Last Sunday I was due to be running my 11th marathon in Manchester. From the title of this blog, I am sure you can guess that I did not run the race.
Those who read my MANCHESTER MARATHON HOPES & DREAMS blog from the other week would know that I was pretty indecisive on what my strategy was going to be.
When I originally signed up for Manchester, this was the only marathon, in fact, the only race I had on the 2019 plan. I knew the course was fairly flat and fast which would give me a good chance of beating my PR at the time of 3:35. The goal back then was to hit Manchester hard, try to beat that PR and close the gap on the 3:05 BQ time.
Between signing up and race day I did what all us runners do. Booked loads more races. Including the 2018 Chicago and New York City Marathons, the 2019 Tokyo Marathon and Ironman 70.3 Mallorca (plus a bunch of others after IM Mallorca, but they aren’t relevant here).
I targetting that marathon PR in Chicago, aiming for a 3:20 but got calf cramp at half way and as a result slowed, finishing in 3:40. PR fail. I had a second bash at the PR on the more hilly and traditionally slower New York City marathon course, coming home with a 3:17 PR.
Next up was Tokyo (4 weeks before Manchester), here I went into the race not really planning to run fast knowing that Jetlag, the long flight and different food could be a factor. The day before and morning of race day I felt ill, the weather was cold, windy and wet. Not Boston 2018, but it wasn’t pleasant running conditions. I ran a 3:01 PR and BQ time!
So with the time I ran in Tokyo, I had hit my goal of running a PR, taking 34 minutes off what was my PR when I signed up for Manchester. Crazily, 39 minutes faster than I ran in Chicago 4 months earlier!
I had achieved what I thought I would never do in running a BQ time, giving myself a 3:51 buffer on my age group. Whether that is good enough to get me into the 2020 race is another matter.
That got me thinking, do I really need to run another marathon right now? I have Ironman 70.3 Mallorca 5 weeks after Manchester, I ran Tokyo 4 weeks ago. Do I need to put my body through the stresses and strains of running 26.2 miles, even at an “easy pace” the fatigue will still be felt in the weeks after.
In fact, its not just the effect of the race that could impact the Mallorca 70.3, there is the two weeks of tapering before the marathon and the recovery week afterward. That is 3 weeks of Ironman training affected by this one race that I don’t really need to run.
I made my decision to not run on the Friday before the race. The first week of taper would have been an Easy Week on the triathlon training plan, so I hadn’t really missed out on much there. The second week should have been a Medium Week so I changed my plan and ramped the training back up on that Friday, Saturday & Sunday to bring me back in line with the plan. Then what would have been marathon recovery week is now a Hard Week of 14+ hours high-intensity triathlon training. It is time to focus on my next goal, the goal of massively improving my 70.3 finish time and Age Group finishing position. All running goals have been hit in the first 3 months of the year. Now I have triathlon goals to hit.
I have to admit though, during that mini taper, when the legs were feeling good and the body well rested. I did consider going all in and attempting to run a sub 3 to improve my chances of getting into Boston. I considered running at a steady pace to finish in 3:25 which would have been a UK marathon PR for me, I considered running with the 3:30 pacers Dan & Harry or taking it even easier and running with my mate Paul who was pacing the 4-hour fun bus. All options adding more miles to the legs and more fatigue to the body.
Yes, the triathlon training is no doubt adding more fatigue than the marathon would have done, but I will get more out of these specific workouts than one big 26.2-mile run.
Having made the call to miss the race and focus on Ironman 70.3 Mallorca, the pressure is now on to go and deliver, make sure that I haven’t wasted the opportunity of running Manchester.