Thursday, 17 April 2014

Post Marathon Reflection

All the marathon talk in the last week post London has been around Mo Farah's debut in the event with a 2:08.21.

Just reading the BBC website about Farah...

"Mo Farah finally struggled for answers"
"Farah's 2 hours 8 minutes 21 seconds on his London Marathon debut on this sunny Sunday morning may have seen him finish down in eighth place, not just among the elite also-rans but more than a minute off Steve Jones's 29 year old British record and almost four minutes off winner Wilson Kipsang.

To be fair to the author (Tom Fordyce) he does go onto put the performance into some perspective talking about the hype that was built up around Farah and an admittance that actually he didn't do much wrong.

The early pace in the race meant Farah, running sensibly in the first 6 miles, found himself cut adrift and forced into pushing hard in the second quarter.  The tracking tool (where there is no hiding!) shows the section between 20km and halfway was the quickest section of the race.   Slowest section between 35k and 40k.   I think most marathon runners can relate to those stats!  Oh and he messed up a few drinks stations.....

I'm sure Farah will be disappointed but for many people to write him off then really I think they need to take a reality check....

Only the great Steve Jones has run quicker than Farah from a GB perspective and this performance puts Farah as the fifth quickest performance on the list of British men's marathon times and breaks the English record held by the great Charlie Spedding.  

In reality the field at London was one of the best assembled and Wilson Kipsang is world record holder, course record holder at London and more significantly in his 9th marathon.   His debut in Paris in 2010 shows 3rd place in 2:07.13.   Other than a 3rd place in the 2012 Olympic Games where he ran 2:09.37 Kipsang has an exemplary marathon record which includes the World Record mark set in Berlin in 2013 where he ran 2:03.23.

Let's hold the verdict on Farah as a marathon runner once he has done a second or third marathon.  And for all those people who have a view on Farah but have never run a marathon before put your money where your mouth is.  Lace up your running shoes and go out there and bang some miles out in preparation for a marathon and see how you do in your debut 26.2 miles.  

I've had some time to reflect on my own Marathon in Manchester and definitely feel there were some learning points that will springboard me to a quicker time.

1.   Training and the build up - no major changes needed just more of the same, avoid injury and just tweak the mileage up a little.

2.    The race - again no major changes just quicken the pace by a few seconds a mile and keep the pace consistent.

3.   Final stages - really only struggled in the last two miles.  Mentally I was strong but physically I was on the edge.   A few more long runs in the bank and some specific marathon pace work should help.  I was running from just before half way to about 24 miles with Emily Wicks who went onto record 2:38.21 exactly a minute in front of me.  That's almost 30 seconds a mile taken out of me in the last 2.2 miles.  

4.   Race Nutrition - think this is where I made errors on the day.   I didn't feel in control of my nutrition.  Carried a couple of gels which I used as planned.  I then missed the first official gel stop on the course then relied on the product provided later by the organisers which was shot bloks.  I've never used them before, they were difficult to chew and not something that I would use in future.   That was an area I was complacent with as I have never had a problem with gels affecting me.   That said I don't think it made too much of a difference to me but to make the small gains you need to look at all aspects.

Ultimately I would like to master the marathon distance and whilst as runners we are never happy with our pb (there is always more to come off!) I would be more than satisfied with a marathon pb of under 2:34.   That's a good five and a half minutes away yet so I know I will have to work hard to get there.   

Marathon performance of London for me has to be Steve Way.   Check out his highly entertaining blog here...

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