'I’m getting the mileage done which is the main thing' - Diary of a London Marathon Runner - Part 2

Thousands of runners take on the London Marathon every year. This year’s event takes place on Sunday, April 23 and one person who has started his training is Chris Francis.
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Welcome to part two of my London marathon blog! (part one link: here ) I’m now eight weeks through my 16 week marathon training plan, with less than eight weeks remaining until the London marathon!

Training has gone relatively well over the last few weeks. Previously I’d been struggling to run four times a week due to calf muscle tightness and injury concerns, so I was substituting running for cycling, to keep my cardio fitness up, whilst not hammering my legs too much!

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My calf muscle tension has definitely eased as my legs have started to adapt to regular running sessions, and so this has started to allow me to average the four scheduled runs per week.

Chris (second from the right) at the St Catherine's treadmill challenge in County MallChris (second from the right) at the St Catherine's treadmill challenge in County Mall
Chris (second from the right) at the St Catherine's treadmill challenge in County Mall

Although the mileage I’m doing during the week is a little lower than planned, I’m managing to hit the weekend long run mileage each time. Sometimes I’m having to split the long runs into two sessions due to time constraints, or from playing rugby, but I’m getting the mileage done which is the main thing. The plan is now to gradually up the mileage during the week to training plan levels, whilst continuing to hit the long run mileage.

One thing that has made a massive difference to my running pace recently, is running with someone else. Sam Drane and I have been doing a 5.30am pace run every Thursday morning for the past four weeks around Billingshurst. Training with a more experienced runner has helped push my boundaries, and my fitness levels have really kicked on as a result. Meeting him the same time every week has made me accountable to hitting that Thursday run, when the temptations of the weekend looming would make me think twice about a run that day.

St Catherine’s Hospice have arranged a couple of events in the last few weeks to help with the fitness too! On 11th February a group of us met to do the Tilgate Parkrun. It was my first ever Parkrun, but it certainly won’t be my last! Strangely I’d never attempted to see how quickly I could run a 5k, but managed it in just under 25 minutes which was much quicker than expected! It was great to meet some of the other St Catherine’s marathon runners too, and really enjoyed the community feel of the Parkrun. I look forward to doing another one soon!

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On 25th February, St Catherine’s Hospice laid on the annual Treadmill Challenge, where 5 other marathon runners and I clubbed together and took it in turns to run a marathon on a treadmill. The challenge took place in the middle of Crawley County Mall shopping centre. We ended up raising £451.10, which was equally split between the runners, and put towards our fundraising targets for the marathon. It was such a great experience getting to know some of the other runners and also touching to hear some of the life experiences that some of the shoppers had gone through, and how grateful they were for everything St Catherine’s had done for their families.

Week 8 of my training ended with running in the Brighton half marathon! I wasn’t too sure how to approach the race, as weekend training long runs are suppose to be run at a slow and steady pace. However, my competitive nature got the better of me and I went off at race pace!

I struggled around mile 4, but consuming an energy gel that I’d been carrying, coupled with seeing my family in the crowd, gave me the boost I needed to kick on again. From that point on, I got into a really good running rhythm, and mentally started breaking the race down into small sections based on knowing where the drink stations were and likely places I’d see my family.

I ended up running it in 1.57.38, which far exceeded my expectations given the 2.09 I’d run in training only a few weeks before! I’m really glad I decided to enter this as a warm-up to the London marathon, as it gave me a good insight into what it’s like to run in a big event, what I can achieve if I push myself, and that a good support crew and lots of energy gels are key!

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Fundraising is still going strong, with £1,480 raised so far for this great charity. I’m going to push the fundraising over the next few weeks by organising a charity golf day and pulling together a “guess my marathon time” game. If you’d like to sponsor me, you can do so on the following link: 2023tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/chris-francis

Until next time!


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