A delay in writing this as it’s taken a long time to sink in that the 2013 London Marathon has been run. After 3 months of focus to have the event done is a very strange feeling. A real mix of emotions, from joy that it’s run to feeling a little sad and, at times, lost. The training structure did me a lot of good and the motivational benefits of working towards a goal are a lesson I will carry into other aspects of my life. It’s also highlighted how many things I’ve deferred until after the Marathon was run. These things are now piled very high. Some of the list is good: Cycling/MTBing (SC has a new bike), Surfing, Cars, Skating, catching up with friends & family and Alcohol. Some not so good: D.I.Y and chores.
So.. how did it go…..? I managed a 3:32:12, a time am pleased with. It’s not sub 3:30 but it’s miles under the original aim of sub 4. Such an amazing day and experience, no description of the crowd would do them justice. To every person who shouted “Olly, Olly, Olly Oi, Oi, Oi”, “keep going Olly” and in the later stages “Headup Olly” a massive thanks. You all propelled me and kept me going. Special thanks to my Wife(SC) and Sister who cheered with the Meningitis Trust at Tower Bridge and then, as additional bonus when thinking of jogging, at mile 22 as well.
I’d love to say the race went well but it wasn’t without its challenges and learning points…. I failed to negotiate my way into a faster pen and started with runners aiming to do a 4:30. This put a lot of additional strain on my body as I ignored all advice to not zig zag round people and spent most of my time on the outside of corners taking longer lines to get past. Until mile 18 I was stuck in traffic and literally the moment I broke free my left knee started to give me grief. The muscle above my knee decided it’d had enough and cramped / swelled. Despite being uncomfortable this thankfully didn’t stop me running. After 4 miles it was wearing thin and evil thoughts of jogging the remainder started to creep in. At this point two familiar voices started shouting and screaming. My wife and sister surprised me at mile 22 and evil jogging thoughts were banished. Unbeknown to me from around mile 20 onwards my head was starting to dip. The crowd pushed me with lots of people telling me to keep my head up, and keep going.
In addition to the above I managed to stick my Lucozade mile band on upside down making it harder to read whilst running and at 5km(ish) my iphone crashed. Due to the close proximity of other runners and pace I couldn’t attempt to fix it and resorted to using the clocks at mile markers to estimate my pace. Thanks to advice from Jez of Motiv8me.com I was prepared for a tech failure and maths while you run has been a significant part of training. Slightly gutted to not have made sub 3:30 but overall pleased with my time and London Marathon experience. If you’ve ever had any thoughts of running it, do it! It’s been such a life affirming experience, I’ve made some great friends, learnt a lot and even entered next years ballot.
The legendary ‘wall’ never came. Unlike on my first Marathon where at mile 20 it arrived in full force, for London it never appeared. I attribute this to the crowd, the wrong starting pen, training going well and potentially not pushing as hard as I could have (blaming iPhone failure). I’m sure it will catch up with me in the future.
Tom Bedford’s blog has been very useful throughout training and his post marathon blogs are excellent and well worth a read for any runner: http://www.realbuzz.com/blogs/u/Tom_Bedford/running-expert/posts/how-to-bounce-back-after-a-marathon/
To answer his questions / Marathon bounce back blog.
1. Why stop now? & 2. Lose your belly, not your fitness!
I’m eating a lot but I always did as many friends will testify of my hollow legs. My marathon diet has been very healthy and I will keep that up (lots of lentils, root veg, spinach and nuts). Very much enjoying this level of fitness and keen this is the start of something rather than the end. I’ve ended up liking running a lot more than I thought I would but need to devote time to other things and goals. I’ll continue to run but hope to balance it by cycling swimming, cross training at circuits and surfing.
3. Challenge yourself!
I’ve entered the ballot for London 2014 and I’d like to think a 3:20 is possible, if I build on this level of fitness. But, I’m also convinced half marathons are a lot easier to fit around other things and can be just as much fun to train for. Therefore I’ve two new running goals for the next 12 months.
1. Run a Sub 1:30 Half Marathon. My PB current stands at 1:39 from my first and only half marathon, Bath in 2012
2. Log 1000 miles in RunKeeper for 2013
In addition to the above I want to work on my posture. Working in IT means sitting for long periods and I’ve always had a pretty hunched posture. With pyshio and additional training I hope to improve this over the next year. Posture and core are key to so many things that an improvement here will help many aspects of my life, health and fitness.
