My goal for the Chester marathon last year was to go sub 3:50; it was my last chance to get a good-for-age rating in my 40s. It was a pretty challenging target, so I tried a new training plan – the lowest mileage one in Pftzinger and Douglas’ Advanced Marathoning book. The word ‘Advanced’ appealed to my vanity, but it’s also an interesting plan and higher mileage than I’d done before. P&D is an 18-week plan which has four cycles – to build endurance, increase lactate threshold, prepare for the race and then taper. There are hard weeks when you build your mileage and push yourself in speedwork, and then easy weeks when you let your body acclimatise to the training you’ve done so far. In the end, I twisted my ankle three weeks before the race so lost momentum and came in at 3:50:14. (I’m still annoyed about those 14 seconds.) But the 18-week plan served me well.
On Thursday I met my oncologist and was given an 18-week plan for chemotherapy. There will be six cycles three weeks apart, with hard weeks just after treatment and hopefully an easier week before the next one. The pattern of it feels strangely familiar, although it will have the opposite effect on my body to that P&D plan.
I’ve been really up and down this last week – overwhelmed by the response to my last blog and the kindness of friends and family; moments of deep sorrow at all I will lose; focused on plans that give me the illusion of control; toddler-tantrum rage at what is happening to me. There’s lots of information to take in and I’m beginning to angst over surgery in the autumn and the hormone therapy I’ll need after that. But maybe all I need to do is focus on the next step that’s ahead of me. And I know I can do an 18-week plan.