Endurance Skating

Training, Racing & LCHF Fueling For Skating And Endurance Sports

Race Report: Thames Meander Marathon [run] – 14.03.2015

Setting off...

Setting off…


Last Saturday, just shy of 6 months after popping my marathon cherry, I ran my 2nd full marathon. I have carried on running over the winter and was keen to test myself once again at the 26.2 mile distance to see how far I had come in my journey as a runner.

6 month ago…Berlin…
My first marathon experience – Berlin Marathon 27.09.2014
Numbers, Stats & Post-Race Analysis from Berlin

The Training Cycle

Training in the lead-up to this marathon had been somewhat sparse.  A review of my training log says that in the 10 weeks prior to my last long run, I had logged roughly 50 running hours – translating into an average of 5hrs/week.  As you know, most of my training is done at MAF, and at my current level this translates into roughly 50 km, ie… barely 30 miles/week.  Most of this training consisted of:


  • Short MAF-style commuting runs to and from work – usually between 5-8km, often twice a day, and usually with a backpack. I would deliberately go out of my way to look for a hilly route to get some vertical into the mix – hill work is always good.
  • Longest runs were 2×15 mile runs, one at MAF and one at Marathon pace. I also raced a half marathon 3 weeks before, and there was also one other half-marathon effort at marathon pace. My longest run was not more than 15 miles!
  • For two months, I also devoted 20 minutes/day to doing the Kinetic Revolution 30 Day challenge strength and mobility exercises for runners (I repeated this twice over).  The idea being this should help my running form – specificity, people, specificity!
  • I would perform regular MAF tests on the treadmill at the gym, and also do 30 minutes a week of general strength and conditioning work. Skating & cycling typically provided an additional 4-5hrs/week of cross-activity.


All in all, I think it’s fair to say that my training was certainly not what you could call high-volume, although I certainly wasn’t following a minimalist protocol, that’s just the volume I was able to fit into my schedule. My highest volume week consisted of 8.5hrs of running and 6hrs of other stuff, and I definitely felt that I was flirting with stage 1 over-training at that point.

I opted for a shorter 2-week taper as I knew that my volume did not really justify anything longer. And I really did taper quite drastically – reducing volume to just 2hrs of MAF style running per week, with some light strides thrown into the mix.

The Marathon

The Thames Meander Marathon is very different to Berlin as I knew it would be – a local affair with just 300 crazy runners on a blustery early spring day who took on the challenge of running up and down the Thames path. The course is scenic and flat, with a mix of road and light gravel trails – it’s a pretty fast course, although it’s not closed off, so you have to share the path with other users, as well as the numerous regatta boats that are being prepped at that time of the day.

So how did I get on? Just fine, as it turns out. I think that I pushed the envelope a little further and managed run a little harder than I did in Berlin.  Official chip time was 3hr 38m 09s (new PR by 21 minutes). Maybe a minute or two was lost because I forgot to caffeinate my drink bottle, but otherwise I was satisfied that I got nearly everything I could out of myself on the day that my training and current fitness allowed.  Pace-wise I pretty much nailed it – first half split was 1h:47m and 2nd half was 1h:50m, a +1.6% positive split. This was particularly pleasing, although the last 1/3rd of the race was tough going as I knew it would be considering my lack of running miles… I clung on admirably. HRavg was 171.5bpm (about 87% of HRmax). This was definitely a few notches higher than Berlin, where I think I averaged about 84%HRmax.

I fell short of the 3:28 prediction of the VDOT calculator, but this was no surprise to me in the end. VDOT doesn’t say that I should definitely be able to run a 3:28 marathon just because I ran a 1:39 half marathon, it says that based on my oxygen delivery I should be able to run a 3:28 marathon provided that I have done the appropriate training for it – subtle difference!

Marathoning 101 - always smile for the cameras!

Marathoning 101 – always smile for the cameras!

