Why have a training plan? This is a question that has been asked on many occasions. It was a question that I asked in the early days of my running.

I asked the question to my oracle (advisor and run and social manager, loving, supportive, and adoring wife) and her response was quick and decisive – “You can’t just rock up to a race and run it well without one”.

This made me think… How many times have I competed in an event and not been happy with my result? Why did this happen? What went wrong? On numerous occasions I did not have a training plan. I just turned up assuming I was fit, prepared, and ready. Why did I think this way? Because I did a lot of running.

Liverpool Rock n Roll Marathon May 2017

I used to think that if you were going to take part in an event you just went out running and gradually built your strength to complete the distance. But how often do you run? How do you keep track of what you have done? How do you know how far and how often you run? Do you run different types of running? Can you see any progress in your running? Is it just about running or are there other activities you should do? How do I fit it in with my family, work, and social life?

There are many questions we ask when registering for an event. Whether it is a 5km parkrun, or 26.2 miles marathon, or 100 miles ultra. Many questions come into our minds.

Bournemouth Marathon October 2017

This is when a training plan comes into good effect. It helps by answering many of our questions. It informs us about what we should be aiming for when training for an event. It provides structure to our training. It helps and supports us when we have an event to compete in. A good training plan provides variety to your runs. It makes us accountable. It enables us to plan our lives around our running (or should it be to plan our running around our lives?).

Something to bear in mind – we are all individual, we are all different. There are so many training plans available it is tempting to go with a general plan for the distance you are running. These are readily accessible on the internet and in books and magazines. I am not knocking them and have used them myself in the past. What they fail to deliver is individualism. They usually assume we are all the same and capable of running the same distances on the same days. Last year I followed a generic online Asics marathon training plan and I must admit it took the fun out of running for me.

Milton Keynes Marathon May 2018

Most of the training in the preceding weeks occurred during miserable and very cold weather. I had followed a nutrition and hydration plan to get me ready. The marathon took place on an unusually very hot day in May and half way round I was ready to quit. At the end my legs were like jelly and I could hardly stand up. I swore I would never run a marathon again. At the time I just thought that I had done everything expected and required but still could not run a marathon. This was going to be my third and my last marathon (or so I thought at the time).

This is where a tailored made individual plan comes into great use. It is designed for you, not for everyone else. It considers your lifestyle, running experience, your pace. It helps with your routine and structures your training runs. A structured training plan will ensure that every run you do has a purpose, whether it’s a hard workout or simply an easy recovery run. It will also encourage us to do runs working on our weakness that we do not enjoy (in my case this is interval running and speed runs). This also adds the variety to your running.

Current Training Plan for the 2019 Milton Keynes Marathon

My own current training plan is one which has been designed for me by me. I am not an expert, but I have sought guidance and researched training plans in some depth. It is a plan that has been developed overtime with the knowledge and experiences that I have acquired. I am currently waiting on some feedback from a very trusted friend, but I am confident it delivers what I need for the training for the Milton Keynes Marathon in May this year (after I had sworn never to run another marathon).

A few friends have asked me for some help and advice, and I have felt honoured and privileged to create training plans for them to prepare for events. To date there has been no moans or complaints and they have completed the events. It makes me feel proud and appreciative that they trust me for help and advice, but I am prouder for my friends who worked hard and have crossed the finish line. I feel this will be the subject of a future blog…. mentoring.

My biggest problem is probably being too ambitious in my own training runs by entering several events en route to the marathon. On top of this I may need to re think the planned interval runs – make them more varied to help build speed and strength.

The three marathons that I have run have their own stories. The first in Liverpool was fun, the second in Bournemouth I hit the wall and my legs gave way, and the third in Milton Keynes I just wanted to quit half way round. I look back and analyse my training and the runs and just pull them apart and criticize them.

Maybe this is a problem I have. I am my own worst critic…..

Write a blog they said….

I have had it said to me that I should write a blog. This makes me wonder why and what should I write about? I am a keen runner, I have a fascination for steam engines, and I have spent my working life in the public sector within custodial institutions. What could I possibly write about?

Perhaps a little background scenario may help.

Running in the local parkrun with my lovely wife.

Running – My running adventures started just over three years ago. I reluctantly joined a local running club after some encouragement from my lovely wife. My interest and enthusiasm for running had been non existent prior to this. At first it was a battle to put the training shoes on and join in with the running activities but, surprisingly, I soon got to enjoy the running. We both joined in with a beginners group for running with the local running club. Within a couple of weeks I was hooked. Three and half years later and after numerous events, including marathons and half marathons, I love running and have become a run lead and have had the privilege and honour to be a mentor for other runners. I am now in training for another marathon. It is my plan to blog about my adventure to complete this event, giving some hints and tips along the way.

60009 Union Of South Africa

Steam Engines – I have had a fascination with steam engines from my earliest memories. The looks, motion, sound, and smells have always intrigued me. There is something amazing in their design and engineering and when the engines are in motion belching out clouds of steam and smoke for me it is an amazing experience and sight to see. It is in my blood. Older generations of the family worked on the railways in steam days, some of my earliest memories are seeing steam trains, my life has been full with railways. It is fair to say that I am a steam train enthusiast and love to visit heritage railways. I have been known to stand by a main railway line waiting for a steam special to pass by. Steam trains will chuff into my blog on occasions.

In uniform

Public Sector Work – My working life has been inside custodial institutions. My career in Her Majestys Prison Service commenced in 1981, directly after leaving school, and ended in 2014, when I retired. A total of thirty three years in custody. It has been a long and illustrious career during which I have worked in different establishments in different roles and witnessed many changes in the prison service. There have been good times, happy times, sad times, and some truly dreadful times. My experiences in a public service may be boring to some, but I hope to others they are interesting, and perhaps give some hope and insight into what it is like to work in a prison.

So, in answer to my initial question, it looks like the blog is going to be about running, steam engines, and reflecting on my life in the prison service.

This could be interesting……..