5 Weeks to Berlin Marathon

Berlin Marathon Training: The Hierophant

Five more weeks!

On the night last October when I found out I won a lottery place in the Berlin Marathon, asked my tarot deck a simple question. (Yes, I confess that find tarot infinitely fascinating but that’s for another time.)

Will I successfully complete the Berlin Marathon?

The card I drew representing my present, my focus, was the Hierophant, a mentor and trusted guide. This was, in fact, an answer that I already knew.

So I reached out to Coach Julia. I knew that there was no freaking way I could get around Berlin without her help and guidance.  Julia and the community of women who make Up and Running have been instrumental in keeping me motivated and running since I first found them and joined the 10K course almost two years ago.  Julia’s plan helped me complete the Reading Half and so I knew I could trust her to get me around Berlin.

Julia started by collecting details around my current level of fitness, my previous race times, and my marathon goals.  She then put together a personalized training plan and since June I’ve followed her plan to build out the solid core of running at the center of my Circle of Running,

For the first half of my training schedule, Julia sent my workouts a month at a time.  At the end of the first month, I reported back on my progress along with some of my times so that she could make any adjustments to my scheduled workouts for the next 4 weeks.

And then I got to week 9, half-way, test week. During week nine Julia had me head out to a track to complete both a 1km and 3km timed run, basically running that distance as fast as I could (not on the same day!) The goal of this was to test both my pure speed and then test my endurance at speed. After reporting both times back to Julia, she then sent me the remainder of my training schedule all the way through to Berlin.

(As an aside, I’m a geek, clearly, and am all about my running gadgets and data.  And the beauty of capturing loads of data about your running is when you see results.  When I first ran a timed 1km in the 10K course almost 18 months ago, I ran it in 5:13.  Two weeks ago I ran 1km in 4:36, over a 30 second improvement.  Now I know that’s not super fast, but the me of 2014 is faster than the me of 2013 and that’s all that matters.)

What does my running routine look like?

I run four days a week and am thankful that I’m training for an Autumn marathon as this means I can train over the summer and there are more hours of daylight in which to fit this in.  This makes a massive difference when trying to juggle marathon training with work and family.

The first 8 weeks of my plan were largely about building up my base, gradually increasing the amount of time and the distance that I ran.  My week typically included a mix of both endurance and speed work.  I ran long steady runs, runs in progression, and lots and lots of sprints, including hill work.  All of this at no specific pace.

Now, after test week, most of my workouts include intervals at a specific pace prescribed by Julia and based on my 1km and 3km times. I’m also still doing plenty of speed and strength work like hill repeats, squats, skipping, and high knees.

The toughest part of my routine has actually been mixing up my running routes.  I’ve quickly found myself at bored.com running many of the same routes over and over.  While there are loads of great local countryside footpaths and bridleways on which to run, these are over rough terrain on which I struggle to run at pace, an important aspect of my current training. As a result, I’ve stuck with the same paved routes.  But recently, to mix things up, I’ve found myself driving to other local areas for a run so that I can take in some different scenery.  And this helps my running mojo immensely!

So five more weeks of training.  Also, I will likely sign up for a half marathon in early September as a practice race.  I’m well aware that race days are a lot different from regular training days and I can only benefit from a practice run of all the logistics involved.

Tune in next week when I add strength and flexibility.


(I mentioned last week that I was listening to the Shantaram audiobook during many of my runs and challenging my self to finish it before Berlin.  So I’m adding a little countdown.)

Shantaram Countdown: 24 hours 5 minutes

Not sure this is the best listening for building the running mojo as this week’s Shantaram runs have included a cholera outbreak in an Indian slum as well as some horrifying descriptions of the sanitary conditions in an Indian prison.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Matma August 22, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Tarot training….! That’s different ….

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