort !
Secondly I've realized how vitally important nutrition is to not just training, but general health and well-being. I've done a lot of reading, questioned a lot of what conventional sports nutrition tells us, and made some fundamental changes to my diet to move towards a paleo based approach. The results have been interesting to say the least. By dramatically changing the amount and type of carbs in my diet, I've been able improve my fat adaptation and train my body to better utilize fat as a fuel source. This has allowed me to train regularly without feeling tired, maintain decent energy levels, and go for longer without having to worry too much about low blood sugars. Avoiding the carb/insulin blood sugar rollercoaster is especially important for us Type1 diabetics. Despite having constantly circulating background insulin when I run, I can now run for 3+ hours and require only around 80g of carbs (3 gels) to maintain blood sugars whereas a year ago I couldn't have walked to the shops without experiencing a low. Recovery from hard sessions has been really quick - the day after my last 22 miler I was amazed to have had hardly any soreness in the legs. I fully attribute this to my diet providing me with the right mix of fuels for training, recovery and general well-being (more on this is an upcoming post).
So its true that while the race itself is the goal, the journey in getting there can be enjoyable, interesting and rewarding. Now its time to taper back and get rested for 2 weeks time. The hard work is done and hopefully it will all pay off on the day.