With just four days to go until the Kakegawa Marathon, I’ve been thinking about race strategy.
First of all, I’m following the advice of a friend who told me to set three time goals so if you miss the first you can still aim for the second and third. My goals are: sub-3:30, 3:45 and 3:57:26, the last being my current PR which I set in the Nara Marathon last December.
What I’m up against
The biggest challenges I’ll face are undoubtedly the heat – the forecast is 21C and sunny, and whether the foot and knee injuries I’ve been hampered by reveal themselves early or late in the race.
To combat the heat, I’ll dress in a sleeveless white shirt and cap. I’ll make sure I drink water regularly in the days leading up to the race and at every water station on the course (every 3 or 4 kilometers). That should keep me hydrated. Also electrolytes in sports drinks are supposed to keep cramping at bay so I’ll drink some of them, too.
As for the injuries, well, I’m resting this week, but will go for a very short test run on Friday. There’s not much I can do about the pain in my second metatarsal joint (base of the second toe). My Nike Lunarspider LT+2 shoes are reasonably well cushioned so I will just cross my fingers.
I’ve been doing leg raises and planks all week to strengthen my hips and glutes in the hope of relieving the stress on my right knee, which feels similar to the IT band syndrome I suffered in my other leg last year. The possible hamstring pull that made last Saturday’s run so painful has subsided a bit, but is likely to haunt me late in the race. I must be careful to take small steps and not overextend my stride.
In my favor
My 3:57:26 PR in the Nara Marathon came after a two month period of injury, where I could hardly run at all. In fact, I was just two weeks into the Couch to 10K program I was using for rehabilitation! I think the last C210K workout I did before Nara was a run/walk which consisted of just 9 minutes of running… with walk breaks! I’ll be going into the Kakegawa Marathon with a few long runs in my legs including a new, half-marathon PR.
Because of that injury, I ran Nara with my left knee wrapped in a compression sock, a heavy-duty knee brace with steel springs in it, and I had an ITBS strap above that. Japan video blogger, BusanKevin, affectionately referred to me as the “roborunner”! In Kakegawa, I won’t be weighed down by any knee braces.
The Nara Marathon was extremely hilly. Kakegawa, on the other hand, has a long stretch of mostly flat road, and although the last section is hilly, the elevation graph shows it’s not as bad as Nara. In fact, the biggest hill is only a 60m climb, which is smaller than some of the hills I train on. Of course, I realize that in the last 10K of a marathon, even small hills feel like mountains.
Setting the pace
While I ran Nara at 5:30/km pace, I’ll need to run Kakegawa at 5:00/km pace to get close to 3 hours, 30 minutes. Although that looks like a big jump, considering I ran the Kakamigahara Half-Marathon at 4:30/km pace in warm weather, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
I’ll take the advice of Osaka-based runner and friend, Scott Brown:
I’d start just a tad slower than your marathon pace and build to just a bit over. Let the speed/race come to you.
And who would argue with a 2:45 marathoner?!If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!