VLM2016

Amy2.1

Amy Fulford

December 19th 2015

“And the London Marathon place goes to ……Amy!”

Everyone at the Running Club Christmas Dinner turned to look at me!  Yes I was the only Amy in the room and my name had been drawn to receive the running club London Marathon place!  I was so happy… I had really wanted the place but don’t normally win things so this was totally unexpected!

Then it dawned on me…..  I was going to have to train for this!!  And training for marathons is no easy undertaking!

January – The Hunt for a Plan

A training plan, that was what I needed.  But where to go?  How to find one?  Once I started looking I realised that there were no end of training plans out there on the internet!  Runner’s World, Bupa, Asics, London Marathon, Realbuzz, the Running Bug to name but a few….. and they were all so different!  Run three times a week, four times a week, six times a week….. long runs up to 16 miles, long runs up to 26 miles… plans based on distance, plans based on time… plans to run a marathon in under three hours, plan for under four hours or plans to just get round!  It was utterly confusing.  And none of them really fitted in with my needs.  I didn’t want the marathon training to take over my life – I have done a marathon once before (Nottingham in 2011) and my husband Dave always complained that he never saw me!  I also didn’t want to sacrifice any of the other activities I enjoy – running with my dog in the forest (some training plans said all running should be done on the road), going to exercise classes with my friends and gym time with Dave.  So I decided to work out a plan of my own based on what I’d read.  Long runs in the forest with Lizzy (the dog), carry on going to exercise classes and working out with my husband in the gym and then add in a couple of extra runs when I could – a decent ‘tempo’ run and some interval or hill work.  And of course running club on Thursdays would be a great session plus some time to talk about running with other runners without the fear of seeming boring!!  As long as the length and intensity of my runs and workouts increased over the weeks and then I ‘tapered’ three weeks before the marathon I’d be OK…… this was the theory anyway!

February – Tough Times

Training started well. I was already doing quite a lot of running so I didn’t really need to ramp things up for a couple of weeks.  I just fitted in a few faster sessions and was pleased with the speeds I was able to get up to.

But then it suddenly started to feel a LOT harder.  As my long runs increased to 13 miles I felt more and more exhausted.  There were a couple of runs in the forest where I don’t know how I would have finished if I hadn’t had Lizzy to talk to! The speed work and my regular classes also started to feel much harder….I began to wonder if I really was up for this challenge.

Man Down!

Amy1

Lizzy: Warrior Dog

Then things got even worse.  One lunchtime I was out with Lizzy attempting some speed work on the park.  Her ball had got lost so I was throwing a stick for her instead.  After one throw she leapt up for the stick and it jammed in her mouth.  She yelped in pain and was bleeding a lot.  We got her to the vets as quick as we could where they removed an inch of stick from her throat and sewed up a huge hole in her tongue!  She was very lucky to have survived and although she would make a full recovery, my trusty running partner was out of action for a couple of weeks and I missed her so much.  I did a 16 mile long run on the road for a change and it was one of the toughest of all my training.

March – I’m on fire!

It’s the first weekend in March and I’m happy to have Lizzy running with me again.  It’s Dave’s birthday on the Saturday so we have a few drinks and a Chinese take away on the Saturday evening; I’m therefore not anticipating a great long run on the Sunday.  But it proves to be the complete opposite: 18 miles in the forest, with 6 miles in the middle at marathon pace, and I’m still buzzing at the end of it!  Maybe this is the way to go – a Chinese take away before every long run?!

The following week and I’m at Telford Town Park for the start of the Ironbridge Half Marathon.  It’s the most beautiful sunny day and I’ve had a good week of training.  I’ve been warned that it’s a fairly hilly course with a bit of mud along the way so I wonder if I can get a time of 1 hour 50 minutes.    Whether it’s the great weather, the stunningly beautiful course (I highly recommend this half to anyone who hasn’t done it) or the support of the fantastic crowds, but 1 hour 38 minutes later I finish in a time I could never have believed possible – and third lady in my age category.  I was over the moon!  Maybe I could do this marathon after all.

And then the fire goes out…

The week after my Ironbridge elation things start to go a bit wrong….  I buy a new pair of trainers ready to break inAmy3 for the marathon but after a week of gentle runs they are still crippling my feet.  Then a hamstring/ piriformis niggle I have been nursing for a few months suddenly gets a lot worse and I’m struggling to run much at all let along go fast or cover the mileage I should be covering at this stage in my training.  We also suddenly get extremely busy at work and I struggle to fit in many runs at all.  I so hope I didn’t peak too soon…

April

So here we are at the start of April.  I have bought another pair of new trainers which are feeling a lot better and the injury, although still there, has improved immensely.  Lizzy and I had a good 20 mile run in the forest on Easter Sunday (it’s such a shame they don’t do dog marathons, Lizzy would nail it!!) and I’ve managed to fit in runs at all hours this week, working around my girls who are on their Easter school holiday and work, which is still busy.  The ‘taper’ is now in sight!

So has my DIY training plan gone well? I think so… I’ve managed to keep doing pretty much everything I enjoy and I’ve got a lot fitter, faster and stronger.  I think I’ve kept my family happy (Lizzy is certainly happy – she’s even forgiven me for the hole in her tongue!), although Dave would probably say that the last couple of weeks of have been a bit too much (thank you for being so supportive my darling).  I just need to get through the taper and then see how it goes on the day.  Have I got a time in mind?  Of course I do!  Under four would be good but we shall see…  I just want to enjoy it most of all.

Running the London Marathon is an amazing opportunity for me and I am taking advantage of this to raise money for YoungMinds, a charity that do fantastic things to help improve the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children and young people.  This is a cause that is very close to my heart, so if you can spare a couple of pounds to sponsor me, my Virgin Giving Page address is:

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AmyFulford

Thank you so much!

Amy

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