Sub 3

For anyone trying to crack the 3 in any marathon anywhere in the world

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23/10/2012 at 09:50

Padams - I’ve run a few ultras, including that 45 miler for the last three years.  Even so, I’m not sure I have any authority to give advice to someone with your history of achievement in rowing/running/triathlon.  But I’ll take solace in the fact that you marathon PW is slower than mine, and who needs authority when tapping away behind a keyboard anyway!

Most important thing is to state the bleeding obvious:  there are myriad ways of training for an ultra.  Follow your instincts.

From my own experiment-of-one, I believe that running lots of miles is good because you have to train SLOW – important to develop an aerobic engine and an efficient running style (at slow paces) that will not cause serious problems after 4 or 5 hours constant running.  I think back-to-back long runs are most important from a psychological viewpoint – teaching the mind that although you feel dead on your feet, you can still run for another 2 or 3 hours without slowing down.  To this end, you have an advantage already - climbing off the bike at the end of an Ironman bike leg and dealing all manner of mental doubts within the first few miles of the run more than trumps back-to-back long runs in training.  The problem you might face is that most of your running is probably quite quick – and so your running efficiency at slower paces could be relatively poor.  Not sure you should dramatically change your training to deal with this (your slow pace efficiency could be just fine anyway!), just hope for the best on the day .  Maybe the odd back-to-back long run could be useful, but only as long as they go ok!

The course is undulating and muddy during the first half (and lots of navigating required – no course arrows for this race!), and then flat as a canal path and good underfoot for the second half.  Run at a comfortably hard pace, take walking breaks on steep climbs or when navigating during the first half to protect the legs, and then pick back your ears and release both plums after 30 miles.  Best of luck anyway –you could definitely finish in the top three.  If Craig Stewart turns up again, and is on top form, I think you might have your work cut out to finish within half an hour of him though!  I don’t think I’m doing it next year – much as I’d like to, I’m running back-to-back marathons the following weekend with the (probably unrealistic) aim of two sub-3’s on consecutive days so will need fairly fresh legs.

23/10/2012 at 10:01

Thanks for the well dones etc - much appreciated!!

Re my negative split - I think Ode can take some credit for that. I was chatting to him before the race re running to heart rate, and I basically stole Ode's marathon race plan! So I stuck to HR for the first 15ish which meant I ran a very evenly paced race. My 2 half splits were 1'26'45 and 1'26'18, so it worked out great really. So thanks Ode - I know you're lurking

Some other great performances at the weekend too. Fantastic to see wardi getting a bit of return for all that hard work - well done mate, and yes, be good to see you at a race soon.

Top XC-ing from padams, CC, joolska and PP. Great PB the next day too Phil, and an impressive drinks selection

Glad to see Andy D and LJ's shin issues seem to be on the mend. Good luck this weekend Andy - hope it all goes to plan.

SL - shame you weren't there on Sunday as I reckon you'd have probably won it (2'32 was winning time) - but probably a wise decision in the end.

Oh and in tribute to zaTTu I had a few Hobgoblins last night. Feel like shite today. Cheers fella

23/10/2012 at 10:02


23/10/2012 at 10:02


I think

23/10/2012 at 10:13

Cheers njord although you make a very valid point.

Oh and to clarify - I think my post above makes it sound like Ode was running on Sunday. He wasn't. I picked his brains via email a couple of weeks or so before the race, as I remembered that he'd raced VLM to HR and had a very strong finish. Sorry for the confusion!

23/10/2012 at 10:42
PhilPub wrote (see)

My pre-marathon weekends are all about long bike ride one day and long run the next (with the odd XC or road race thrown in to disrupt the pattern.)  I've just found out that the velodrome will be open all year round now, which is nice.

Marigold - Hats off to you again, great report.  I take it Peroni isn't on the banned substance list then?

TR - Sunday was a 4-minute PB!  Says more about my utterly pants previous PB than anything, but I always like a PB!

Brian - I like a bit of Old Speckled Hen, although I'm sure it's got a bit weaker in recent years.  Anyway, starting Friday evening and up to Sunday afternoon... 1x Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, 1x St Stefanus Blonde, 1x La Chouffe, 3x Maredsous 8, 3x Fuller's ESB, 1x Adnams Southwold, 1x Fuller's London Pride and 1x Red-somethingorother.  No red wine though - everything in moderation!  Think I'll dry out till next weekend.

Oh, anyone doing the Chichester Priory 10k in Feb? I've just signed up.  Now there's a quality field!

As you quite rightly state - quality field!

23/10/2012 at 10:51

PP - 4mins ! nice, mine would be similar I've beaten my 64:XX PB lots of times except in a 10M race.

I'm in Chichester too, so the quality level will have some balance to it !

