Tuesday, 19 April 2011

What have I learned?

Overall I'm fairly happy with what happened in Paris. The weather affected me but having seen the second half times of many peoples' runs in Larnden (where it was warm but not as warm as Paris) I feel I did pretty well in the circumstances.

However, there are always things to learn and always things that could have gone better so I'd like to capture them here. I'm not thinking so much of tactics/responses during the race but of practical measures: training, event, clothing, fuelling etc.

Here goes.

Spring vs Autumn
Having only ever run in Paris I can't really compare spring vs autumn but I can assume there are some benefits to the latter. OK, the training must be done in warmer weather but its likely that the marathon will be completed in cooler weather whereas the inverse is so often true in the spring. Training should also be easier in the sense that there will be no disruption from ice/snow and less impact from wind or rain. It will also be lighter giving greater flexibility of when to run. Finally it will mean that 1/3 of the training will be done in the school holidays (even more flexibility) and 2 weeks while I'm off in the summer (complete freedom).

Big vs Small
With 40,000 runners Paris is undeniably a big event. Chester isn't really small, at 6,500 but I'd hope there's a bit more space at drinks stations and less chance of bunching. The lack of flying and relatively simple travelling should also help.

Training Plan
Arguably I didn't really follow the Brain Training plan. The longer it went on the more confident I felt in changing things round and added to my long runs almost every week. After 8 weeks though I pretty much ditched the drills and the recovery runs - not sure if that was wise. At 24 weeks it was a long plan and to follow that again would mean starting virtually immediately - and I'm not ready for that.

The Pfitzinger & Douglas plan is higher mileage, starting at 55 miles (the peak week for Brain Training) and peaking at 70 miles a week. I have no huge fears of that, though it does include weeks where there might be runs of 22, 15, 15, 12, 6. Big aim in coming weeks is to get up to near 50 and then hope I adapt OK to increases beyond there. I'm confident with the former but the latter is more of an unknown.

A few days before the marathon I weighed 11st 9.6lb, whereas I'd initially hoped to be down at 11st. That weight would undoubtedly have made a big difference - easily enough to take me under 3:30 - but I found it hard to have much of an impact when training. As previously blogged, I'm now looking to lose most/all of the weight down to 11st by early June.

Carb Loading
I found this tough. The volume and nature of the food gave some gastric issues. Only change I can think of though is to get hold of some carb loading 'cake mix' I got from Overstims in 2009. I'll need to order that though.

In race fuelling
This was imperfect. I took 8 gels with me but only used 6 due to stomach problems later on - which may have been gel related or may have been dehydration. The Shot Bloks seemed to cause less stomach issues in training but were difficult to consume at race pace hence the late change to gels. I think I'll go with the SBs again but will have to practice how to take them.

In race hydration
In the race this was probably as good as it could be but I hadn't drank at all in the 2 hours before for fear of needing the loo several times in the race. That may have been a mistake - especially on a warm day. Next time I may opt to carry a drink in the first few miles, with electrolyte mixed, and top this up at the second station. Again, will need practice in long runs.

No complaints here, aside from losing a nipple guard when being hosed! That caused a bit of discomfort later but nothing too bad.

Slightly disappointed. I'd worn the Nikes through all my long runs with no problem but in Paris they felt big, clunky and too cushioned. They also gave me severe black toe nails and huge black blood blister on one toe. Not sure what I'll change to for next time but for now am running mainly in my Newtons.

Used the old SiS belt which was fine for the gels. I also had two 'pockets' I could thread on but didn't use these and (stupidly) threw them away in Paris. I'll need something similar to carry Shot Bloks though. New belt may be needed.

Anything I've missed?


Maria said...

Very interesting. When Andy and I decided to do a marathon, we thought about some of that- eg with the timing we did not want to do an Autumn one, because the long training runs would be during the heat of summer, plus if we were to go away we could miss 2-3 weeks of training at a pretty crucial time. London has never appealed to me as a marathon, but we wanted a fair sized one so I would not be right on my own at the back! (20,000 I think, so still pretty big).In the end, combining it with sightseeing seemed a good idea as the landmarks etc would take the mind off the distance!Anyway, you must have been doing something right as you managed a fantastic pb. :)

~Jessica~ said...

Nope, I think you've covered everything. Having done a winter and a summer marathon, I think I missed the boat on the autumn ideal: if heat is a concern then is there any way you could schedule longer runs before the Sun's up? That's the only way I cope during the summer as I wilt in the heat. Stupid fair skin of mine.

Unless you're really short for a guy then I don't think that the 9lbs will have made *that* much difference to your time, I really don't. More of a psychological weight, perhaps? That nagging annoyance at not losing the weight, combined with the crowded start/course and the heat were probably greater factors in not going under 3:30...I'd have been chuffed to bits with a time like that in such hellish conditions.


BabyWilt said...

"Overall I'm fairly happy with what happened in Paris", and so you should be. I love reading all the training and marathon updates and lessons, ideally I should be making a list ;-) One day when I'm big I'll challenge the 26.2 :-)