Chasing the dream
Numbers often say more than words ever can, so let’s start off with Aly Dixon’s 3:07:20. For us runners, that looks like a nice marathon time - sensational even for a 41-year-old.
But those figures don’t refer to the marathon - they’re Aly’s time for 50km, a world record she clocked in 2019. Her marathon? A not too shabby 2:29:06.
And still clocking amazing times, Aly took the W40 title at the 2020 England Virtual 5k champs, clearly using the current restrictions we’ve all endured to good effect.
"I cut back on volume but increased the intensity, focussed on shorter, faster stuff. I added in some work on the bike, replacing my second runs with a cycle. At first it was turbo based due to the once a day outdoor exercise rule but when that was lifted, I built up the courage to actually go outside.
"I've gradually increased my mileage back up and starting to convert back to more 10k/half marathon focussed sessions but I'm still nowhere near full training yet. I don't plan to get back to full training for a while. I was also lucky that my gym loaned me a bar and plates so that I could continue my strength and conditioning in my back yard. I couldn't get a squat rack though so had to use two wheelie bins as a substitute!"
As the racing world begins to reopen, Aly has some serious targets to keep her focussed. "In the immediate future there are a few races saying that they still plan to go ahead the back end if next month and early September, so I have a 10k and half marathon pencilled in. Then I am down to be a pacemaker for the elite women at London marathon. After that I've not got anything planned.
Looking to 2021 my big aim is to win a 4th Blaydon Race to equal Jill Hunter’s win record and then run the Chicago Marathon to complete the 6 Abbotts Marathon Majors and hopefully become the second female to complete all six majors plus the Worlds and Olympics, though I'm currently racing Joan Benoit (1984 Olympic champion and general marathon legend) and Deena Kastor (former winner of the London Marathon and Olympic bronze 2004) for that accolade!"
Aly’s Top tips…
I always work on ensuring I get three key workouts in, for me usually over a nine-day period rather than seven-day.
They are, a fast interval session, a tempo run (I class around marathon pace as my tempo but for those doing shorter distances 10k pace is more likely) and a long run. I like to do my long run at a good pace, so it becomes my third hard day in my training cycle. I take two easy days between each of these workouts to ensure I’m recovered enough and I take a rest day after my long run.
For improvers I'd recommend an interval/fartlek (10×1 min on/1 min off), 20 min tempo (aim to maintain pace throughout) and a long run of 90 minutes plus a recovery run the day after the intervals and tempo.