Why Am I Getting Slower?

I’ve run 6 marathons, with an ultimate goal of earning a BQ – for those of you not obsessed with marathons, that’s a 3.35 (or faster) qualifying time for my age group. I felt well on my way, running a 3.49 in the Berlin marathon in 2014, feeling the best I have in my life. However, despite training for, and running two marathons since then, I haven’t come close to that time (or feeling), and infact I’m getting slower…

Marathon Times graph

I remember crossing the finish line in Paris, at 4:00:37 so disappointed in myself, but knowing I had given it everything I have. I was determined to give Berlin my all. And I did. I didn’t miss a workout, including running 20 miles on a summer holiday to Portugal, 14 miles in Barcelona on a hen do, and waking up at 4am to complete 15 miles on a Friday morning before work. 

Running the Berlin Marathon

Although my Chicago training started strong, I’m not sure I ever truly believed I could run a 3.35, and if you don’t think you can, then you probably can’t. 

When things went wrong on race day, I didn’t have the mental strength to keep pushing – and yet my mental strength is something I pride myself on, so having that (and my stomach) letting me down, upset me.

New York City Marathon

And yet, I didn’t have the fight to want to run New York as a PB. I was quite happy running with Zoe, trying to pace her and my training this summer suffered as a result. I didn’t put my heart into it fully. I ran for fun, not to train.

That all seemed to change this week though, and I feel that old drive and determination is back. I had a No Excuses attitude back in the summer of 2014 and I am thrilled, and ready to work my ass off for a PB in February at the Tokyo marathon.

Interestingly, a lot of my runs set by Mary, my coach, feels really slow. Last night I ran for 60mins at 10.40 min mile pace – and a lot of my easy runs are 9.55-10.55 pace. But the ‘quality sessions’ are where the work is happening. On the schedule this week I have

2 mile warm up, 6 x 2min at 8.54 pace with 1 min recovery, 2 mile cool down  

2 mile warm up, 8 x 30 sec at 7.16 pace with 2.30 recovery between, 1 mile cool down

JTX treadmill

Last week, JTX sent me this compact folding treadmill and I love it. It means that there really is no excuse not to get my run done – even if it’s dark or wet. I’m really enjoying running watching the TV in the comfort of my own sitting room, Tom on the other hand isn’t loving me pounding on the belt with the TV on full blast.

 

Tokyo marathon training is on….

14 Comments

  1. November 28, 2016 / 10:17 am

    I’ve had my most successful races when I trained at a slower pace, just doing speedwork at a faster pace. It feels counterintuitive, but it really works, and I also find it helps avoid burnout. I think you’ll like it!

  2. November 28, 2016 / 11:26 am

    Very interested to hear about all your training for Tokyo.

    I think fitness bloggers (not necessarily you, but DEFINITELY me!) have a tendency of doing too many things that get in the way of better run times. I know for example that my workout schedule is not targeted well at running at all right now, I’m doing way too many other things that won’t really help running (for example climbing and Muay Thai), leaving my running as a kind of back-burner exercise (eg I only do 3 times a week, and all of those are casual slow runs). If instead I wanted to improve in running I would have to start targeting my workouts inc strength sessions and yoga, remove Muay Thai (trashes your legs too much to run hard other days), and add speed sessions to my running base. This will be the changes if I get in to Berlin marathon for example!

    Are you now going to target all of your exercise at helping your running? Assume so as you have a coach!

    The marathon majors also vary a lot by climate and hilliness etc, Berlin is the PB course so it’s not surprising its your PB. What is Tokyo like? It’s February, right? (Sorry, a million Qs :-)!)

    • charlotte
      November 28, 2016 / 12:02 pm

      I so agree – I am very guilty of saying yes to everything and letting my running suffer as a result. I want this PB SOOO much that I am willing to put it first, rather than just going all out on the fitness front. Tokyo is at the end of Feb, so will be cold and it’s not the flattest, but no-where near as hilly as NYC!

