Thursday, 14 November 2013

Post Frankfurt Marathon Notes & Thoughts

Now the dust has settled from the race in Germany, I've put together a bunch of extra thoughts & notes on the pre/during/post race stages. There's also some more photos (taken by my very talented support crew of one, Jason Rheinberg!) 
Frankfurt in the autumn

The old part of town
Pre race nutrition
I switched to a low carb/high fat diet from Monday before to Thursday evening to bring my weight down abit, and off-set for the low running volume in the last week (144 down to 140.5lb). It was then normal carb intake from Thursday evening through Friday and then one-day carb load on Saturday. This was based on 10-11g carbohydrate per kg body weight, so around 650g in total. Carb load food consisted of;
  • Banana/porridge & honey/rye toast & jam/OJ for breakfast. 
  • 750ml of torq energy drink/mule bar mid morning. 
  • Sweet potato soup/rye toast/1xBeet it Sport for lunch. 
  • 750ml torq energy drink in the afternoon. 
  • Chicken/butternut squash/courgette/mushrooms/Green peppers/onion/brown rice for dinner (plus a small glass of champagne, celebrating our friends new baby!). 
Race morning started at 6:15, the weigh-in (post abulations) revealed the carb-load had added a few pounds, up to 146lbs from 141.5 on Saturday morning (likely due to all the extra fluid retained to store the glycogen in my muscles/liver - 3g of water for every 1g of carbs). Breakfast consisted of a small banana, a small bowl of porridge with honey and a double expresso black coffee. 1 double expresso gel shot gel 1 hour pre race and a citrus Clif gel 10 mins before the start. I also drank most of a bottle of lucozade sport before the start, but stopped drinking 1 hour pre-start (and made use of the start line portaloos!)

Race strategy

The plan was to keep the pace between 5:45 and 5:55 per mile, while monitoring my heart rate to keep it below marathon HR (165bpm). I'd estimated that somewhere around 2:32 pace would likely be achievable, so was aiming for 18:00/5k. As I said in my race report, the pace was difficult to track in the first 5k due to tall buildings, my heart rate was averaging a bit too high (~168bpm) and as a result I clocked a 17:38 for the first 5k. From 5k to 25k I ran to heart rate, sticking with a good sized group and trying not to work too hard into the wind and rain. From 25k onwards the wind & rain became less of an issue. Going down wind from 30-35k and with plenty of energy in reserve allowed me to put the hammer down and put in a 17:30 5k. The negative split was a bit of an accident really, but having done it I can see the benefit of controlling the effort in the first half and then pushing on in the second half. Physiologically it was great reeling in so many people on the run back into the city centre!
A normal sight on a early Sunday the African rift valley
The Race Leaders

Race nutrition
I umm'd and err'd about the gel strategy, at London there is lots of flexibility with a water station every mile, but at Frankfurt they are more widely spaced. I don't get an gastric issues with gels, so aim for the optimal 75g of carbs per hour that the body can digest. In the end I opted for a gel every 5k up to 35k and then an optional one for around 37.5k. I took all 8 in the end, although I'm not sure the final one (at around 37/38k) was really worth taking. Only took sips of water to lubricate the gels & wash my mouth out. I was using a combination of GU Roctane (caffeinated) and Clif Shot Razz (non-caffeinated) gels

Gel Plan & Water Stations -  splits based on 2h32'
(21/24g of carb per Roctane/Clif gel - aiming for approx 75g/hour (recommended caffeine intake of 3mg/kg body weight  = 195mg max  recommended limit of 390mg)

  • One hour pre start - GEL Clif Double Expresso (24g/100mg)
  • Hour 1
    • 10mins pre Start - GEL Clif Citrus (24g/25mg)
    • 5k (3.1M) - 00:18:00 - GEL Clif Razz (24g/0mg)
    • 10k (6.2M) - 00:36:01 -  GEL GU Roctane (21g/35mg)
    • 12.5k (7.8M) - 00:45:00 
    • 15k (9.3M) - 00:54:02 - GEL GU Roctane (21g/35mg
  • Hour 2
    • 17.5k (10.9M) - 01:03:00
    • 20k (12.4M) - 01:12:02- GEL Clif Razz (24g/0mg)
    • 22.5k (14M) - 01:21:00 
    • 25k (15.5M) - 01:30:03 - GEL GU Roctane (21g/35mg)
    • 27.5k (17M) - 01:39:00
    • 30k (18.6M) - 01:48:03 - GEL GU Roctane (21g/35mg)
    • 32.5k (20.2M) - 01:57:00
  • Hour 3
    • 35k (21.75M) - 02:06:04  - GEL GU Roctane (21g/35mg)
    • 37.5k (23.3M) - 02:15:00 - GEL Clif Razz (24g/0mg)
    • 40k (24.9M) - 02:24:05