What I Learnt From my 2nd Marathon

So some things that I learnt training and racing this…

  •  You can effectively train for a marathon with less mileage and commitment than most programmes suggest, especially if you already have a good base and do at least some modest amount of regular running.
  • You don’t need mega mileage to get faster: Recall that I have improved my PR by 21 minutes on 5hrs/week of running at MAF. You should do as much as you feel your body can comfortably handle.
  • However, while I was able to do this on 5hrs/week of pure running, I probably need to throw 8hrs/week at this (and less skating/cycling) and focus on more marathon specificity to have a go at cracking sub-3:30. That’ll have to wait for another time 🙂
  • Transitioning to minimalist shoes has probably helped improve my running form. While I don’t think it’s turned my into a fleet-footed Tarahumara-style forefoot striker, I think that they encourage landing more underneath your body which also increases your stride rate, making more effective use of muscle tendon elasticity (the holy grail of unlocking “free speed” for runners). Having played around with various different running shoes, I think that my preference is for a zero-drop minimalist shoe, with a spacious toe-box and a small (but not zero) amount of cushioning – my current favourites and the shoes I ran the marathon in are the Mizuno Cursoris.
  • Don’t fixate on a target distance for the long run – it’s a bit over-rated. Just make it as long as you feel you need to prepare you for completing the marathon distance strongly. For me that was 15 miles. If it’s your first marathon then going longer is probably a good idea, but once you know what it feels like to be tired after 20 miles then you don’t really need to go there except actually during future races.
  • Run commuting rocks! It’s a great way to train for a marathon without taking out time from other areas of your life! Lots of shorter runs work just as well as a few longer runs – it all adds up.
  • I dare say that I felt I finished in slightly better shape at the end of this marathon than I did for my first… as in I didn’t need to lie down for half an hour afterwards completely destroyed, wondering if I would ever have use of my legs again. I even managed to cycle – slowly – home. Also, compared to Berlin, my feet hurt much less at the end! I remember my feet being REALLY sore in the last 10km at Berlin. Maybe that’s because a lot of this marathon was run on an easier surface, maybe it was the result of continual improving foot strength, maybe it’s the result of the switch to minimalism – I suspect all three – but it was definitely noticeable.

Additional Info


Bacon & Eggs, Bulletproof coffee with chia seeds

In-race fuel

1x250ml electrolyte drink
1x250ml bottle of UCAN, Whey, BCAA, honey & table salt. Tasted a bit iffy :-/
Aid stations – water only

My Strava trace Link
..and as an amusing comparison, a similar trace from some poor guy who bonked at 36km. Oops.
#fatadaptation ftw, innit. ^_^

KM splits

km  Pace/km  Pace/mile HR
  1 05:08 08:15 155
  2 04:57 07:58 168
  3 05:07 08:14 171
  4 05:12 08:22 170
  5 05:08 08:15 170
  6 05:20 08:35 172
  7 05:07 08:14 173
  8 05:08 08:15 174
  9 05:11 08:20 175
 10 05:04 08:09 174
 11 05:21 08:36 174
 12 05:04 08:09 173
 13 05:01 08:04 174
 14 05:10 08:19 172
 15 04:57 07:58 175
 16 04:54 07:53 176
 17 05:05 08:11 173
 18 04:52 07:50 174
 19 05:14 08:25 172
 20 05:01 08:04 173
 21 04:50 07:46 173
 22 04:58 07:59 172
 23 05:14 08:25 172
 24 05:06 08:12 174
 25 05:06 08:12 175
 26 05:03 08:07 174
 27 05:04 08:09 171
 28 04:54 07:53 176
 29 04:58 07:59 174
 30 05:20 08:35 170
 31 05:15 08:27 171
 32 05:15 08:27 171
 33 05:08 08:15 169
 34 05:19 08:33 170
 35 05:28 08:48 170
 36 05:27 08:46 167
 37 05:20 08:35 168
 38 05:35 08:59 167
 39 05:24 08:41 167
 40 05:38 09:04 167
 41 05:24 08:41 169
 42 05:27 08:46 169


9 comments on “Race Report: Thames Meander Marathon [run] – 14.03.2015

  1. JC
    March 17, 2015

    Impressive stuff Van. Well done again on your time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JC
      March 17, 2015



      • JC
        March 17, 2015

        Taking notes.,….


    • Van
      March 17, 2015

      Thank man! when you gonna start training for Berlin?


      • JC
        March 20, 2015

        I guess I’ve started training already to some degree, slowly getting my body used to running more frequently. The mud runs I’ve got lined up at the beginning of the year are my main distance focus. Will get into full marathon mode post Le Mans.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. organicsandra
    March 19, 2015

    Congrats on your latest marathon effort and a new PR. It sounds like you are definitely getting into your marathon groove. Also, thanks for stopping by my blog! I wish you much success with continuing your training and love your great blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Van
      March 19, 2015

      Thanks for you kind words ORM! Good luck with your continuing adventure in running and tri! I will check in on your progress from time to time!


  3. Pingback: Training Log Update: Week Ending 15.03.2015 | Endurance Skating

  4. Pingback: Training block 12.04.2015 – Embracing The Suck | Endurance Skating

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This entry was posted on March 17, 2015 by in Marathon, Running and tagged , , , .

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