The Marathon Experience
With the Melbourne Marathon just a few weeks away, we sat down with one of our physios Matt to discuss his experiences as an amateur runner.
When did you complete the marathon?
How did your training go?
Well enough, but not great. I was playing football at the time, so I couldn’t put in the time to get the necessary k’s under the belt. I remember trying to get in runs on Sunday after a game and Wednesdays between footy training sessions and being exceedingly sore! We finished in mid-August and then I started with the longer runs once per week. But I had to up the ante quite quickly with my volume, which certainly wasn’t ideal. I did take the time to create a spreadsheet with all of my sessions, which I definitely recommend as it helps to manage the sessions more effectively.
What was the farthest you ran in preparation? How did you structure your training?
I ran 32k two weeks before tapering off. This was about 3 hours of running. The majority of my training was around the boulevard in Kew (I am obviously a glutton for punishment!) I would complete one speed session (intervals/fartlek), an easy 10k and the long run every week with at least a day in between runs. I would supplement my cardiovascular training with some swimming and spin class. I also maintained some basic weight training sessions twice per week mainly to maintain some strength through the hips and legs. I used a GPS watch which was essential, as it paced me through runs and I could easily manage my workouts and volume.
Would you change anything about you training and preparation?
I would definitely avoid playing organised sport from July, as this meant I couldn’t have the length of preparation I would have liked. Football helped with the cardiovascular fitness, but didn’t help with volume. The volume is the thing that was always going to be difficult as it was my first marathon and I had never run over 15k previously. A longer prep would mean smaller incremental increases in volume which would minimise injury risk. I would also recommend dropping as much weight as possible before you start longer training. I was 94 kg for the start of my training and this certainly didn’t help!
How did the race go?
The race itself was really fun for the most part. It is an early start, so I was at the course at 7am. I actually cruised through the majority of the run, but after 34kms I ‘hit the wall’ and struggled the rest of the way! I always presumed ‘the wall’ was more mental, but the reality was that my body was shutting down as I just didn’t have any fuel left. I had some significant cramping and had to stop every 200m for a few ks. The crowd was amazing though, and they were very encouraging, as were the fellow competitors. That camaraderie was very special and definitely helped me finish. The final 300ms is around the MCG, but I didn’t really take it in as I was in the hurt locker!
What was the feeling like crossing the line?
The immediate feeling was relief, as I just wanted to stop running! But after a few seconds I felt really good and as though I had accomplished a goal. I had a chat to the family and started to get some food/fluids in. I remember seeing a guy who I knew roll over the line looking like he finished a 5k but he had just run the full marathon. It annoyed me because he hadn’t even trained! He decided he would do it on the Wednesday before, and he had a massive grin on his face. That irritates me to this day!
Would you change anything about the race?
I would have eaten more beforehand and during. I was lax in my research and didn’t realise how many calories you would need to consume over the course of the race, and ended up having less than a third of the required amount. I was disciplined with my pace up until 32k. But there is a false downhill on St Kilda road which made me feel really good and I thought ‘if I go a little faster, I will really smash my desired time’. This was a big mistake and lead to my subsequent encounter with the dreaded ‘wall’. I would have also studied the course more closely, as parts of the last 10k are slightly confusing.
How did you recover?
Pretty poorly. I basically ate as much as I could afterwards, but should have done some walking in the ocean or pool. I also would do some stretching afterwards. I ended up doing some boxing the next day which was also stupid! Long term, I ended up having some severe right hip impingement because of the run volume. Unfortunately this is still an issue today!
Any advice for people completing the race in a few weeks?
A few things will help you greatly:
-Eat and drink more
-stick to your pace, no matter how good you feel
-Know the course
-Really soak in the atmosphere
-Plan your recovery
-Enjoy the day!