4. Take a pew and let’s review!
“You have just completed your full marathon cycle and now is the perfect time to review what went right or what went wrong. Review your training and make notes. Here are some prompters:”
Did you achieve your target? Why not?
Nearly, see above :D.
How much better do you think you can do?
I’d like to think 10 minutes better but certainly sub 3:30.
How was your race day diet (pre, during, post)?
Pre: Good – I’ll stick with 2 (or 3) poached eggs on toast, a banana and 1 litre of SiS electrolyte mix. Next time I’ll buy a SiS sachet rather than carry a premixed litre around London with my luggage.
During: Just right – 4 (one spare) SiS orange energy gels taken at miles 6,12,18 & 22/23ish, at least a bottle of Lucozade, and a minimum of four bottles of water.
Post: Fun – First beer tasted good and I ate like a pig for 3 days. With hindsight a protein shake directly after would have been good and more protein required over the first two weeks than I ate / drank.
Did your training go to plan? Why not?
95% of it did, very pleased with my training and all the advice, coaching and experience I received form Truro Running Club (TRC) and Jez (Motiv8me.com).
Did your training fit in with your work schedule?
Yes, but looking at my todo stack a lot of things didn’t fit with running and training over 3 months. If I run another Marathon more work needs to be done to accomodate having a life as well.
If you were starting this again tomorrow what would you change?
I’d start earlier and not run a marathon ‘by mistake’ in training. This was ambitious and with hind sight cost me two weeks of training during a key period. I’d also look to do a lot more core work and cross training. May be one less run a week to be replaced by circuits.
I’d book onto more half marathon / 20 mile official races to get more race practise. A lot of the apprehension from London came from the alien environment of race day. With hindsight I could have done with more dealing with other runners, overtaking and pre-race prep (mental and logistics).
Would you seek more experience/ personalised advice?
No, very pleased with the advice, coaching and experiences I’ve had. I’d encourage anyone remotely interested in running to join a running club. TRC is a fantastic club that have been very welcoming and shared a lot of experience and coaching.
What sessions did you feel really prepared you for race day?
Without a doubt running a long run every Sunday (without fail, since the start of January) has been my best training. Forcing me to to get up as if it were race day, practise my race breakfast/fueling and head out in almost every conceivable condition.
All the advice I’ve received / read says the same thing: don’t ignore the long runs! Each run has taught me a lot, helped my confidence and prepared me for the 26.2 miles of London. To contradict my reply about my accidental marathon being a mistake it did help with my confidence levels and pushed me to aim for 3:30 from Sub 4. Still wouldn’t advice it but it helped in its own way.
What races worked in your schedule? I.e. Half marathons, 16/20 mile race?
Not enough races: next time I will enter half marathons and more 16/20 mile races
How could you improve your diet next time?
Being a healthy eating junky this was an easier challenge. I’d definitely eat more beetroot, spinach and sweet potato earlier on in training. In fact, I hope to continue eating the same levels as my later training stages now. Even if the benefits are placebo I felt great and that counts for a lot.
What injuries did you pick up? How can you avoid them in the future? (i.e. More regular massage?)
After the race I struggled with my ITB / Knees. Mainly my left knee and a minor ligament issue with my left foot. After 26.2 miles at 8 mins a mile I’m relatively happy with that. However, over the next few months I’m hoping to focus on improving both. Working on core, posture and flexibility with yoga, cycling, circuits, swimming and surfing. I’m even tempted by my wife’s Davina Fitness DVDs, if it will help and SC fancies dusting them off too.
Would you include more stretching or core stability in your training?
Yes, definitely room for improvement here. Weekly yoga and circuits are a must for next time.
That’s all folks! Still not sunken in it’s complete. I’ll keep running and some running posts coming but I’m hoping to keep a roughly weekly blog publishing with more articles on other interests to keep me motivated and practising writing. Thanks for reading this far and the comments / support.
Massive thanks again to all donators, supporters, readers, Truro Running Club Members and to my wife SC for putting up with me the last 4 months. I hope SC feels I did her proud 😀 and it was worth it.