23/10/2012 at 11:40

Njord - thanks for that, very useful. I am slightly worried about the navigation - do you get a route description, or just a map? I was thinking of just trying to follow someone for the first 20M, and that might make me pace myself better as well - is that likely to be feasible? Other option is trying to work out if I can upload the route (which CW kindly provided last year) onto the Garmin.

I'm not too bothered about position etc. I'm only doing it because I wanted to do it last year, couldn't do it in the end and they let me defer my place. The main target is to finish without getting injured so that I can get on with IM training afterwards! And to enjoy it....

23/10/2012 at 12:11

PP -- stonking 10M. That's a hell of a field to have a significant number in front of you when you did 56 min! (I'm doing a much lower-key 10M this Sun.)

Padams -- I did the C2C in 2010 and it was the first time I'd prepared a track to follow on my Garmin, and was terribly grateful for it. The maps provided were on shiny paper which I thought was water-resistant -- big mistake -- I should have put them inside something, as they disintegrated fast. But following the wiggly line on the Garmin worked so well it didn't matter, and I would never ever try and race following a map again -- I'd always pre-plot it for the watch. (Just carrying maps as a back-up, e.g. if I had to drop out or got confused.)

I shared my route with Njord and others and we all used it. The files are still on (search for "Garmin course files", near the bottom in table of race results). However, the 2012 route might well be different, so check first, and maybe get a 2011 trace from Njord or someone else. I went a bit wrong when switching canals in 2010, so watch out for that in my recorded route! is excellent for plotting and revising Garmin tracks (you can see the OS map and aerial view simultaneously, though they can get a bit out of register -- trust the aerial). You need to practice following a plotted route in training.

5.3M to work today including 2M at 5:52/M (2.4 kg rucksack) -- I've started another "active taper" for my 10M race on Sun, so I won't do a big mid-week run this week.

23/10/2012 at 12:16

Incidentally, I've also used a Garmin pre-plot in a couple of races and been grateful for it when marshalling wasn't quite as thorough as it could have been -- including a XC where the leader guessed wrongly and ended up in 3rd behind me! And if I'm going on business or staying with friends I can do a rough route to follow and then run like a native somewhere I've never been before. It really works well; you can run full tilt knowing that you'll never get more than a few tens of metres off course before you notice there's a problem at least. Screenshots on this page:

23/10/2012 at 14:20

Cheers Padams. That sounds pretty much ideal for what I want then.

Haha. You're welcome LS21. What did you think of them?

Nice target with the back to back sub-3s Njord!

23/10/2012 at 14:31

Padams - I've had some success at ultras over the years, and back to back long runs are usually the way forward.  Key is to drop the pace but increase the time on feet, so you're not trashing yourself and you will recover easily within 12-24 hours.

One of my favourite runs which I've been doing a few times a year for the the past decade, is to get the train to somewhere 30-35 miles away and run home.  Means that you can't take shortcuts or bail out.  Easier on the mind than going door to door.

In recent years I've done a couple of two day out & back races.  2 x 40 miles and 2 x 33 miles.  On both I went as hard as possible on Day 1.  But on Day 2, due to the inevitable soreness/tightness I started out more steadily and eased into it.  On both occasions I ended up running quicker than on Day 1.  Moral of the story being that in an ultra, the majority go off like the clappers and tire, but the successful tend to start slow and build up.  If you treat your training the same way you won't go wrong.

23/10/2012 at 15:45


23/10/2012 at 15:56

Padams - you could certainly follow someone until Denham (22 miles), and navigation is very straightforward after there.  In 2010 this was precisely what I did - following the eventual winner (aforementioned Mr Stewart) who stopped every mile or so for 30 seconds to check maps, thereby allowing me to catch him up.  At 22 miles, he no longer needed to navigate and ended up beating me by 15 minutes or so! 

The course hasn't changed in the three years I've run it (in 2009, I think there was a diversion off the grand union canal), but bizarrely I haven't managed to run the same route twice, having made at least a couple of minor navigation errors each year (only costing me 400 metres or so each time - largely thanks to Charlie's great work with the pre-loaded route).  I'm more than happy to send you the route I ran this year, which I think is pretty damned close to the 'proper' route (just a couple of minor error - one at 3 miles, and another at Latimer).

23/10/2012 at 16:03

Meh.  I already have the maximum number of spammers on 'ignore'.  Out, damn Spam.

23/10/2012 at 16:26 if we need any more proof that Nike's trainer design department are taking some reaally baaaad drugs at the moment.  Jesus Christ!!

23/10/2012 at 17:00
The removal of the spammer's post means I've now managed to inadvertently insult two of the Fred's elder statesmen in one day.

23/10/2012 at 17:10
I wouldn't worry mate, I've been called worse.

By you actually!
23/10/2012 at 17:33
LS21- it's all in the execution ! Great job mate
23/10/2012 at 17:54

Well executed LS21 and Ode, MTR likes to run similarly too (when he's fit instead of fat !)

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