DP so disappointed with his Marathon - again

(10 Posts)
Tournament Mon 13-May-13 14:33:55

He's a decent runner, 52, been running about 10 years and has run 11 marathons. Every time, he's looked great at around 18 miles, but by 22 the wheels have some off completely and he's struggled to finish by walking/staggering.

This weekend he was laughing and joking when I saw him at mile 16, at mile 23 he looked ready to cry and in the last 50yds collapsed and literally crawled to the finish. he was hoping for 4 hours, which his training and other race times suggest should be well within his capabilities

His times for other races are 10K 44 mins, HM 1:35. He's followed a structured training problem and practiced his race strategy for hydration and fuel - he took one gel every 45 mins. His pacing at 19 miles was spot on to do just inside 4 hours, so it's not like he went out too fast.

He's really disheartened and saying this was his last attempt, but I know he really wants that 4hours too. So, what did he do wrong and what should he do differently next time, or would you give up too?

sweetkitty Mon 13-May-13 14:41:18

I've just asked my DP who runs marathons for you.

He asked about his diet in the run up to a marathon, is he eating enough and well enough?

He also says his time for 10K and HM are really good so there's something making him hit the wall about mile 18 which is when most people hit it as by then you will have no energy stores left and will be running on sheer will alone. My DP has special music to push him along so he says grin

Does he run a lot of 20 miles plus in his training plan as well?

I'm sure someone else better qualified will be along soon so am going to watch this thread

Snowgirl1 Mon 13-May-13 15:27:22

How frustrating for your DH. Has he ever done a VO2 max test? They are usually quite expensive, but can really help develop a training plan that is exactly geared to their aerobic power is, including how often gels are necessary.

DH has done a VO2 max test a couple of times and one of the things that it identified for him was that his body is not very good at burning fat (ie. when things get anerobic and he is out of carbohydrates the wheels come off).

The guy who did the VO2 max test calculated, based on the grams of carb in a gel and the rate my DH burns carbs, exactly how often DH would need to take a gel when running a marathon. DH has to take a gel every 20 minutes. I think the guy who did the test even predicted roughly when (in miles) DH would run out of carbs and therefore when it would all fall apart. Don't know if the prediction was accurate as DH started taking gels every 20 minutes in his long training runs and when he was running the marathon.

His HM times would predict sub-4 hour marathon times, so it may well be something to do with needing more fuel than a gel every 45 mins is giving him - but I'm no expert!

Tournament Mon 13-May-13 17:28:11

VO2 max test sound interesting, but ATM I don't think he'll want to spend the money, as he's never doing it again!

He eats pretty well IMO, did the carb loading thing in the run up to the ace and is careful to have plenty of protein after a run, for recovery. Maybe likes a beer a little too much to be a serious contender, but not to any extreme.

FredFredGeorge Tue 14-May-13 07:26:08

80-90 calories an hour is way too little, if he can get up to a more normal 250+ then it's possible that enough would be enough to fix it.

Forget carb loading - it mostly just adds weight to lug around, it's okay for a couple of hours but eating more during the event will do a lot more for a 4 hour runner.

It also sounds very much like his structured training plan wasn't appropriate - lots of people pick up a plan focused at the non-runner and extremely conservative which starts off by detraining them from where they are. Find something more appropriate to his fitness levels.

anoldbloke Tue 14-May-13 17:20:06

Hard to say without much more info. His half time suggests he should be doing well under 3:30 with the right plan.

I'd ask about the number of long runs (20 miles) in training, about tapering down in the last 10 days and nutrition.

Can't speak about gels because I've never used them; they're a rather new addition to the sport.

anoldbloke Tue 14-May-13 17:24:44

PS. Is 1:35 his current half time or is that a PB from years ago?

Tournament Wed 15-May-13 15:04:17

Thank you HM PB is from the beginning of this year, as part of his build-up.

He did 3 20+ training runs and tapered for the last 2 weeks.

anold, what do you eat during races if you don't use gels? I'm a (slow) runner too and I can't stand gels, too sweet and I'd rather eat "real" food, but the gels are easy to carry while running....

anoldbloke Wed 15-May-13 15:34:23

T, I did 28 marathons with a PB of 2:30. There's no need to eat anything at that pace, just a bit of water. Paradoxically, you do need food for slower times because the body can only store enough for two hours or so of even-paced effort before going a bit wobbly. In some ways that makes it more difficult for the 4 hour runner than it is for sub 3 hours, who pay his price by investing in more intensive training before the race.

It seems he is doing the right sort of training with a decent HM, but is blowing up in the second half. Maybe some more longer runs are necessary or perhaps it's a race day problem - going off too soon, race day nerves, that sort of thing. Might be worth finding a 20 mile race that he can finish in a decent style before going for another 26 miler.

Ideally a runner should aim to do each half in about the same time, give or take a minute, so success lies in those long runs and a proper recovery afterwards.

Sanjifair Sat 18-May-13 07:39:25

How fast is he running his 20 milers? At planned marathon pace or slower? A lot of people fall into the trap of thinking they need to run them at PMP - you don't and it can be damaging. Slow running teaches your body to use fat as fuel, fast running just used up supplies of sugar and then you hit the wall.
my marathon pace is 8:30 but I usually do my long runs at 9:00 or slower. I do 4 20 milers and a 22. I have also run a sub 4 off the back of 2 20 milers and a 19. One year I raced a 20 miler 5 weeks before my marathon, thinking it would be fine. It really wasn't, I didn't recover in time. It sounds counter intuitive but he may need to slow his long training runs down (still do intervals and tempo runs during the week).
My half time is very similar to his - he really should be capable of sub 3:45 and if all went well a sub 3:30.
Also, what training plan does he use? He could try the runners world ultimate schedule (subscribers only) for sub 3:30. That should get him his sub 4 at a minimum.

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