When does a marathon hurt?

The short answer is a marathon will hurt at some stage between the start and the finish. The long answer is difficult to quantify, it will be determined by how committed you were to training and how ambitious you’ve run the race to this point.

If you’ve trained well and run your race at a consistent pace then the marathon will hurt somewhere between half way and 35km. If you haven’t done the training or run too quick early then this point may arrive somewhat earlier then you like or expect. Ultimately at some point during a marathon you’ll hurt and you’ll be asked some questions of yourself.

How you respond to these questions ultimately determines the outcome of your race.

If you run your marathon smartly or strategically you’ll have run a consistent pace throughout, the effect of this will mean running will be relatively comfortable for the first half of the race before the effort required to maintain this consistent pace becomes more difficult. The elastic band gets tighter as the race unfolds, with the goal being for the hypothetical elastic band breaks.

How do you do this?

Know when the marathon is going to hurt.

There is no an exact science as every race is different and every run can unfold differently. But knowing your ability and being smart about goals and execution will help.

  • Understand the pace you can run. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, but also don’t be too conservative and leave time on the course.
  • Run the race consistently – Running too fast early is a recipe for disaster
  • When the elastic tightens – Be ready to give your best effort


Know your Pace

Knowing your best race pace is difficult. We all want to run personal bests and improve our race times. A couple of marathon specific training sessions you can run to test your marathon ready fitness are;

  • 3 x 14km with 30 min rest between each. Run each effort at marathon goal pace. If you can hold this pace for each of the efforts then you can run this pace in a marathon. The third effort should feel hard and simulate the end of the marathon.
  • 5 x 5km with 5 min stationery or 1km jog rest between each. Run each effort at goal marathon goal pace. Another session where the difficulty becomes harder as the run increases. Again, the final effort should feel difficult but not too hard.

These session should be run no closer than three weeks before the marathon. Particularly the 3 x 14km as it is a tough session and has 42km of running within it.


Run the race consistently

Running consistent pace throughout your marathon is the best way to maximise the time before the marathon begins to bite back. If you run too fast you’ll suffer in the back end, if you run too slow you’ll give yourself too much deficit to make up when things get tougher and also risk leaving time on the course.

The best marathoners in the world use this method when they attempt to run fast marathons. Eliud Kipchoge in berlin last year is a perfect example of this method of marathon running.


Be ready to give your best

When the marathon hurts and the elastic begins to tighten be ready. And be ready mentally to give your best effort. If you’ve done the training and ran the race consistently to this point then you’ve given yourself the best chance to succeed.

This point in the marathon is when you need to give everything you have, dig deep and ask yourself why you are doing this in the first place. We all have different motivations to run a marathon and these motivations can be what helps you through when the marathon bites back.

Be ready and be prepared to give everything you’ve got when the moment arrives.

Good luck in your next marathon. Reach out if you have any questions preparing for your next race.

Run well


Does swimming ever get enjoyable?

As a runner returning to triathlon I’ve been asking myself this question recently. Does swimming ever get enjoyable?

This morning I went to my pool session and can’t say I enjoyed it at all. Firstly I thought of some excuses to get out of going but couldn’t find one. In the car on the way to the pool I thought about turning the car around and going home because I wasn’t looking forward to it. Lets face it, for a runner swimming is hard. It’s hard to because it’s a different muscle and skill set to running that currently feels a bit foreign. Hopefully once my fitness for swimming return so will some of the enjoyment.

Can’t say I’m expecting that to happen. This morning I swam 1500 metres, 30 laps of the Olympic pool. I didn’t enjoy any one of these lap, some were easier than others but all were boring and sometimes painful. There were plenty of other people at the pool and some even looked like they were enjoying it, so maybe there is some hope.

One of the things I love about running is the solitude, one of the things I hate about swimming is the solitude. Thats a weird thing to say but very true. I can run for hours by myself and don’t need to see, hear or talk to another person but half an hour in the pool is another story.

Even though I’d been off the bike for a long time I’ve enjoyed getting back on the bike. Obviously it’s a closer skill set and fitness to running which has made it easier to adjust. Returning to the pool has been a different experience.

Clearly if I want to train for triathlon I am going to have to go swimming. It’s a necessary requirement of the sport and one I hope I start to enjoy in the near future.

Do you swim and how do you find it enjoyable?

Plenty of people in the pool enjoying their swim.

Stupid or not?


Is it stupid or not to do an Ironman 70.3 three weeks after your goal marathon? This is the question I have been entertaining in my head in recent weeks as I have been motivated to give triathlon some focus again. It’s been six years since I last competed in an Ironman 70.3 triathlon and maybe it’s time to go back for another crack.

I’ve already committed to running the Canberra Marathon on April 15th as my goal race for the first half the year. Ironman Australia in my home town of Port Macquarie is three weeks later on May 6th where there is a full Ironman and a 70.3 event run concurrently. If I’m going to do a triathlon in 2018 there will likely only be one and it will be this one. So with that said is it stupid? Maybe.

The first problem that enters my head is that I will need to put quite a bit of focus into the bike and swim and will this negatively effect my running? After all the marathon is my number one goal race. My initial thoughts are that the bike and swim may not have too much impact, cycling is going to build my aerobic base, which will only help running and likewise the swim. If I continue to focus on my three key running sessions each week  of long run, intervals and hill repeat then I can use the bike as recovery from running somewhat. Problem solved.

The second problem is the time it takes to train properly for triathlon. The reason I stopped triathlon was because of the time it takes to train. There is no doubt that I will need to limit my training focus somewhat. If I train six days a week once a day I can have 3 x run sessions, 2 x cycling and 1 x swim. If I can fit in a second swim on one of the days then this could be enough. Problem solved.

The third problem is whether it is stupid to do the Ironman 70.3 so soon after a marathon. Ideally I wouldn’t do it and feel that it could deplete my body by competing in both these races as I will want to do my best in both. Between the two races there will need to be emphasis on recovery, running a marathon is tough and recovery is usually underrated. Recovery will need to be prioritised, if it is then maybe it’s not the stupidest idea ever. Problem solved.

With all three of my problem solved I just need to decide whether to commit to both races and enter. Give me a week to decide.

If you feel like trying to convince me if this is stupid or not, leave a comment.