Saturday, 4 January 2014

How to run a sub 2.50 marathon

Because in the not-too-distant future I would like to run a sub 2.50 (or quicker than that even) marathon, I thought it might be useful to put together a guide on how to do so.
Of course, this is something I am yet to achieve, so just like medical advice that is given by a lawyer. this information is not to be relied upon. Quite the contrary, my best time for the marathon so far is 2.59 which I ran in Berlin in September 2013. More recently, I ran 3.02 in Taipei in December 2013. As such, if anything, perhaps you'd be better not only not relying on what I say, but instead advising me on how to achieve my dream.
Of course, being a runner, I know quite a few people who run a lot faster than 2.50. For example, my coach, Thomas in his debut marathon ran 2.21. He has since run faster, but I feel even his debut time is not something to be sneezed at.
Similarly, I have lots of friends in Hong Kong, including female friends who've smashed the 2.50 mark. Needless to say, they are my idols.
As such, while my coach and running colleagues are great sources of information, because I am right now in rural France, I have had to rely on the very informative internet as to how to achieve this dream.
Fortunately, there are both a ton of people who've run sub 2.50, and in addition, a ton of those people have written guides on how to do so yourself.

Here are some of the best;

1. Don't go the wrong way; this seems like a good tip. 42.2km is far enough to run! Another good tip from the same blog is to be confident. For example, you should start by trying to psych out your competition before the gun goes so that you beat them;

  • Doing some really weird stretches that no one has ever seen before
  • Putting your Garmin around your ankle
  • Going up to people and saying “well obviously you know who I am, what is your name?”
  • Gregorian Chanting
I must confess, I've been guilty of this kind of "psyching out" behaviour - at least in 10km races. Loudly and brashly asking those around me what the course record is, and saying I thought I could smash it, certainly got me a few funny looks. 
Another good psych out tip to use during ironman race briefings is to put up your hand when the questions section comes up, and ask, "what do you get when you win?"

2. Stop being such a sissy (ok, I paraphrased that, but in essence this seems to be the underlying message from this blog). The writer goes on to say that, 
(Running fast) can be taught regardless what ability level you are currently at but you have to understand, people who do things at the elite level aren’t any more special than you. I want to be very clear with this.
The difference lies in their attention span not diminishing in the face of adversity. Do you want to know the difference?
What you think of as pain, elite athletes think of as pleasure. You switch those two mindsets and you will be well on your way to do drastic improvement in your marathon times.

I've got to say, I'm not sure that I entirely agree with this. I kind of think that actually Paula and Kara and all the other female elites who are sponsored by Nike and the rest, are actually a bit more special than me. They possess an innate natural ability that I just don't. I'm sure they also train a hell of a lot harder, but there is still no accounting for talent. Still, I guess it could just be that I'm weak in the head and need to toughen up
3. High volume - do it.  
"The way I ran 2.59 marathon was with high volume. However looking back I'm sure I did way too much and in turn went in to the Marathon very tired, just scrapping through under 3hrs! It was a disgusting pain from about 16miles and I think the only reason I did it was because for some reason I've never been so determined!

While this blogger only got to 2.59, I think the principal still stands.  Essentially, it sounds like he might have run even faster if he wasn't exhausted. I think the real tip to take from this is don't get exhausted. I'm not sure how to achieve this though. It's a little like saying, "don't get injured". Of course, you can do things to prevent either scenario, but you certainly can't guarantee it won't happen. 

4. Don't do too much volume and stay relaxed. 
You simply have to believe the advice of 2.31 marathoner, 2.59 ironman marathoner and Spinervals GOD Troy Jacobson if for no reason other than that, when it comes to riding the indoor trainer, he's the man. 
One of his goals was to run a sub 3 hour marathon off the bike in ironman (i.e after a 3.8km swim, and 180km) . Having run very close to 3 hours several times in an ironman, he thought it would be easy. He  discovered he was wrong. (Really? No way!) It took him quite a few attempts to break the 3 hour mark. He gives great tips on getting your already relatively speedy marathon time down, and importantly, tips that help shave off those crucial last few minutes. 
Some of my favourites are to stay relaxed and keep the bounce in your step. My coach is always on at me to stay relaxed, even when I'm about to vomit, Thomas is like, "relax Jane, relax". Haha. I find in a marathon if I relax, I stop. 
Though I get pretty nervous pre-race, I'm not the only person pre-race that doesn't feel relaxed. For example,  at the start-line of Berlin marathon, a guy next to me retied his shoelaces about twenty times. He was shaking badly as he did so. While I felt sorry for him, it also helped me feel a bit netter knowing that I'm not the only one who gets nervous. 

5. Don't vomit and keep your clothes on.
These are very good tips. Especially since they were given in the context of what to do - or what not to do - on the start line.  If you have time to read it, this is a great guide by an inspiring mum who ran a 2.48 marathon (my dream for this year!) I especially like that her makeup still seems intact at the end of the race. Talk about racing like a lady! Or maybe her cheeks are just rosy, either-way, she looks pretty fresh. Inspiring, and makes you think that it's possible if you work hard enough. 

In summary, it's very simple to run a sub 2.50 marathon;
Go the right way while not vomiting on yourself (easier said than done);
Run a lot but not too much;
Stay relaxed while you embrace the pain. 

Having this information, I can't believe I haven't run sub 2.50 already. Now to just start training.... 

For more hilarious motivational marathon signs, try this link.

1 comment:

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