I ran Manchester Marathon on April 7th 2019. It was my first time running the race and my first time in Manchester! Here’s how it went for me and a few thing I learnt that may save your next race.
My race target for Manchester Marathon:
I was hoping to go big at Manchester Marathon and set myself a high bar of running 3:10-3:20 anywhere in that bracket and I would have been delighted. Having set a half marathon PB in this training block of 1:28 I’m fairly confident that these goals are absolutely within my capabilities.
Plan B was to try and sneak in under my PB of 3:28 from NYC Marathon in 2017.
How was it for me?
Safe to say that I learnt a few things about myself at Manchester and there are some tweaks to make if I want to hit my goals!
I felt like I was in great form turning up on the start line but there are so many things that can effect your race and not all of them are directly related to your training efforts.
5 Things I learnt at Manchester Marathon:
- Don’t drink too much water before the race.
This might be okay for shorter races like a 10k or possibly a half marathon, but by Mile 16 I was DESPERATE to pee and felt very uncomfortable about it. It had a significant impact and made me stop temporarily, then I found it hard to get going again. I drank over 1L of water on race morning and that’s just not necessary! I didn’t do it in training so I shouldn’t have done it on race morning.
- Stick to your nutrition plan.
I had planned to start fuelling early on, but I decided when running that I felt great and didn’t need anything. WOW that is a basic error and it cost me. My legs felt fine at 18 miles but my body had next to no energy at all! I look at the race now and know I should have started on the gels much sooner than I did. Depending on the brand of gels I would normally take one every 30-45 minutes so make sure you start early if you are running a marathon any time soon!
- Play the long game
With a half marathon you can get away with setting off a little too fast and it being ok with some adjustments later on in the race. With a marathon you just can’t. Unfortunately I got carried away with some of the runners around me on race day and started measuring myself based on how they were running. Sometimes its harder than you think to channel out all of those other runners. A good solution to this problem is starting further back in the field of runners and to try and run with a group that are slightly slower than your target so you can feel great about constantly overtaking people, but by comfortably sticking to your race pace plan.
- GPS isn’t always accurate
Unfortunately sometimes your watch can come up a tiny bit short on a mile and when you thought you were running a 7:15 mile it actually was a 7:25. It’s ok if this happens once or twice but if it’s consistent that 10-15 seconds per mile can add up to 5 minutes or more over a marathon. To avoid disappointment on your PB goals you can either take note of the split times you need to hit and manually check every mile, or you can use the manual lap function that almost every watch will have that can tell you each mile time more accurately than relying on the automatic update. At Manchester my strava data suggests I was running some 7:00/miles but I know that several of those were consistently around 10 seconds off the mile markers. This could be down to weaving through people of taking the outside line at some of the busy bends, so not always the watches fault. There are however some ways to alter the settings to get a more accurate reading so I will try that for the next race.
- Manchester is awesome
Despite my race crumbling apart at mile 18 due to bad nutrition, questionable pacing and over drinking I REALLY enjoyed this race. I loved Manchester Marathon more than I thought I would and I’d 100% love to do it again someday. It’s perfect for a PB as it’s one of the flattest routes in Europe to race at. Plus the participation went up by 50% this year which is impressive, but the event ran super smoothly and everything was easy to find and well communicated by the organisers. If you are going to run a marathon outside of a World Marathon Major, make it Manchester Marathon if you want flat and fast.
So what’s next?
I finished this race in 3:38. Mostly beaming from a fun race but slightly disappointed it didn’t go to plan. I’m more knowledgeable than I was before with a renewed focus on what it might take to get it right on race day.
I run London Marathon next just 3 weeks after this race so I will look at this as a training run and try and hit the 3:20 goal there instead.
Good luck with your marathon running goals and I hope this helps you out.
I’d love to know if you have any other useful tips or advice relating to the above that I can take on and share with the world, just reach out to me on instagram if you do!