What’s the Plan? How Do You Prepare for a World Championship AND London Marathon?

I realized that I told you about which races I intend to do, but did not share how I am going about it.

So…lets break a few things down

The Logistics

The World Half Marathon Championships are in Cardiff, Wales, which is about 3 hours from my hometown (St Albans). I will fly into London early on Wednesday morning the week of the race, stay with my parents for a night, and then head to Wales sometime on Thursday.

England Athletics is not hosting the elites until the Friday night, but my parents and I will find a hotel nearby so I can get settled and maybe run on the course the day before.

The race is on Saturday March 22nd at 1:35pm (GMT), which seems sooooo late, but will probably help me as I should be wide away by this point (Wales is 4 hours ahead of the US).

After the race, I intend to lay low for the next few days. I will go stay with my auntie Jenny for a few nights in Shropshire.

If I said to you “English countryside”, you would have a picture in your mind of what it looks like. Probably something like the cottage in the movie “The Holiday” right?

Well, my aunts house is EVEN MORE countryside that that! Think wild horses and rolling hills all around their tiny little village.

Mum and I at Jennys a few years ago
Mum and I at Jennys a few years ago

It is beautiful and peaceful, just the kind of place that will help me to focus on recovery.

Chances are, I am going to be pretty sore after the race, so this will force me to relax.

After a few days, we will head back to St Albans, and I will stay with my parents all the way up until the 22nd April! This will have been the longest I have been home in probably 7 years, and my first easter home since I moved to the US!

The London marathon is April 24th, and I will fly back to the US on the 27th.

The Running

Now, most people use some kind of tune up in their marathon training, but it is usually not an all out effort that requires tapering.

Steve and I have carefully planned out my training so that I make the most of that day by making it into my long run day for that week by doing a long cool down.

Going into the race, I will still have a relatively high mileage week, but a big chunk of those miles that week will come from that race day, and the 3 days before the race will be nice and easy, with reduced volume.

This is how I usually run best. I am not someone who likes to completely run almost nothing before a race, so I should be nice and rested on race day.

After the half marathon, I will take the next week VERY easy; no hard efforts, no real long runs, just lots of easy, slow miles. Most of my recovery runs these past few weeks have been in the 8-8:45 per mile range, and I would imagine this week will be mostly those too.

After that recovery week, I will build back up high for one more week, mostly likely hitting one more high mileage week, before we start tapering back down. There will be some hard efforts in there, and I will still have work to do to get ready for the marathon, but things will be winding down for the most part.

The Strength Training

This is one of the aspects of this 5 weeks at home that scares me a little.

Of course I am going to miss my husband, and of course I would rather have him there with me, but I know I can work out by myself without people being there to watch me, and I know I will get everything I need to do in.

However, my strength training is different. My workouts with Drew are very important to me staying healthy and running efficiently, and without him there to watch me and make sure I am doing the exercises right, I am going to have to be very cognizant of what I am doing.

Tina Muir Strength Coach

Drew has already created a plan for me, and thankfully, as the race draws closer it will mostly be maintenance stuff, but I still intend on completing my strength work twice a week every week while I am home…..just have to figure out where.

World Half Marathon Championships Race Plan

This is a difficult one to explain. Although this is my first world championship and the first time I have represented my country, I am not going to be changing much about the way I race.

We know that I race best my trusting my instincts and just going out doing my own thing for the first half of the race. After about mile 8, that will be where every person counts, I will be trying to reel in and pass every person I possibly can and finish as high up as I can.

This may not be the traditional championship style race plan, but I am not yet at the level where I am competing for one of the top spots, which requires race tactics and in the moment decisions based off other runners.

My primary goal for this race is to enjoy the opportunity of representing England and running in a world championship. This will be a great experience for me, and something I plan to repeat in the future, so good practice on the world stage. I know how I run best, and that is how I plan to make the most of the race.

London Marathon Race Plan

Once again, I am going into the “championship section” of the London marathon, this means starting with the masses rather than starting with the other elite women who are set off 30 minutes prior. The elite field was just a bit too risky for me to end up running on my own, and even though this means I am not eligible to compete for the olympic team (they are selecting the team based on that elite field), I am not yet at the level where I feel it is worth the risk.

Therefore, my plan is to race similarly to last year, where I just want to enjoy the experience and have fun, but maybe this time not quite have as much left with 5 miles to go as I did last time….I would still like to pass people and roll those final few miles, just not 91 people!

Tina Muir London 2015

I am not sure where I am at, and I am trying to not allow myself to think about it. Anything faster than my PR would be considered a success, but I feel confident that I will be ready for a good race, so we will see how I go.

I will be fueling with powerbar gels and water, the same as last year. I will also carry EnduroPacks in my shorts to spray in my mouth a few times.

If you have any other questions, i would be happy to answer them, but unfortunately when it comes to pacing or exact goals, you hopefully know by now that I am not a goals kind of person anymore, I believe in trusting my gut, and listening to my body.

