The answer might be to tweak training to eradicate the weaknesses exposed over 26.2 miles, it's frequently the booking of an event for next autumn/spring and sometimes it's the decision to look at challenges away from running for a while.
I'm no different, and after a week of pawing over Garmin data and previous training plans I think I know my answer.
That is to say I think I've refined my answers, as Amsterdam was already booked and I'd taken the decision several weeks ago not to view Paris as an end in itself but as a milestone on a longer journey.
I've got 27 weeks, including last week, until The 'Dam. I know what I'll be doing for the last 18 of those as that will be the Pfitzinger & Douglas 70 miles a week plan. It's what I'd do before that that was most loosely formed in my mind.
Initially I'd thought of having 2 full weeks off from running but the need to be doing 55 miles, running 6 days a week, in 8 weeks time makes that a problematic approach. The initial rest might be beneficial but it would make the ramp up steeper further down the line.
As a result, I decided to build from P&D's 5 week recovery plan, but with a week off beforehand and 3 further weeks of building at the end. I'm hoping that from a running perspective that will allow a number of easy weeks (compared to what came before) but will have me in reasonable shape for starting a tougher marathon training plan afterwards and in terms of running that's it. No speedwork, no runs longer than 15 miles, all fairly regulation stuff and all quite deliberate as, learning from the last 20 weeks, I want running to step out of the limelight for a bit.
Through the Paris training I was so focused on my mileage that I did very little in the way of strengthening, core work or even stretching. It was so easy to skip session after session after session, and I'm sure that had I incorporated these it would have been beneficial for the 26.2 miler, and by beneficial I mean faster!
So, as well as writing up an 8 week running plan I've also done an 8 week cross training plan that I hope will strengthen me ahead of marathon training but also make cross training a habit. I won't go into detail over the content but in summary it includes:
- Daily stretching and foam roller work
- Basic core work 3 days a week
- Leg & glute strengthening 4 days a week
- One gym based weight training session a week
- The P&D dumbbell/body weight weight training session twice a week
On a similar theme my weight wasn't where I'd initially planned for Paris. I was able to lose weight for a week or two but couldn't keep it going. In part that's because, again, mileage was the dominant objective but it also reflects greater difficulty in maintaining calorie deficit when mileage was high.
So, maintaining a deficit while mileage is low in the next 8 weeks is my other big objective. In that way I expect to finally get to 11st by the time marathon training starts. If I drop a pound or two after then I'll be delighted but at this stage that's not something I'll be deliberately setting out to achieve.
The final part of the plan is about taking a mental break from running and pace defining success. In truth weight loss is principally linked to running success in my mind but as I won't be pushing myself while running I need to define success here more as aesthetic. I'm helped in that by having 2 weeks booked in South West France in late July, though staying in an isolated inland gite with private pool kind of makes the beach/pool body a bit superfluous...
To summarise, I'm looking to use the next 8 weeks to allow full recovery from Paris whilst gradually getting me into the best shape possible for (and to allow focus on) the Amsterdam training that follows.
In terms of my aim in Amsterdam, at the moment I'm just saying sub 3:15, but in the same way that Paris started at sub 3:30 and became sub 3:25 I have half an eye on something lower but that is absolutely dependant on weight loss success.
The late Max Jones had a formula for predicting marathon times that proved shockingly accurate (to within one minute) for Paris. Makes me wonder what more I could do?