/ Sub 4 hour marathon
Nutrition can play a big part, but start testing now to see what you can handle. - I would suggest a gel every half hour or hour.
If you get on with it, caffeine is also a big performance enhancer in the right dosage. Some people take it the whole way through, I tend to save it for the last hour of an event.
I'm not an expert (other on here know more than me) but you would probably benefit from some speed work for a couple of weeks, km or m intervals but I wouldn't do any in the 10 days leading up to the event.
I've found speed work to be beneficial, again, I'm no expert but intervals and fartlek training are a good way to change it up a bit. I've not done a marathon (one in october) but with the couple of halves I've done, some shorter fast runs were useful as well as the long steady distance.
I think if you're not a pro, fartlek is a better way to go for a marathon than intervals, just put some sprints and some hills into your normal workouts, got me under three hours no probs. Now then under an hour for 10 miles, that's when I really needed speed work, intervals etc.
How are you getting on with your longer runs? Distances / Pace. Are you running anything faster than target marathon pace? Are you using gels or anything now? During the race or even fairly close to the race is no time to test them. Personally I hate them.
My experience of running my first (failed and also last to date) marathon is that 4Hr pace (which I was on for 17 of the 18mi I did) is pretty steady, not much of a cardiovascular challenge for someone moderately fit but I just wasn't well enough conditioned or tough enough mentally to keep going. In the end my hips seized up and I couldn't face 3-4Hr more of crippled hobbling for a finish. If your training has got to the point where you can definitely go the distance around that pace I'd suggest you shoot for just under 4Hr to give yourself time for a pee/stumble/traffic then stick to your split times plan for as long as you can. Good luck.
run on a negative split, worked for me on 10k and 10 mile races although I never tried it on longer races
Make sure you don't need to stop for a pee, practice going to bed well hydrated and see how much you can drink in the morning and on the run without needing to stop for a pee mid run.
Thanks for the replies. My shorter training runs 11-18 miles are usually about 7.5-8 min mile pace but on the longer 2 I've done at 20 and 22.5 miles the pace drifts out towards 9 min miles for about the last 5 miles. I've got about 4 weeks left so looks like I need some speed work and more gels on the day. I've just been taking 1 gel and a few jelly babies on the longer ones.
HAve you any race times? park runs 5k? 10k? interval times?
What are your long runs and how is your pace on them? even? slowing?
Its almost impossible to say. For an aerobically fit guy you should have enough speed but will need the distance.
Then you should be fine for sub 4... If you get go sub 8 for 18 you can probably shoot for 3:30ish...
Add at least one more 21-22 miler... maybe next week or this weekend.
could also make up 2 different pace wristbands 1 for 4hr and another for a slightly faster time maybe 3:50. takes the maths out of changing pace mid race
If you've only four weeks to go I'd go easy on the fartlek/intervals. Easy to go crazy & injure yourself. If you really want to do some fast work then don't go mad. Some faster work in the next two weeks is probably not going to make a great deal of difference but if your mind says you're getting faster then that's OK. I'd not do anything beyond the next two weeks on the interval front.
Gels? I don't see the need for them & have never used them. Getting enough water down your throat from the paper cups is much more important.
Be really careful with gels, whatever strategy you choose, test in advance. What you eat the night before and have for breakfast is as if not more important than fuelling during the race.
I agree with Iain, you seem to be a faster runner than 4 hours, run on a schedule based on the average pace of your best 20 miles, or slightly faster. You seem to be training faster on your long runs than you 4 hour target, this is unusual. I train 30-60 seconds slower per mile than marathon pace on my long runs, shorter races and speed work 30-60 seconds faster than marathon pace.
Or plan them.
My best marathon time was 3:08 in Paris and I had to stop for a pee - but I factored that I would need it around the Bois des Vincennes, a massive park in the east of Paris and the crowds were sparse - a quick run behind a tree and I was done - 20 secs knocked off the time I reckon. It helps being male of course!
Yeah I wouldn't worry about a piss.. maybe a minute max.. but the losses of holding on if really need it or being under hydrated are far worse..
Make sure you know what your target pace feels like, both on fresh legs and on tired legs. You want to have that speed dialled in, i.e. not go too fast at the start and not too drift towards the end.
Do the second half of your long run at this speed.
And finally: How do you know it's your last marathon? Most people want to do it again ;-)
Sorry maybe I've not explained my times very well - they're all over the place:
13.2-13.8 miles - 1:37-1:39 hours
15 miles - 1.:57-2:01 hours
17 miles- 2:15-2:27 hours
20 miles - 3:02 hours
22.5 miles- 3:24 hours
So you can see as the distance extends, the 4 hour thing gets marginal
unless you really are 'chubbs' :-)
endurance is about nutrition, so get eating! :-)
At 22.5 miles you probably haven't quite "hit the wall" I never found that it actually existed as "a wall" although unless you're super trained you will slow down in the last few miles. I.e. Beyond 22.5/23 miles. So unless you've trained your body to long slow distance runs and you're fully rested and fully fuelled and fully hydrated and got room to run your own "race" then I wouldn't plan running your marathon to arrive at 22.5 in 3.24 hours. Your first marathon is always an unknown and a learning experience. You can always "race" your next one.