I know that can be frustrating for answers, but that is what works best for me, and I do not want to mess up the mental side of things for myself by exploring those options. I hope you understand 🙂

How do you race best?

half marathon, london, marathon, team gb, world championships

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  • Holy cow! I guess I didn’t know how close the half marathon was!!! I’m SUPER excited for you and, I think the combo of being at home and having a very smart plan already laid out in your mind, is key to your success! March 22 is the day after my birthday so that has to be lucky on some level, right? LOL!!! Go get ’em TINA!!!!

  • I didn’t realize how close it was too but it’s so exciting. I’m not in your shoes but it sounds like you are making a great choice. I think races are more fun when you are able to pass people towards the end,

  • So exciting!! I hope the half goes well for you (and the marathon of course!) – I’ll be rooting for you…while I’m so far behind you at the race haha! I’m using the half as a training run (doing the Cardiff parkrun in the morning as well to get the miles in and a bit of parkrun tourism). I love Cardiff as I went to uni there so it’s hopefully going to be quite a good race.
    You’ve got a great plan and a great level headed attitude, you will be fine!

  • Chelsie Smith
    March 16, 2016 10:11 am

    When you mentioned the English countryside, the cottage from The Holiday was ABSOLUTELY the first image to pop into my mind. And to quote Cameron Diaz, “It sounds idyllic”.

    You have a tendency to get focused and intense and to put a lot of pressure on yourself. Being focused and intense is excellent, but the goal of playing both races by ear and taking the miles as they come, listening to your gut, BY FAR is the best plan you can follow. Be brave, be strong, and BE YOU, Tina!! We’re all cheering you on. <3

  • I love that you’re able to trust your gut and go with your instincts. I may never win a race, but I do know that trusting my gut and my training has worked out well for me in the past.

  • The half is next week?! How exciting!! The English countryside sounds like the ideal place to be to recover. And then to turn around and nail that marathon- if anyone can do it, it’s you!!

  • I didn’t know the half is so soon – how exciting! The English countryside sounds so ideal for recovering and relaxing then before marathon. It sounds like you have a smart and adaptable plan that will bring you success in both races!

  • Martina Di Marco
    March 16, 2016 2:19 pm

    I do have a question re: fueling. I started using Powergels as well. I’m not a huge coffee drinker (<2 cups w/breakfast and espresso or green tea in the afternoon before my workouts), but I always have espresso before my long runs. I used to take caffeinated gels in the past. However, lately I've been feeling fatigued/I've been having a hard time breathing during my long runs. I know it cannot be pace-related since I run my LR 45/60sec slower than MP, so I started attributing this to maybe having too much caffeine during my runs. I noticed from the picture that the Powergel you take is the one with 25mg of caffeine. My question is: how many caffeinated gels you take during your marathon? I'd love your opinion on this since I know you're not a big fan of caffeine. I feel like I need some of it to stay focused during the marathon but, at the same time, I don't want to overdo it. THANK YOU!

    • Hi friend! Well, actually that is not 100% finalized yet 🙂 I am trying out having 2 of the strawb banana for my first 2 gels (7 and 14) and then a tangerine at mile 21, but that is not 100% yet. I want to see how it sits, but by the time we are at the end of the races, the morning coffee is pretty much gone……especially if you take it like me 3 hours before you race (thats about 5-6 hours before you are finishing). That being said, I could see that effect with the too much caffeine….I honestly think part of the reason I crashed in philly was because of the caffeine overload. Do you take it with plenty of water?

      • Martina Di Marco
        March 17, 2016 12:11 pm

        Tina, you’re the sweetes, thank you for your reply!
        I agree with you re: caffeine effect being long gone towards the end of a marathon. However, I came to the conclusion that my problem is probably consuming too much caffeine during my runs vs beforehand. I always take my gels with plenty of water (during regualr LR I even stop sometimes to “enjoy” my gel eheh). In fact, my sensitive stomach is always fine when I take them this way. My original plan was: chocolate (25mg)/chocolate (25mg)/double latte (50mg) but, to be safe, I’ll probably switch to vanilla(0mg)/vanilla(0mg)/chocolate(25mg). Better losing focus/feeling tired than feeling as if somebody is squeezing my lungs 😉

  • Sounds like you’ve thought it all through well and it’s good to have a plan to see you through the next few weeks. Wish you the very best of luck and will be cheering for you 🙂

  • Laura Anderson
    March 18, 2016 9:55 am

    Sounds like you and your team of supporters and coaches have a great plan for the trip and the races! I think you are going to run really well and am excited to see the results! I had to laugh when you mentioned the cottage in “the holiday” because I love that movie and it was totally what I was picturing!

  • Ummm… Half Marathon Race Plan… ‘Mile 8 start reeling in every person I can… ‘ obviously that would be everyone with a GB uniform! ? Best of luck!

  • Well done on the England vest.
    I’m also doing both WHM and VLM. I head out to Font Rome the day after WHM for a final training camp.
    Do you guys run in the same race as us at WHM or go off with the elite men and masses?

  • Christine @ Love, Life, Surf
    March 20, 2016 10:34 pm

    I’m so excited for you Tina!!! Enjoy every moment of this incredible experience.

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