  3. November 28, 2016 / 1:44 pm

    NYC is a tough marathon to PR. It can for sure be done but in reality it is almost more of an “event” than a race unless you have a strategy for how you’ll race it. In my opinion to pr in new york you either need to have a previous time that was slower than your potential or you need to not run with friends unless they are pacing you to your goal, you need to be at the front of your corral and you need a plan for the water stops. Even then it’s very crowded and a technical course. It’s also my favorite race.

    I agree that you have to believe that you can hit your goal or its unlikely that it will happen. You may not be sure you can do it but you have to own the goal completely.

    • charlotte
      November 29, 2016 / 1:09 pm

      I agree! I absolutely loved NYC both times I’ve run it – the atmosphere is insane. Definitely a race I’d do again as an event.

  4. Danielle @ Wild Coast Tales
    November 28, 2016 / 3:58 pm

    I think it’s even more frustrating when you can’t quite pinpoint why you’re not getting faster! So on the plus at least you have found something positive to change. I know for me I need to change something every marathon training cycle (if I want to keep improving)! Enjoy the Tokyo training, sounds like you have a great attitude going into it.

    • charlotte
      November 29, 2016 / 1:09 pm

      Thanks Danielle, I think changing things up also keeps it interesting!

  5. Hannah
    November 29, 2016 / 3:12 am

    In my view from reading your blog, you focus to much on the marathon. If the overall aim is a marathon PB, think more about what else you need to do to get it. E.g to run a 3:35 marathon, you’d probably need have a half marathon PB of sub-1:40. Then to get this half marathon PB, you’ll need a 10km PB of sub 45 mins. And to get this you’ll need a 5km PB of 21:30. All rough timings but hopefully you get my point. I’d leave marathon training for a yr and really focus on getting these shorter distances nailed (I’m not sure what your current PBs are).

    Also, I don’t think a proper training plan by a coach is actually needed. After 4 yrs of running (and about 8 half marathons), I did my first marathon last month. No fancy training plan, just ran 13km to work twice a week, parkrun on Saturday (going all out every week to get my speed up) and then long run on Sunday (building up 2km each week). I missed long runs sometimes as I didn’t let training run my life but started training with 16 weeks to go so there was a buffer to miss a few weeks. And I’m pleased to say it went well with 3:33:02!

    • charlotte
      November 29, 2016 / 1:07 pm

      Wow speedy legs!! Congratulations!
      I do know what you mean about working on other distances, however I don’t think a 21.30 5K necessarily translates. I like the marathon training and distance which is why I’ve focused on it so much, but I think working on the shorter distances would be great to do after London this year!
      Personally I work better when I have someone to be accountable to with my training, and it means I don’t second guess everything I’m doing, however most of the other marathons have been without a proper coach!

  6. November 29, 2016 / 9:16 am

    Ahhh love it when you get your drive back! I’m on the same page now that marathon training has officially started, even though I don’t officially have a place to a race yet as didn’t have the dollar when Brighton ran out!

    Folding treadmill sounds interesting, will you blog it? My hubs would hate me pounding the belt in the living room, even though he used to drown out my TV with the turbo trainer!

    • charlotte
      November 29, 2016 / 1:03 pm

      Haha yes he hates it, but eventually let me get my 60mins done on Sunday! Will def be blogging about it once I’ve done a few more miles on it. Ooh do any other marathons take your fancy?

  7. November 30, 2016 / 2:44 pm

    Just wanted to say…you’ve got this Charlie! Get it girl! So jealous you get to run Tokyo! 🙂

  8. November 30, 2016 / 5:55 pm

    Maybe it’s because of your age that’s why you’re getting slower..

    • charlotte
      December 2, 2016 / 1:53 pm

      I hope not! Some of the fastest runners I know are in their 30s and 40s! Perhaps not the most helpful advice Jason!

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