Monday, 8 February 2010

Thoughts on running and training for an IM marathon

The standard question for those starting out and to some extent those experienced IMers it would seem is:

How fast should my IM mara be if I can do a standalone mara in X?

So how fast can you run and how fast should you run? A straw poll of tripetalk/slowbitch suggests about 30 mins add on is not unreasonable. Those with a faster standalone marathon time e.g.sub 3 may see less slippage whilst those with slower times may see more. Alan Couzens has written extensively on this topic and gives a lot of science behind this topic but still I some times find it hard to find the "take home message" in what he writes.

After 5 IM races I have a few thoughts on pacing IM marathons based on personal experience and observation. Sure I am pretty MOP but my performances are consistent with my training. Here are a few rules as I see it!

1. The stronger you bike fitness the faster you can run. The secret is holding back some of that speed on the bike in the race- which for most of us is nigh on impossible! I still find it hard to believe that if I finished my bike leg 5 mins slower it would have any other impact on my IM time than to make it 5 mins slower!

2. I train by doing all my runs at IM pace and almost none faster. I am older (42) and prone to running injuries. I find that by running at IM pace the fatigue of the rest of my training and life makes this plenty fast enough thankyou. Toying with speed sets incurs risk of energy and for what benefit. The only speedwork I might do is a HM or 10Km race. I would love to do more hill running as I think this is a great source of running strength but hackney is very flat! Having said that my best IM marathon has yet to happen!

3. You gotta get your calories right on the bike. I judge my bike speed by feel and the need to get the calories in. For a 5 hour bike I use 1 litre energy drink for first 45 mins then 12 gels 3 energy bars and water for the rest. If I am doing it right the food all goes down and stays down and I may be able to stick in that little bit extra calories in the last 10 mins of the bike (also helps to keep focus). If I start feeling sick, hot sweaty unwell whatever I tend to slow a bit and drink water until the feeling passes. In effect this means I keep my HR below 140-145as I know that when my HR exceeds this I cannot effectively digest food.

4. Setting out on the run I always feel crap with my HR jumping all over the place, by back is stiff and I cant get straight and any leg worries I have will be there! In spite of this MY FIRST 10 KM IS ALWAYS MY FASTEST! I use this knowledge in two ways now. Firstly I no longer worry about feeling slow so dont try and chase any athletes pushing past and secondly I settle on trying to find a comfortable rhythm before working out what I can eat and when.

5. Eating on the Run- Experience has taught me that the coke will be fizzy, the drink at IMCH gives me cramps, the cup will split and I will throw most of it up my nose, but the gels are usually reliable and predictable. I now carry six gels for the first 2 hrs. I try and eat a gel every 20 mins just before a feed station and follow this with water. I try and work out where and what gels are on offer and then plan my restocking when I am on my last gel (they do run out sometimes). Again this gives me a focus e.g. concentrate on timing of gel before aid station etc but also avoids the vagaries of cups of variably mixed "EZO" or whatever 'nergy drink.

6. When I am feeling good eat... a common mantra but a true one. So when I felt good at 15 km in IMCH I ate 3 gel in 30 odd minutes which carried me on to the last 10km (at which point I lost my discipline or reached the envelope of my fitnees) where I suffered for not eating and thinking I could start racing!

7. Hilly rides take longer and have a negative impact on your run split. Stands to reason that if you are cylcing for an extra 45 minutes at the same power output you are likely to run slower afterwards. I also prefer more temperate race conditions and have struggled in the heat (either that or the reason for performing slower in Lanzarote is that I have not been as fit!)


Jevon said...

Wise words Yoda.

fabio said...

I live between victoria park and london fields... I'm training for IMCH , if u want we can train together sometimes. if u have twittter u can follow me @triemo.

Running Diva Mom said...

just found your blog -- looking forward to following your journey! Keep it up!