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  • Writer's pictureTom

Training for the Valencia Marathon - Week 13

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

And here we are, race week. What at the outset seems like a long way away always ends up coming around so quickly. I remember for my first couple of marathons I would be bouncing off the walls during the final week, my mind full of 'maranoia', looking back over my training schedule to see if I'd done enough, thinking that injury lurked behind every muscle and tendon. With more experience I've learned to allow that thinking to pass without giving it any real credence, and instead I've accumulated a variety of final week rituals that I now look forward to and give me something else to focus on. They include things like:


  • Certain meals (I like to cook a good steak as my final meal before carb loading).

  • A trip to the local leisure centre where they have a sauna.

  • Making sure I go out and see friends and not just bury myself at home

That, along with still having some key (albeit reduced) workouts still to do, keeps me focussed and means that I tend not to think about the race until the day before.


Here's how week 13 of training for the Valencia Marathon went.


Monday


Full rest


Tuesday


1000 x 6, averaging 6:09/mile. At this stage of marathon training I have normally cut out caffeine and reduced my carbohydrate intake (the idea being that when you do start your carb loading, your body stores more of them. There's mixed evidence for this but I've personally done it several times now and I've noticed the difference between doing it and not doing it). This can make these final runs a bit more challenging as I don't have the same energy boosters, but at the same time the paces are quite gentle and on refreshed legs generally feel comfortable.


A light strength session in the afternoon.


Wednesday


1000 x 4, fewer reps than yesterday but quicker this time, averaging 5.57/mile. Feeling hopeful and growing in confidence that my target MP for race day (6.15/mile) will seem relatively comfortable.

Thursday


An easy session coaching the girls, with 200 x 9 thrown in, which all felt really smooth well above MP.


Carb loading starts today.


Friday


A final run, albeit with the running buggy (getting in some childcare before heading off for the weekend and leaving my wife to it!). 30 minutes with some strides. Off to the airport!


Saturday


A trip to the Expo to pick up my bib, then later met up with a club mate of mine for a dip in the sea. There are electrolytes in sea water, right?


Sunday


The usual awful night's sleep before, I think despite going to bed at around 9pm it wasn't until closer to 2am that I properly nodded off. I knew however that at this point rest is more important than sleep, so didn't panic about this. Four hours is plenty, I can catch up next week.


I started the race near the back of my wave, having prioritised a last minute toilet stop. Given that I was in a fast wave, I trusted that being at the back of it wouldn't be an issue and would in fact force me to set off sensibly. I've found that over the years I've become less and less obsessed with planning out my race in advance and more (but not entirely) comfortable going with the flow and seeing how things unfold. In my experience it's not until at least halfway until you can properly assess how things are going and at that point certain options present themselves to you. I ran a pretty conservative first half, going through halfway in 1:23:47. I checked my watch to see the distance and could see that I was around 150m over half marathon distance, so needed to keep that in mind in terms of my sub 2:45 target, as my target pace of 6.15/mile might leave me very close.


I always intended on a negative split but of course it's easier said than done. However, I was feeling good at halfway and gradually wound it up. By mile 18 I was hitting that 6.15 pace and bringing down my average pace to something close to it. A club mate of mine who had done the Valencia Marathon before had told me that the last 5k is slightly downhill, and true to his word it was the perfect course for the final dash for home. I covered mile 26 in 5:48 and the final 400m or so averaging 5:28. Alas, as I feared the extra distance and the slightly-too-cautious opening half did end up costing me and I finished with a chip time of 2:45:17. Still, I was not at all despondent, this was a PB by over 4 minutes and another one which, due to the strong finish, left me thinking that I was not finished with the marathon yet!

Tom Shax Valencia Marathon 2023 race analysis Strava graph mile splits
The breakdown of my marathon showing the mile splits

Overall it was a successful conclusion to a generally good training block, one which had challenges to navigate and a few setbacks but which in the end roughly ended up where I hoped it would. I learned a lot which I'll reflect on in a later post. The Valencia Marathon absolutely lives up to the hype, it is a dream course raced in near perfect conditions at this time of year. If you're PB hunting, then you will struggle to find a better course.


Week summary


46 miles (including 26.2 ;-)

2 EIM workouts

1 strength session

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