Having taught A2 PE for a number of years I have really wanted to provide the students with a practical demonstration of some of the techniques that they need to learn. This really is not possible in the short time that we have them for but I know that it is essential that I have at least first hand experience. So with that in mind I set myself a challenge of using as much of the information that I teach to try and complete a half marathon. Now for those runners out there this might not seem that much of a challenge but trust me, for me it is! The furthest I have ever run is 10km and that was a few years ago now.
After making this decision I quickly (before I changed my mind) signed up for the Bournemouth Half Marathon. I had ten weeks to try and convert my slightly over weight and rather under used body into something that could at least get round the course in a respectable time. My first step was to set SMART goals. Yes, these are a roll over from the GCSE spec but essential when trying to train especially when using macro, micro and mini training cycles. My SMART goal then, was to get around the bournemouth half marathon course in a time of 2hrs 15minutes or less on the given date. This lead me nicely into the training cycles. With one week for tapering that would leave me nine weeks, or a macro cycle. Ultimate aim was to improve aerobic capacity to a point where I could run at about 85-95% of my VO2 Max for about 2hrs. My basic level of fitness (10km in one hour) gave me a good starting point but I decided to break the nine weeks into 3 distinct micro cycles. Cycle one would consist of three weeks of heavy running. The idea behind this is that I try to improve my aerobic level and get as many adaptations as possible. Obviously, I know this does take longer but due to my starting point I felt this was a decent assumption. Over the 3 week cycle I put in a lot of mileage, not bothering with speed just getting to a point where I then knew I could improve upon. During the second 3 week cycle I cut down on the distance but started to speed up the runs. I was using a heart rate monitor at this point and was measuring recover times as well. I was trying to train as close to the 85-90% MHR as possible and stay there for as long as possible, gradually building up my time. At the end of this cycle I knew I could cover the distance and I new I had the aerobic capacity to maintain a sub 5.45 km/min pace. During the final 3 week cycle I tried to mimic race conditions running once a week at a good pace, always based around my HR. This allowed me time to rest and recover between runs and to prepare myself mentally. At the end of the 3rd cycle I actually felt in great condition as was in good spirits about the race
From the second cycle of training I had also started to build into my routine flexibility training. PNF was my weapon of choice as I like the pain during approach and appreciate the feeling of hamstrings feeling light and fluffy after. I was still completing static and active stretching before and after but my development flexibility work really started to pay off. I have always been a believer that flexibility is the way forward and as I started to increase my range of motion around my joints I noticed that my range of motion, especially at the hip joint had improved impressively. This meant that I had a higher knee lift and each stride length was longer and more powerful.
Form the second cycle I had also started to use plyometrics to improve speed and power. I used a variety of exercises from simple skipping and bounding to the more complex depth jumps with box hops combined. This resulted in in creased power in my lower limbs and better explosive movements, essential for the mid race hill!!
Lots more went into my preparation including looking at my diet, hydration strategies for the race, mental preparation for the race and post race recovery!
I ended up actually surprising myself with how much I know and how much expertise many of our A Level students possess!
And the end result?
Next up, the full marathon???