My Covid-19 Marathon
Hi everyone, my name is Jeremy and I would like to welcome you to The Marathon Experience. Running a marathon has always been a dream for me.
But not really in a nice way. More like an impossible challenge that I will never ever managed to accomplish. I mean running for 26.2 miles, how could anyone do that? Nevertheless, I always liked running even though I have never been particularly good at it.
I started running around 2017 but it was really irregular. I realized that I was capable to run decently but I had to work on my fitness, my technic... I had to work on a lot of things, to be honest.
Around the end of 2019, I decided that I was going to challenge myself in 2020. I had already run a couple of half marathons but the idea of running a full one was totally absent from my mind at the time.
I knew it was too hard, too complicated and it needed too much training, motivation, and preparation. I didn't have the time, the motivation, the energy, and even the knowledge to accomplish something like this.
Despite all of that I decided to throw myself in, without really thinking about it, and I swore that I would find a way to get the knowledge, the motivation, and the time necessary to do it.
I knew that sometimes the only way to get prepared for something is to do the first step of entering the challenge and then find out how you actually should do it.
Note that I don't recommend to do that, I just think that sometimes it is something you have to do even if you are unsure of the results.
But if you do want to plan and understand more if you are ready to register for a marathon, I recommend you to read my free ebook.
It will guide you to ask yourself the right questions to make sure you are 100% ready for this, and at the end of this book, you will be able to register for your marathon.
So I registered to Paris Marathon 2020, I live in the UK but I am french and I have lived in Paris for a while before moving abroad and Paris means something to me.
Of course, at the time I had no idea that the COVID-19 was going to disrupt all of that, cancelling Paris, made me switch from 14 weeks to 16 weeks training, registering to the Brighton Marathon, cancel Brighton and end up being the most incredible experience of my life running around the street of my little city in the UK. But let's start at the beginning.
Here I am on the last week of December 2019, I am 14 weeks from the 5th of April 2020 where I will be running my first marathon in Paris.
I studied a training plan that my mother-in-law gave me in December and shaped it to my goals. I just wanted to run a marathon until the end, without a real-time target.
But I knew that I needed to set up a basic pace that I would try to follow during the run so I decided to target a sub 4 hours marathon.
It didn't mean much at the time, as I would have been perfectly happy with a time of 5 hours, as long as I could call myself a marathoner.
But I had to set a goal so I went with 4 hours. Therefore, determine my marathon pace and I adapted the training according to that.
There is one thing I know about long term projects like running a marathon, it's that if you are a beginner you have to keep things simple.
I have seen a lot of articles and even books explaining how you should monitor your heart rate, your cadence, time your resting day perfectly, do core training, plan every calorie of your nutrition plan, etc...
I agree that it is important when you want to progress. But in my situation, I had no progress to make, I was just about to do my first performance so I needed something simple.
That is why I didn't do any effort to analyze my heart rate. I only looked at my pace. Every session of my training plan is based on time, distance, and speed. Everything can be done with a smartphone. It's not easy, but it's simple. I have always been a big fan of the quote: "More is less" and it might a cliché, but I do think that the more simple an action is the more probable it is to succeed.
And after all, even with this simple training plan, I can still call myself a marathoner. And even better a sub-4hours marathoner. So, who cares?
If you are interested in this plan, you can download it here. Also, if you want to know even more and do some "fact-checking" about my training, go on my Strava and look for all my training between the end of December 2019 and April 2020.
All the sessions are labeled "TME Week X training Y" and I commented on all of them with my impression of the day so don't hesitate to have a look.
I don't know about you but I love the metrics and it was an important thing in my training to realize how many miles I ran, for how long, etc...
Logging as much as possible is the way you will progress the most, and therefore you need a system. Like a scientist, you will be analyzing your results, logging your error to not repeat them, and progressing further on your weak spots.
A marathon is a challenge that takes a lot of time to accomplish and you have to be 100% committed when you decided to do it. It's another subject I have written about in the free ebook mentioned before. Make sure you read it before you register for your first race.
You can log your session in a lot of different ways, with a lot of different apps. I would recommend Strava, you can see why in this article: This is why you should use Strava. But to be honest it doesn't matter which app you are using as long as you log everything.
Soooo let's look at the numbers! For me the marathons experience was:
That's the number of weeks of training. It was meant to be 14 but COVID-19 gave me 2 weeks extra.
The time I spent running to prepare and run this marathon. On average, it is only around 5 hours a week. But it doesn't include the preparation before a run, the stretching after, etc...
The total of kilometers. It makes it around 546 miles. It is not so much if you think about it, as my method is based on intervales and not so much on long runs. The average is 55km a week. The week I ran the most I did: 82.3 km
The number of PR I improved during the preparation. Both my 5K, 10K, and Half-marathon best performances improved during this training.
My final time. I am quite happy about it since I was targeting sub-4 hours.
The sad thing about these numbers is that they don't reflect the number of smiles I got from other runners or pedestrians in the streets, the number encouragements, the cheering from all my friends and family in this effort.
The numbers don't reflect the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that I felt when I stopped the watch on the 19th of April 2020, becoming a marathoner. I will never forget this moment.
Your turn now!
I hope this glance at my marathon experience will motivate you and make you want to get your marathon experience too! If you are thinking about a marathon, I would love to be helpful in the process and get you ready for this incredible achievement. I suggest that you both read the articles in the blog which are all directed at helping marathoners and marathoners-to-be. You can also read the ebook I wrote here. And join the community on the different social media: Facebook, Instagram, Strava (link on the icon below). I wish you a good day and a wonderful adventure.
Here is the plan that I used during the 14 (extended to 16) weeks of my training for my COVID-19 Marathon. Feel free to download it and let me know if you have any questions about it. Enjoy!