My marathon strategy

Ok so my 10th marathon is on Sunday. Do I feel ready? Ehhhh, sort of.

You could say that pressure is somewhat off for this marathon as I’m pacing my friend to (hopefully) sub-4 and in general I tend to finish around 3:40ish and a PB of 3:24:06.. Though let’s be honest, I never really put any pressure on myself when I get to marathon day because I almost always go into it saying “I just want to finish uninjured”. I might have some vague time goals just to keep me in check but generally speaking, as with most of my running these days, I don’t really care about finishing times.

I’ve changed a lot over the years and value healthy running and avoiding injuries, rather than smashing PB’s and constantly getting quicker (I realise one does not equal the other, but for me I’ve found the more seriously I look to get faster then the more I’m dicing with injury risks).

It became quite apparent on the Austria Run Camp that I’m probably too carefree about my training when it comes to times when I compared myself to some of the others. I mean, some could argue that I actually don’t “train”. I never do speed work and when I lead-up to a marathon as long as I hit certain long runs I generally feel like it’s job done. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting a PB but I really don’t love the effort involved in order to get there. That’s not to say I don’t have goals or dedication to my running, it’s just that my goals are less time-focused and more “bigger picture”. I want to run marathon after marathon – collecting those experiences and seeing new places. And I want to avoid injuries… I love running and I love marathons so as long as I can keep doing those things, I’m happy.

But I’ve digressed. This next marathon, the New Forest Marathon, is a bit different for me as I’m hoping to pace my good friend, Mike, to the sub four hour dream. I mean, to be fair, he really should have gotten there on his own by now as he’s a great runner and his PB’s suggest a 3:45ish should be on the cards. But his previous two marathons have missed the mark for different reasons. My plan is to slow him down at the start and then keep him going as we get closer to the end.I’ve found that my best marathon experiences have been about a slow and boring start, ignoring the panic of watching people fly past you and looking at your watch and knowing the pace you’re currently doing is slower than the average pace you’d need to hit your time goal. It’s about holding your nerve. The win here is that once you’ve run those first infuriatingly slow 10 miles, you still have a good amount of energy to begin to pick up the pace slightly as you hit into the “dark” miles. These are the miles from 10-20. You’re not far enough to be feeling confident but you’re not as fresh as you were before.

This is where I like to pick up the pace and focus on the milestones of halfway and 18 miles…probably having two gels during this time. It’s still not about getting too excited, but consistently getting the miles ticked off without making any crazy leaps in pace. When I say pick up the pace, I mean by 10-20 seconds. So often you hear people say, “I was on for a PB until I hit 13/14/15 miles and then the wheels came off”. The wheels shouldn’t even be shuddering at this point. At 15 miles you still have eleven miles to go. ELEVEN miles. It’s a long way.

At 20 miles if everything has gone well (even the best pacing strategy can fail for a number of controllable and uncontrollable ways), THIS is where the moves are made. 10k left to go, break it down to two parkruns. Focus on getting those legs into gear and turning over a bit faster. I mean, “faster” is such a relative term here. Incremental pace increases will feel a lot harder at this point, but the idea is that you make a change. I literally think to myself, “OK I’m just starting a 10k race and I feel like sh**. My legs are heavy and tired” but crucially I don’t allow myself to think about what has gone before. I pretend this is a brand new race. A horrible brand new race, but a new one nonetheless. And if all goes to plan, I’m overtaking people and focused on that finish. I’m counting down the miles. The end is in sight. At mile 24 I’ll probably stop looking at my watch for guidance on what’s left as no doubt I’ve added distance due to tangents etc. and work purely on the race markers themselves.

And that’s my strategy! I hope to finish strongly at the end basically. Nothing beats that feeling of finishing strong. I just hope this happens on Sunday for Mike!

Now onto something a bit random…

Vie Recovery Patch Review

I was recently sent this “patch” to review. I sounded very…different and I was quite intrigued. It’s a patch that contains herbs, vitamins and minerals and, using transdermal technology, it delivers these active ingredients into your bloodstream through your skin. Very weird, but also quite cool. The ingredients contain things like vitamin C, green tea extract, globe artichoke extract, thiamine, taurine and chromium picolinate. It’s apparently an ideal accompaniment to drinking because these ingredients apparently help break down alcohol. So any freshers out there…might be a wise little trick to stock up 😉 Crucially though the patches DO NOT prevent you getting drunk!You just apply the patch to a dry and hairless area of your skin (my arms are quite hairy…the gorilla that I am, so I did my tummy) and leave on for up to 24 hours. For six patches it’s £4.95.

I quite like this for when you’re feeling a bit rough and need a bit of a “pepping up”. I didn’t feel vastly different after using the patch but I haven’t tried it with drinking! I don’t do a huge amount of drinking if I’m honest but I’d be tempted to use these patches if I knew I had a big night out coming out because, yeah hangovers suck. Hangovers are one of the main reasons I don’t drink. I hate feeling like I’ve wasted the next day. But I do enjoy the cheeky G&T or beer. But definitely not this Saturday night!

Have you ever paced someone?

What’s your marathon pacing strategy?

Have you ever tried a transdermal product before?

**Disclaimer: I was sent a Recovery Patch to trial for free in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own.**

7 Replies to “My marathon strategy”

  1. My marathon strategy involves layers (I would have that elusive sub-4 hour if I’d not overheated in Manchester). And layers I can strip off easily! Generally, I’ve gone for ‘not too fast, but not too slow, and maintain the 9 min/mile’. I got *so* close in Berlin. 2 minutes shy.

    The only transdermal product I’ve tried was the contraceptive patch. It coincided with an upset stomach, so I didn’t persist.

  2. I hope it’s going well (or possibly you have finished by now as I have no idea when it started…)- sounds like a great strategy. I’ve only run two marathons, but I found I was so much more prepared for my second one. I do agree that 20 miles is really halfway- for me it was about running steadily the whole way and not worrying about the tide going out as I knew I could stay steady for the last few miles too where other people had stopped to walk.
    I’ve run a 10k with a friend before and she ended up running a pb but in fact I wasn’t pacing her, I was just chatting (I’d been feeling dizzy the day before so knew I needed to run more slowly than usual, which matched her pace perfectly). I’ve been paced though (Andy paced me to my first sub 60 10k) which was really helpful as it took my mind off the pace and I just had to focus on keeping up with him.
    Maria @ Maria runs recently posted…Another parkrun milestone and a brilliant cinema tripMy Profile

  3. This is SUCH a smart way to run a marathon. Ignoring all the people passing you at the beginning, but then passing them at the end. I love the two parkrun analogy for the last 10K. Something that helps me mentally is also to think about it as time on the course. “I only have to do this for 45 more minutes” or whatever the time is and remind myself that how strong I can stay during those 45 minutes will impact the glory I have for years to come!
    Elizabeth C. recently posted…Parks Half Marathon: Race/Workout/Experience/LessonMy Profile

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