Expert: Miss Joe Joe Fan, Hong Kong Marathon Team Representative
I like to start my marathon training with a time goal in mind, not an ambitious one, but an inspiring and motivated target. To be realistic I usually fine tune my goal a few days before race day according to my fitness and weather on the day.
I still get excited standing at the start line and I trust I am not alone in this. Adrenaline rushes through your body and the roar of the crowd alters your senses, especially, if you are running the Standard Chartered Marathon. The first 1.5K is slightly downhill so it’s easy to be affected by runners behind and find you are
running 5-10s faster than targeted race pace.
Marathon is an endurance run with 42.195K to conquer. Setting off faster than your lactate threshold and accumulating lactate acid too early will fatigue your muscle for sure. Heavy legs or muscle cramp will make you feel your legs are rooted to the ground and you will overuse your body to finish the run, mentally and psychology attacking your confidence to run the next one.
There are quite a few marathon strategies around but there are three that I have observed most people seem to use.
1) Running comfortably all the way and when finished just feel like you could start another marathon immediately. This strategy is not for those who would like to achieve a personal best time.
2) Run even splits throughout the race and push your best for the last few kilometers
3) Run slightly slower half way then gradually accelerate and blast for the last 10K.
Personally, I find option two the most efficient fit to my aerobic system and most efficient at consuming my energy levels. After half way, you still need to put a slightly stronger effort to maintain the same speed and feel like racing a 5K for the last few kilometers.
Some runners track their heart-rate with a monitor or rely on a pace-maker. SCM doesn’t have pace-makers and I don’t like the heart rate belt tightening around my chest which mentally affects my breathing. So, I have learnt to listen to my breathing and pay attention to my running form. I check split times only when I feel running too quick or too slow. It’s useful especially running up Stonecutters Bridge and
through the Western Harbour tunnel as my speed slows down while my breathing tells me I am using the same effort to overcome them.
Keep it in mind, never start too fast and hold your pace to 30K. Try to relax if the conditions (weather, your fitness, etc) are not as you expected. You can always pick up your pace for the last few kilometers crossing the line with strong finish. Champion runners always run inside the leading pack to take advantage of the group air-stream then break through the group in the last few kilometers. You might find
it very useful especially on a windy day