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My Manchester Marathon

by Norman Johnstone - 19:18 on 17 April 2019

On Sunday April the 7th I took part in the Manchester Marathon. This was my 2nd marathon following my first in London 2017 in which I crossed the line with a time of 4 hours and 11 minutes. London as an event was such an amazing experience for me but not particularly a great running experience. Despite having followed a marathon training plan (I think it was one from the London marathon magazine) involving tempo,long,threshold stuff I found myself with severe leg cramps and devoid of energy at mile 20...”hitting the wall”. Having been on to hit my sub 4hr target I had to walk/slow jog the last 6 miles.
Since London and joining ADAC,running has become such a positive part of my life. Big changes in my working life have been stressful but getting out for a run,meeting new people and competing in local races has been a big release from these stresses. I decided upon a new challenge last Autumn and plumped for Manchester marathon.
After some research into training programs I discovered some research by a guy called Dr Phil Maffetone. I could (and have) bore anyone with his approach to training but in short you train at least 80-90% of your miles at Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) heart rate. To find this you start with the figure of 180 and take away your age then add 5 if you have been training for 2 or more years..my magical figure was 135bpm. So, for most of this winter I gradually increased my “MAF “ mileage volume from roughly 30 miles per week peaking at 50-60 mile weeks in February and March. This training approach meant leaving my pace min/mile ego behind as you have to learn to slow down (a lot initially) to stick to the MAF heart rate. This training approach I’ve found has been a lot less strenuous on my body and fortunately I stayed injury free all winter.
I think the most stressful week was the one prior to the race. Avoiding injury and catching a stinking cold off one of my sons seemed very challenging!
On race day itself the conditions were ideal. Cool with a slight breeze. I’d done a lot of thinking and got advice from a few people on race strategy. I’d done so much training using my HR that maybe basing my run on that would be the way to go. The atmosphere at the start of the race was fantastic, my nerves were building but felt relieved just to have got to the start line feeling fit.
I found myself standing next to the 3:29 pacer and having been quietly keeping to myself a 3:30 target, I thought to keep with him for the first mile and then go to my HR strategy would be the way to go.
The pace felt comfortable and my HR monitor started playing up so the decision was taken for a change of plan..”sod it...just follow the 3:29 pacer for as long as I can”. The first 21-22 miles went well. The support around the course was tremendous and seeing my wife and two younger sons cheering me on at various points a real boost. Unfortunately I did start flagging a bit during the last few miles. It’s funny how seeing other people taking a walk break has an effect on you mentally and for all I desperately wanted to push on the temptation to ease off became too much. During the last 4 miles I fell away from my pacer and walked 0.1 mile of each of the last miles.
It still meant crossing the line with a new PB of 3:33:30 and the feeling that I really want to do it again!!
I can thoroughly recommend Manchester Marathon, flat course, well organised and support I felt was close to rivalling London. I also would like to say a massive well done to fellow ADAC runner Gordon Vivers who completed the race in a superb time 3:29:48.
Looking forward now to a few shorter races over the summer ...but another Marathon my wife will be delighted to hear, cannot be ruled out!!

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