Race Recovery
My legs have been radically different post Frankfurt compared to previous PB marathons. After the last two London marathons (2012 & 2013), my legs have suffered from serious muscle fatigue for a good week or more, my legs were also very painful in the last 6-8 miles of both races (lots of damage being done!). This wasn't the case during or after Frankfurt, my legs were pretty much pain free throughout the race and I only had relatively minor delayed onset muscle fatigue (DOMS) for a few days post race. One suggestion I've heard for this is that running a negative split helps, conserving energy in the first half of the race (and limiting muscle damage), which allows you to push harder in the second half. I guess it would maybe be due to the overall duration at a set effort level being lower (one half lower effort than the other instead of 2.5 hrs continuous)? The week straight after the race, I took it easy and only ran twice, but surprised myself on both occasions with how easy and quick my runing was! So now I have been back into typical running for nearly two weeks and things generally feel good, although I think I may find out at the Gosport Half this weekend that my legs still have a bit of the marathon in them!
Made the killer mistake of sitting down post how do I get up?

Training Plan/execution recap & thoughts
Due to a niggling issue with my left shin (which never caused me any running pain) I had regular physio sessions during the training period. The upside of this was that, in the course of investigating the shin, I ended up finding quite a few muscle imbalances/weaknesses which could be worked. So I was doing regular (1-2 times a week) core/stretching sessions and got into the habit of doing dynamic stretches pre-run (my glutes and hip flexors in particular) and stretching post-run too. I also did a couple of running form tune-up sessions with The Running School in Southampton, which nicely served to jog my muscle memory and also helped identify tight/weak muscle groups to work on.

In general the marathon specific training went ok, the preceding 'speed' phase hadn't gone very well, possibly partly due to the hot summer lingering right to the end of August. My half marathon PB attempt at Maidenhead at the start of September was a bit of a flop and I only managed 1:14:43 (30s outside PB from Wokingham in Feb). The first couple of marathon specific sessions (copied from the previous spring training plan from Bournemouth AC) didn't go very well either, the first one was very warm and the second was very windy! The breakthrough came at the New Forest Marathon, which I ran as a target MP +20s training run. Probably did this a little fast as it then took about 10 days to recover from before I was ready for the next hard session. But i feel that the marathon distance in training did me good, so I'll aim to do this again for London 2014, just a little slower, relative to MP, next time. The other key run was the "marathon special block" a Renato Canova (coach to the Kenyan elites) workout. Basically 6M steady followed by 6M marathon effort, twice in a day (and a few more miles to get home in each case!), when that went to plan I was much more confident of being able to hit a decent PB in Germany....
Below is a summary of the key sessions I did in the last 6-7wks before Frankfurt

Marathon Specific Phase Key Sessions & Mileage
  • 6 weeks out - Total Mileage = 69
    • Thurs AM Specific Extensive Endurance 5M Easy/4x3M@6:14/5:55/6:55/6:15 (1M rec @ 6:47/6:51/6:40) Total 21M@6:35M- hot on the prom even at 7am!
  • 5 weeks out - Total Mileage = 81.3
    • Tues PM 24'@5:58/M-(3')/18'@5:59/M(3')/12'@6:01/M(3')/6'@5:59/M(2')/3'@5:37/M Total 15.8M @ 6:25/M (windy solo prom run) 
    • Sun AM Long even continuous paced run - NFR Marathon (tMP +20-30' 6:10-6:20) - 02:41:37 (6:09/M) 1st place overall
  • 4 weeks out -  Total Mileage = 70.1
    • Sun AM 18M @ 6:45/M inc 2x0.5M (6:01/M & 5:54/M)/ 1M (5:36/M)/0.5M (5:34/M) and 4M progressivre (6:44-5:55/M)
  • 3 weeks out - Total Mileage =81.5
    • Tues PM 30' av.5:53/M(rec 3')/4x5'av.5:39/M(rec 2')/(rec 3')/30' av.6:02/M total 18.3M 6:18/M (windy solo prom run)
    • Sun AM 5M Easy/15M MP effort (av 6:00/M)/3M Easy Total 23M @ 6:24/M
  • 2 weeks out - Total Mileage =83
    • Weds Special MP Block 
      • AM 6M(6:34/M)/6M(5:48/M)/2.75M(6:40/M)  
      • PM 6M(6:28/M)/6M(5:47//M)/3.3M(6:45/M)
    • Sun AM 3.7M(6:56/M)/MP Rhythm - Solent Half(1:15:34-5:46/M)/1.6M (7:32/M)
  • 1 week out (Taper) - Total Mileage = 50
    • Tues PM 1.7M / 5x5min(rec3") av 5:16/M / 2M Total 10.2M@6:36/M
    • Sat AM 2M inc strides(6:38/M)/Poole Parkrun (16:59 5:27/M)/1.6M(7:22/M) & 21M Bike (av 14.2mph) - by accident, missed the train home!
    • Sun PM Medium Pace Progressive Run 12.1M inc 11M progressive (6:45/6:35/6:28/6:33/6:19/6:12/6:05/5:56/5:48/5:53/5:52/7:09) Av6:19/M

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