I would say that rather than specific miles that once you get over an hour 45 then hitting the wall is very possible.
As you say, in the longer runs your pacing is very irregular. Why is this - hills, dehydration , too fast start? Lack concentration? Which marathon are you doing - london? If so, it's not hilly and you can get plenty of liquid and gel onboard, plus you should be rested.
Rather than a specific tip my advice would be to do another long run and try to prepare for that so you don't get the pace issues again. Do you have people you can run with?
Toilet stops rarely make or break a marathon - people have run 2;08 with them
Speed work will help when you're feeling particularly energetic (there are times this will happen!) And nutrition is vital. Plenty of advice on nutrition on most marathon or fitness websites.
Not to make you think you don't need to do any of the above but take in to account the adrenaline on the day and the atmosphere may also speed you up. I said "may"! Good luck!
My main bit of advice would be to get your body used to running at the same time as the race. If you normally run in the evening or lunchtime and then ask your body for a marathon starting early in the morning you will very likely feel tired and not get the pace you expect.
Also, don't try out carb loading or energy gels for the first time in the race in case your stomach doesn't approve ;-)
Finally, why not go in for another marathon in a few months? Doing another one with a few months more more training and the experience of this one to tune your tactics a bit will almost certainly get you a better time.
Thanks for all the suggestions. Having now read up a bit more on nutrition it's obvious I've not been taking anything like enough nutrition on long runs. I'm going to factor a bit of speed work into my tapering now and hope the combination of the above does it.
If it's London then the best of luck. I would doubt though if there's enough space for you to run your own race. Whatever....enjoy it & then GO FOR IT next time.
Even in the first London with only 6,255 finishers, I was clocked in at 3 hrs 52 seconds, my own stop watch started when I crossed the start line said 2 hrs 58+ mins, nowdays it must be impossible to get an accurate time unless you time yourself.
Chip timing Al, although the problem at big races is finding room on the road to run over the first few miles.
Having stareted this thread I just wanted to reply for the benefit of anybody else searching on this topic in future. I ran London last weekend as my first marathon and in the end ran a 4:15, following a re-occurence of an on-going calf problem at 6 miles and hitting the wall at about 23 miles. A few lessons learned:
- there is much good advice in this thread from others, especially around not investing too much 'emotional capital' in your first one, especially if achieving your target time is marginal
- get your nutrition right well in advance. Don't try new foods / gels for the first time in the race
- if you get an injury in training, get some good sports physio asap, rather than soldiering on
- for me getting used to the lack of energy around 20 miles plus, would have been better coped with by doing more 20+ mile runs in training rather than the 2 I did. I also think I cut corners on the volume of lower mileage training runs, which I don't think helped with endurance overall
- again if your target time is marginal, in big races, it may be better to ensure you are are at the front of your pace group at the start (or even get into a slightly quicker pace group), to avoid getting bogged down in traffic in the early stages
- if you have only got 4 gels, don't stand next to the 'Billy 10 gels' from Clapham. It will make you feel inadequate.
- if you are running in a group with people in fancy dress, don't run with Spiderman, Wonderwoman and Bananman. It will make you feel inadequate.
Thanks people for all the advice.
'Billy 10 gels' will be doing a Paula every 1/2 mile from mile 15. No prizes for carrying the most gels, prizes come from what works for you, for me that is no gels, small amounts of water only except maybe a mouthful of energy drink in the last few miles.
Don't worry about it. When I ran the Great North Run I struggled to keep up with the Loch Ness Monster. He eventually beat me to the finish line.
Yeah...I got beaten by a pantomime horse!
My first marathon I got beat by a fat guy carrying a rucksack full of money. I went past him after about 1km when the field spread out enough to actually run, with him already gasping for breath at the side of the road, and then at about 26 miles he miraculously appeared with his jangling rucksack a bit in front of me.
Never mind fancy dress. When the day is not going well, you just look at the sizes of the arses in front of you and think what it must mean about you that they are ahead.
Look at this picture:
The guy at the front is me, I was having a bad day, it was hot and I was about 90 seconds down on my PB, this is right before the finish and bang on 41 minutes in a 10k, look at the size of the guy behind me. Some big guys can shift. I am aware of a 'fat lad' at one local club that runs sub 36 10k.
There's a bloke in our club, just turned 50, looks a bit bigger and wobblier than the bloke behind you in your pic. He's got a really wonky running style, and if you saw him, you wouldn't think he'd be good for anything. He did 3.17 in the Dublin Marathon last year.
I trained for my first marathon with a guy who was clinically obese! .... it was his third marathon and did it not much over 4 hours!
There's a few who don't look that fit..
Look at Rooney though, obviously people have concerns about his fitness but he is very quick and fit for a big guy, you'll see much more athletic people than him ran into the ground before he does.
There's a top Scottish runner who doesn't look that fit and was much bigger but he's one of the top ultra runners in britain.. its the old don't judge a book by its cover.. certainly I'm almost always fastest fatty..
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