Crawley AC’s Paul Navesey continues his training towards Frankfurt Marathon in October and shares his thoughts on not hitting every session as hard as possible.

I sit here writing this as I have just had my training adjusted after a discussion with Allison [Benton, Navesey’s coach]. A regular occurrence, but never a problem, I trust my coach entirely. She probably knows more about my running than I do and definitely pays more attention to training.

My biggest takeaway (aside from the post marathon raid of my favourite Italian restaurant!… Buon Appetito in Burgess Hill if you’re curious) is that I achieved my biggest improvements in races by not training so damn hard.

Much to the dismay of esteemed members of the virtual running community, working at 90% was what worked best for me. Not 110%… or even a meagre 100%, but consistently maxing out at a 90% effort in training.

You don’t have to win training

I rarely ‘won’ training [Oh how times have changed Paulo – Robbie]. The sessions were with some fantastic athletes all performing at a high level themselves, so ‘winning’ would have been a challenge in itself, but being much more laid back about my approach to important sessions made significant improvements.

A few secs per km off of your target rep pace? No bother. A little bit slow on your tempo? Not a problem. Look at the big picture. Putting together a consistent, controlled session in the middle of a training block, lovely. It does not need to be a PB session to be a quality session. Don’t just give it everything in training, get it right in training.

As training partner James Turner has previously advised in his usual insightful manner “We got up on a Saturday morning and ran pretty hard for a while… perfect marathon training”

If in doubt, blame the moon

And if all else fails, whip out the Ben Savill adjustment system. It is a bit of an enigma but if you take wind speed, temperature and something to do with the current moon phase you will end up with a session far better than expected. Some might see it as finding excuses, but Ben’s just a class 3/4 full kind of guy. He sees the beauty in every rep, as long as you’re well dressed.

Yes, this may seem obvious. To some it will be obvious. However, most will have learned the lesson the hard way too and many still have this key marathon lesson to learn for themselves.

August training and racing

I have tried to race fewer hard races in this build up although I couldn’t resist the opportunity to add to the PB collection for 2019. Hopping in to the fantastic low key Birthday Boys 10,000m (Organised by Brighton & Hove AC member Tom Ulliott) for a 10,000m PB attempt. Running about 30 secs inside my previous best.

Tom also organised a 5000m event of the same name, once again very low key but it saw a great run by Steph Twell to bag a World Champs qualifying time!

Aside from that I have been working away on those classic long reps and tempos that have served me so well. Also bagging my longest run, a whopping 3 hours, since I was jogging around with Fast Running’s Robbie Britton for hours at a time [I don’t often go over three hours either – Robbie]

What’s next?

The crux of my marathon build up. September will hopefully be a month of many KMs, lots of sustained effort and two races to enjoy. First up is Copenhagen Half marathon followed by a fantastic local event – Barns Green Half marathon, a route around some fine Sussex country lanes. Always a pleasure to race on home ground.

Just try to remember 90% is enough… except on race day.

If you want to follow Paul on his journey then he’s on Strava and has a red hot Instagram game.

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