@sherieamore1 – 9th Marathon

After a great January of running my aim was to achieve 120 miles for February, but another busy month work wise, combined with a brief bout of illness, meant that this did not happen. In fact, I only achieved half of this and most of it within one week!

Once it became apparent that achieving the mileage that I wanted was unlikely to happen my main aim became about running successfully on tired legs and getting in a couple of runs at HM distance and beyond.

While I had managed to maintain strength training, outdoor running was limited last month but in the final week of February I had a week off work and resolved to get the distances done!

After a tough HM run on the Friday (during which I fell over!) I wanted to deliver a 15 mile run on the Sunday and on that Sunday the planets aligned – I woke up feeling motivated, the weather was perfect for running and I just put on my shoes and ran. And ran some more. My route for this run was an “out and back” and upon hitting 7.5miles I felt so good I carried on. To 8 miles. Then to 9 miles. And then to 10 miles. I felt incredible!

Turning back and retracing my steps made me realise why I had felt incredible – I had been running on a very steady slight decline for four miles so running back was slightly tougher but it was a great training run totalling 20 miles in the end, in which I achieved a 10 mile PB and a sub-2 hour HM. Post run I still felt brilliant – no DOMS or post run aches – I really believe in the power of strength training to supplement marathon training.

Hitting that 20 miles for me is always a huge confidence boost – I know I can run the next 6.2miles on race day on adrenaline and elation alone. In March I will get in another two 20+ mile runs (timed with my shiny new Garmin, yay!) and I know that come race day, I’ll be ready! #runhappy

@shellmoby – #sub4

Marathon training was going really well during January, so it was inevitable really that my daughter should get tonsillitis while her dad was away with work, meaning a week of no running! Then a mystery virus struck me, which the doctor first diagnosed as flu, and then subsequently discovered my vitamin D levels were low. Two weeks of low mileage, 3 missed long runs, and I was suffering from severe maranoia. However, a few weeks of low mileage actually didn’t do me any harm and I’m feeling much better after a few weeks of boosting my vitamin D levels.
At the end of February, I completed the Belvoir Challenge 15 miles cross country, which was tough but good to get a long run in again, then I’ve been making sure I’ve been doing a mid-distance tempo every week of around 8-10 miles, and a long run, which I’ve been fitting in around parkruns. This last weekend was my longest run of 21 miles in the Grindleford Gallop trail race around the peak district, and I managed to keep my energy levels up throughout so I’m feeling a lot more confident now about the marathon. My plan to complete trail events as part of my marathon training is based on the idea that hilly traail races are so much harder, so that a flat road marathon will feel much easier – we shall see if my approach has worked in 3 weeks! I’m entering into taper now, and gradually reducing my weekly mileage so that I’m going into the marathon feeling fresh. I’ll be using the next few weeks to really practise my marathon pace, and my nutrition, which I’m still experimenting with.
Regarding my goal of sub 4 hours, I still think it’s doable but I won’t be upset if it doesn’t happen on the day, given that training hasn’t gone exactly to plan – but I’m still aiming to line up with the 4 hour pacer.
Let’s do this!
You can follow Shell’s training at www.mileswithmichelle.co.uk

@JenningsNicola – Ultrarunner

The hard work really kicked in during February, with three key workouts: tempo; intervals; and long run. In addition there is now a steady run at marathon effort and two easy recovery runs.

So far, I’ve mostly hit all training targets. I have been hampered by poor hydration which really affected the quality of my long run. I’ve learnt that even a day’s poor hydration can have a significant effect on my pace.

I’m up to 19 miles which feels fine so far. What is a challenge is picking up the pace for a while mid run. This is fairly new to me but I’m also enjoying it.

My long runs have been hilly with over 1300 feet of climb. This has meant I’ve chosen to get up early and head for the hill top as the sun is rising. This is a revelation for me as I usually hate early running!

Unfortunately, my (minor) heart condition has reared its ugly head this week so I’ve missed a long run of 21 miles. This couldn’t be avoided but I have managed to rearrange future training sessions to accommodate the missed run, making sure I have adequate recovery between key sessions.

Overall I’m quite pleased with my training. I’ve learnt I can run early (6.30am); I’m pretty good at judging pace by effort; I do take my recovery runs easy; and finally I can run faster if I actually try.

You can follow Nicola’s blog at www.academicinrunningtights.wordpress.com

@dazstaley – #sub330

February was a short month but ram packed full of running as another month of marathon training is all done and dusted.

At the start of the month I ran Watford Half Marathon which was a very hilly and challenging race. But it came at just the right time as it broke up the marathon training and was a chance to test myself in race conditions. I just missed out on a PB but the most important thing to come from it was that it filled me with confidence that my training was working and it was all going in the right direction.

February threw every weather condition possible at us, from snow to spring sunshine and still peaceful mornings to stormy Doris gales. The weather can add to the challenge of your runs and I find it fun to put myself up against the elements. It’s really satisfying coming in from a great run where you have taken on and got the better of the weather. It’s an added achievement and there have been a few runs like this for February.

One thing I have learnt this month is that marathon training is not all about long runs. The short quick runs are just as important and put some real strength into your legs. My marathon training has made me a better runner all round and my times over the shorter distances have improved along the way. On the 17th February I ran Run for Chocolate 10k and went under 40 minutes for the first time. This again is a massive confidence boost as we fast approach Manchester Marathon. I’m looking forward to the rest of training and of course race day at the beginning of April.

@JonW_NewRunner – First Marathon

Marathon training for February has been very demanding with work trips to New York and London, but have managed to maintain the mileage I wanted to do with 181 miles for February. I have carried out my first 20 mile run, which was my 4th day running, at sub 4 hour pace which I was really happy about.

As part of my training for February I have taken part in two races: the Stamford 30k and Brighton Half Marathon. In both events I exceeded my expectation performance wise. At Stamford I ran 2 hours 46 mins for 30k (8:56 min mile average pace) on a very hilly course (1100 ft of elevation). Then in Brighton I got a new PB for half marathon with a time of 1 hour 46 and 11 secs. I was really pleased with the Brighton run as the splits were really consistent after a congested start. These performances have made me re-assess my target time which is now going to be 3 hours 55 minutes. I believe on a flat course with a good taper my target time is a realistic target, but still a great challenge.