Learning from past mistakes

In the absence of any actual running yet, I thought it'd be an idea to have a look back at how I did last time, to see how I can improve.

The first, most blindingly obvious, point is that it's not easy to run a marathon when you're leg's screwed.

To get other, less obvious lessons, needs a bit of work.

One of the cool things about the London Marathon is the training chips you attach to your trainers to get split times around the course. These start the clock when you cross the start line, which is cool if you're stuck at the back as it can take half an hour or more to get over it and it'd be a bit harsh if you were timed from when the elite's set off.

On the downside, I can't use my starting position as an excuse for why it took so long!

As you're running/hobbling around, you run over sensors in the road at 5k intervals, halfway and the end. Pretty soon after, you can log onto the website to get a breakdown of your splits at these times.

The splits start ok-ish, I guess. The 5 and 10k's include a loo stop apiece, and the 15 and 20k's (when I felt I was running well) reflect the fact that because of the stops, I was stuck in the crowds, but was getting up to decent pace.

The 25k included a stop to say hello to family, the crowded bit around London Bridge and heading towards Docklands.

After that, it all went very wrong.

If you took my first half split of 2:15.35 and projected even halves I'd have been done in about 4:30. If you take out the piss stops and the fact the crowds eased the nearer the end, there was a good chance I was gonna hit 4:15 or less, which I would have been chuffed to bits with!

Sadly, the second half took nearly 40 minutes longer than the first, and my mile pace rose from 10:21 for the first 13.1 miles, to 13:20 in the second, giving me an average of 11:51 per mile overall. That doesn't sound a lot, but when you multiply it over the many miles, it makes a big difference,

I was hoping for just shy of 10 minutes miles, so to be two minutes a mile slower than I wanted, over 26.2 miles, is pretty crap.

I didn't hit the wall last time – mainly because my knackered leg meant I couldn't run hard enough to burn up all the carbs I'd loaded up on beforehand.

That's a plus, as I now know the carb loading, and the long runs in the training, did prepare me pretty well. I also discovered that trying to run 26.2 miles through London on a knackered knee is pretty dumb.

So, the first few lessons are:

  • don't run injured
  • don't drink too much before the race
  • try to stay out of the crowds
  • build long runs into the training
  • eat a diet composed almost entirely of pasta
The second sounds easy, but at the start, you're trying to keep hydrated, there's nerves, and free tea and Lucozade. I'm from Yorkshire so it's against my genetic programming to turn down free stuff.

Especially tea!

The third could be more problematic as your starting position is dictated by your predicted time.

I'll not tell you what I put down yet, but it's based on my best pace from training last time, so with some injury-free luck and the extra weeks of training this time, that could be an underestimate, but eminently doable.

Long runs are a pain, as it means getting up early on a Sunday morning, during winter months, and running for potentially three hours. Not my idea of fun at a weekend, and visiting family and friends or stag do's can make it easy to think that you could just skip them.

So I need to be more disciplined about them, and remember that these are the ones that'll actually make it easier on the day. Though thinking that at 6am on a frosty Sunday morning when the duvet calls isn't something I relish.

As for pasts, I got sick of it last time. Yeah there are other carbs – spuds, rice etc, but it can get dull. So, please send recipes to the usual address...

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