Amsterdam - not long now!

Amsterdam Marathon 2014

With less than two weeks to go until Amsterdam, all the hard work has been done and now the taper begins! 

The longest training run has been completed, 26 miles, but unfortunately it wasn't until the following day that panic stations started. I went out for an easy 4 mile recovery run and 2 miles in I got a sharp pain in my calf.
I slowed the pace, got back home and quickly got on to twitter to speak to Cath for advice. The advice was rest for a couple of days and then go to the gym and cross train to see how it feels. 

So I rested, wore my compression recovery socks for 2 days and then went to the gym and rested it a bit more, so basically had a week off from training. At this point I started to panic a bit more, because of this I had missed my final 5,4,3,2,1 marathon paced session. 

If you haven't heard me talking about the 54321 session before, it's made up of 1 mile warm up and then 5 miles at marathon pace, 5 minutes recovery, 4 miles at marathon pace, 4 minutes recovery and so on until the final mile and then another mile cool down. Total mileage usually comes in about 18 miles, give or take depending on how quick the recoveries are. 

I really wanted to get one more of these sessions in for two reasons, one I really enjoyed them and two because I wanted to be 100% sure that I was capable of running the pace, but it wasn't to be.

The pace I have been running the efforts on has been 6:40 minutes per mile. This would indicate a 2:54 marathon! Which would be amazing and a massive PB. 

But anyway, it wasn't to be and so my taper started probably a bit earlier than planned. I also missed my final 18 mile slow long run which also wasn't great but maybe it was for the best. Only time will tell. 

This last week I've got miles back in my legs, I've managed a couple of marathon paced runs, one of 8 solid miles at 6:40 and another for 4 miles. 

What have a learnt during this marathon's training?

  • Marathon paced runs are a must! I've never trained at marathon pace in the past but it has given me a massive confidence boost
  • Easy runs are a must! These runs are not about the pace, they are just clocking up miles in the legs but at the same time not putting your body under any great amount of pressure or strain. 
  • Time on your own running at marathon pace is good mental prep for the race. Even though there will be thousands of other runners, you still have to battle with your own demons when the going gets tough. 
  • Going out slower is OK - you can make up time easier with fresher legs than you can on tired legs. Going out too fast will result in very tired legs before I'm even finished.

What's the plan for hydration and energy gels during the race?

During the race there will be cups of water, isotonic drinks and water sponges. I plan on using a bit of everything really. Maybe less of the isotonics as I will have High5 energy gels with me and they are an unknown. 

I plan on taking the gels every 5 miles or as close to that as possible, depending on where the water station is.

  • 5 km – Cup AA-Drink Iso Lemon, cup water, sponge
  • 10 km - Cup AA-Drink Iso Lemon, cup water, sponge
  • 16 km - Cup AA-Drink Iso Lemon, cup water, bananas, sponge
  • 20 km - Cup AA-Drink Iso Lemon, cup water, bananas, sponge
  • 26 km - Cup AA-Drink Iso Lemon, cup water, bananas, sponge
  • 30 km – AA-Drink Energy Gel, cup AA-Drink Iso Lemon, cup water, bananas, sponge
  • 32 km – water
  • 35 km - Cup AA-Drink Iso Lemon, cup water, bananas, sponge
  • 38 km - AA-Drink Energy Gel, cup AA-Drink Iso Lemon, cup water, bananas, sponge
  • 41 km – water

If it's a warm day the sponges could be really nice to have! 

So what time am I aiming for?

The simple answer is sub 3 hours. Whether that is 2:59.59 or something faster, I don't really mind. As I said, training is suggesting I could go for a sub 2:55 but I may play it safe. Do the first 15 miles at 6:45 - 6:50 pace then see if I can pick up the pace for the final 11 miles, I may even just keep the pace around 6:45 until 20 miles. What ever I do, I'm going out slower rather than faster. 

I'm also planning on wearing my new compression sleeves for my legs during the race. I've been training with them and they are super comfy and hopefully they will help prevent tiredness in the later stages as well. I've found they have been great when heading up hill, I've felt much stronger and less tired with them on. Now, I know Amsterdam is a flat course but there is no harm in wearing them, plus they match my club vest colours!!

What's left to do now?

Taper, taper and a bit more taper! I've a 14 mile run to do on Saturday and then the miles really start to drop off, 14, 8, 6, 4, 3, 2 then two days rest and then race day! Will be very strange pulling on my kit just to go for a 3 mile run! 

I'll be making mental notes during the race so that I can hopefully put a race report together afterwards but just now, I have trained hard, harder than I ever have for a marathon. I feel ready for it, I'm injury free and really looking forward to running my first race abroad. 

What will I do after the marathon?

Rest will be the first thing. Well, 3 days rest anyway. I start running again, all going to well on Thursday for 2 miles and another 2 miles on Friday. Saturday will be easy 4 miles but the rest doesn't last for long as I have the Forth Road Bridge 10km a week after Amsterdam on the Sunday! I know, a bit soon, but I plan on running it with my wife and just enjoying the race and my training plan does say 6 miles so I thought, why not!

I used to be the race director for this race so it will  be nice just heading up and standing on the start line rather than worrying about organising everything. 

The running then continues with a 6, 5, 5, 6, 6, plan with the Friday off. All of these runs will be at a very easy pace and just a case of getting the legs moving again. 

The Cross Country season will be under way by then as well but my plan is to focus on Inverness 1/2 marathon, I think. Just now I'm saying no marathon next year but plenty of 5k, 10k and half marathons! Who knows, maybe a few PBs along the way! 


Owain Williams

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