February Review 2018 – Learning & Progress

I wrote a review of February 2017 as I was prepping for Manchester Marathon. I started the blog claiming how tough it had been, I was exhausted, drained and really struggling with marathon #2 training. One year on, 3 marathons down and I’m in a much better place. I’m more confident, recovering quicker, listening to my body more and also adapting better.

February 2017 distance – 128 KM (79.55 Miles)

February 2018 distance – 193 KM (120 Miles)

That’s a significant jump considering I still rarely run more than 3/4 times a week and although last year I was also playing football and actively going to HIIT classes, I feel this years’ training is far better suited for my upcoming marathons. I know I should be in the gym more and working more on Strength & Conditioning – and I will have a free gym at my new work! So no excuses next time.


361 Europe event  – Freestak & Sports Shoes

In the past year I’ve learnt a lot about running and training. Especially running easy miles, the importance of speed/tempo training and also listening to your body. There have been a lot of easy or “junk” miles this month which I’ve rarely practiced before. I’m still no expert of the matter but after hearing more about them and some research here are a few key benefits;

  • Strengthens muscles – training slow twitch fibres
  • Adapts tendons, ligaments, joints and bones to stress of running
  • Promotes efficient running form
  • Teaches patience & discipline
  • Trains the cardio, respiratory and muscular systems to work more efficiently
  • Increases the quantity and size of mitochondria, improving oxygen use and glycogen stores

I’ve been trying to find my marathon trainer this month and a lot of my easy miles were whilst testing out the new candidates! The runs felt easy, enjoyable and also provides you with time to focus on your breathing and form.

I’ve finally got back to the track this month too as well as to hill training a couple of times and back to seeing their benefits. The DOMS from both is a killer but weirdly satisfying – knowing you’ve pushed yourself and that you’ll gradually improve week on week.


Not only have I run further this month compared to February 2017 but my average speed has increased and my recovery time has vastly improved. For example I ran 8km the day before my half marathon PB in Milton Keynes. The day after I then went to a hill session and didn’t struggle all that much. Last year after every long run I’d have to rest up for 2 days.

mk finish.jpeg
MK finish

My long runs are also increasing in speed which is encouraging. I do struggle to adjust my speed in the middle of a long run however I feel I am much better at keeping a consistent pace throughout a long run – even on my 33km (20 mile) run last weekend I helped maintain a fairly solid pace.

What’s actually changed then? In reality, not a lot! Just becoming a more experienced runner and knowing when I should and shouldn’t push myself. If I wasn’t running both Brighton and London marathons I’d be very confident about achieving a new marathon PB this spring. However, I think that will have to wait until the autumn – any ideas of which race I should enter? Finding the right kit and fueling right have helped though. I now have trainers that fit perfectly and as mentioned in my previous blog I have tried new ways to fuel.



After moving flat on 2nd Feb I shifted my first long run to a Tuesday, the same evening I had a 361 Europe event – learning of the crazy, epic run Kai did from Germany to China! Therefore, with a shorter week I had 3 rest days before my first longgg run of the marathon training which went very well. 28.5km along the river which is probably my favourite route in London. The day after I went to a “meet your pacer” session for Hackney Half training. I paced a great group on a 10km route from Regents street, regents park and the daunting Primrose Hill!


Week 2 started with a cold return to WildTR and Hills near Holland Park. The legs burned but I got through better than expected, knowing I’d have a couple days rest to follow. A couple of easy runs followed before the MK Half Marathon on Sunday. As the legs felt OK I again went to Hill training on the Monday just to push my legs that bit further. Back on track that Wednesday, I can tell I’ve lost speed, I couldn’t push off quite how I like to but still managed a strong session. Do not neglect speed/interval work during marathon training! You will lose speed and those fast twitch fibres.

Track Love

A couple more easy runs lead me to the last and longest session of 2018 thus far. 33km (20 miles) was the plan and I knew this would be broken into 3 separate runs. I was pacing again for the Hackney Half with Virgin Sport. Leading a 20+ group across London on a Sunday morning is difficult, especially in St James’ Park, Hyde Park and Oxford Street! But I had a good 7 mile run there and 6 mile run home afterwards. A very encouraging 20 miles indeed – if you are struggling with these long runs, maybe try split them in two? Time on feet is the main component here after all. 

Virgin Sport – Pacing Hackney Half

What’s next?

Official Big Half

March kicks off with the Big Half this weekend (snow permitting!) and I can’t wait for this event, a real build up for London even if I am very disappointed with the medal. It’s my birthday the following week hint hint 😉 and therefore a long run in Yorkshire before 2 more longer runs in London alongside a recce of Brighton too. Oh and throw in starting my new job as well! If I can get another 2 x 20 mile runs in during March I will be very pleased and prepared for Brighton & London. Am I still confident I can complete both Brighton & London… hmm not really; But I know I’m in the best shape I have been for a long time – and I’ll give it a proper good go!

How is your training going?

Do you see progress year on year?

Are you running The Big Half?


*PS – Follow me on Freestak https://my.freestak.com/profiles/mbodkin1 



  1. Great reflective post Matt. It’s crazy how tracking performance and looking back over it year on year is incredibly pleasing to see the progress you make and the levels you reach. Stats may be a little geeky, but they sure are helpful in tracking performance. I just wonder when I will hit my peak!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do see progress in my running each year as I’ve pb’ed across different distances each year. My training over the last two months has been consistent except for this week (due to the snow) but I’m hoping that not running will give my legs a chance to rest for The Big Half on Sunday. I’m in group B as well so will look out for you – I’ll most likely be with Paul’s 1:45 funbus. I’m doing Brighton as well but as a long training run instead of a race – I have Rome marathon the previous week which I’ll be racing (hopefully sub 3:40 conditions permitting).
    I didn’t get into New York this year so also trying to find an Autumn marathon, but I’m definitely doing Valencia as it was so much fun last year. It’s in December so should be cooler as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like a great year then too! Hopefully see you Sunday/in Brighton. I’ll be keen to find your thoughts on Rome too. Valencia sounds amazing so I do hope I can run that one.


  3. Congratulations on your improvement! It amazes me how many miles you can pack in a month just running 3 times a week! I can’t wait to go back to those beautiful long runs (still recovering from knee injuries)
    You are going to do great in both of your marathons! You have to tell me how do you recover so fast!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!! Appreciate that a lot – you’ll be back doing those long runs soon I hope too.
      I hope so, that will be the true test of if I can recover quickly


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