After managing to run a pb of 2:45:35 at Manchester marathon in April, I went into the training block for the Amsterdam Marathon without any real pressure other than to build on Manchester and enjoy the training and race itself. I was high on confidence and was keen to keep the momentum going.
My target was to go quicker than Manchester and smash another pb. I was confident I could run a low 2:40s marathon so I set myself a target time of around 2:42 which would mean I would have to knock over 3 minutes off my current time of 2:45.
Summer training begins
I started my marathon training first week in July which would give me a 13 week block going into the race on the 15th October. I enjoy marathon training during the summer, the warmer climates, the lighter mornings and evenings, it really is my favourite time of year to run!
For the first few weeks it was just a case of easing back into things and slowly increasing the volume and intensity. I managed to bank some solid marathon paced sessions during this time. I am strong believer that the majority of your training sessions should be at target marathon pace, which for me was 6:10 per mile. Your body needs to get comfortable training at this pace, so it doesn’t feel like such a shock come race day.
As the weeks progressed, the aerobic endurance continued to get stronger and I was starting to feel sharp. I was regularly running 20 milers at the weekend with some marathon pace miles incorporated into these runs.
Summer XC racing & going long!
I was also racing in a summer cross country series which were great training runs, these kind of races really do help to build leg strength and fitness. The weekend before I started my training I managed to run 33:59 at a local 10k race which was a huge confidence boost and the first time I had ever run under 34 minutes for a 10k.
I was consistently running 70 mile weeks and the body was feeling strong with no niggles. A typical week consisted of a hard marathon pace session Wednesday (around 10-12 miles in volume), then a 20+ mile run at the weekend, with all others runs just easy pace. This is a formula that works for me.
Pre-marathon target race
I decided to book Battersea Park Half Marathon as my pre marathon tune up race, this was 4 weeks out from race day so was perfect in terms going for a fast time and having enough time to recover. It turned out to be a tough race. It was already 20 degrees at the start, and was a lapped course, meaning you were constantly overtaking other runners which meant it was pretty congested in places. I fell short of my target here and didn’t manage to get a pb which I was disappointed with, but considering the heat and race conditions it was still a really solid workout so I knew it would only benefit me going into Amsterdam.
Amsterdam touch down
I flew into Amsterdam on the Friday so had a few days to chill out before the big day! I headed to the expo as soon as I arrived to pick up my race number. I had a few friends over there with me doing the marathon and we decided to head to the local Parkrun Saturday morning and run it as a pre-marathon shakeout. It was a such a beautiful course which took in some trails along a lake and the atmosphere was amazing with so many marathon runners buzzing in anticipation of the following day.
3 months of grind comes down to this
So despite a less than ideal build up, the race got underway. The first 5k went by with no dramas, I managed to get away and get into a nice rhythm early on, settling into marathon pace and feeling pretty comfortable. Things continued in this vain and I was running in a nice little pack and the miles were flying by. I was taking gels every 30 minutes and the body was feeling good. I went through halfway in 1:21:44 which was bang on target time. The toughest part of the race followed this, there was a section around a big lake which was into a headwind and heavy rain which lasted for around 3 miles. I just tried to stay focused and not drop pace too much, luckily I was in a little group of runners so we were able to work together and share the load.
Pure euphoria and emotion!
The feeling when I came into the Olympic stadium with 400 metres to go was one of euphoria! I crossed the finish line in 2:42:09 for a massive new pb. Finishing a marathon really is an emotional experience, I was overcome with joy and I was a little emotional realising the time I had just ran. I had executed the race perfectly and achieved a lifetime ambition of a sub 2:45 marathon!
So the big question is where do I go from here in my marathon journey? I have been accepted into Boston marathon in 2024 which is very exciting and that will complete my 3rd marathon major. I think it would be rude not to target a sub 2:40 for this! Keep pushing and embrace the grind as you never know where it might take you.