Brighton Marathon - Post race analysis help

I had a disappointing day at Brighton yesterday, and would appreciate some help trying to work out where I went wrong.

A bit of background as to my (meagre) ability can be found on my Power Of 10 profile:

Based on my run in the Birmingham 1/2 last year, I drew up this training plan. A major factor is the amount of time I have to train due to work, so couldn't fit five runs per week. Felt this was a decent compromise, and as you can see, it suggested a decent result.

Following the plan was ok. It pushed me, but I could do, and did, all the sessions and recovered fine. Obviously the weather this winter played a big part, but nothing really suffered apart from the final 20 mile run which had to be replaced with 12 miles XC in the snow.

The goal for Brighton was sub-4hr. Given that plan, and my result in the Ashby 20, I felt this was comfortably achievable, so decided to put myself in the 3:45 pace group. I finished Ashby feeling good and with some left in the tank. As you can see here it was a decent run:

Contrast this to yesterday's effort:

Up to 16 miles felt fine, legs good, plenty of energy. Then my legs just stopped working and seized. Still had loads of energy, so hadn't 'hit the wall', but legs got stiffer and stiffer and eventually reduced me to a walk with cramp. Only around mile 25 was I able to get them moving again and jog slowly over the line.

I've identified a few issues, but wondered if anyone else has any thoughts? I can see:

A) I aimed too high. Based on my run at the Ashby 20 I thought I was good for 3:45 so I joined that pace group. Should have gone for the 4:00 as that was what I ran at Ashby, and upped the speed in the last mile to get under 4 hours.
B) Food wasn't ideal the day before because of the travelling. For Ashby I was at home and could eat right.
C) Pacers weren't very good and I wasn't strong enough to cope with it. 3:45 is 8:34 pace. We ran the first 5 miles all over the place, but mostly high and then the next 7 at 8:20 and below to get back on time. So we went through 13.1 bang on time but the increase in pace was too much for me.

Today, I feel fine. Some stiffness in the quads, but certainly not the kind of 'John Wayne' walk I really should have after a max effort, which indicates it wasn't a max effort. Ok, so it was a 25 minute PB, but I feel I got nowhere near what I should have been capable of.


  • Sub 4 looks just about likely based on your 20 mile - but 3.45 is a lot faster. You've gone too fast and paid big time. You can't run a marathon a full half minute a mile faster than you've run 20 miles.

    I think you could have taken gels on earlier too. I have them every five miles and go through 5 or so. How many did you have ?

    Also how many long runs did you get in ? The last 6 really catch you out if you're not fully trained.

    That said - I'd be bloody ecstatic to PB by 25 minutes !

    Well done !
  • Lets see, long runs, there were two 16s, two 18s, two 20s. There should have been another 20 but it snowed so I did 12 XC.

    Gels, interesting. For all my long runs prior to Ashby, I was taking them every 30 minutes from 30 minutes in. But I found that come Ashby I was getting GI problems later on, plus I felt like I didn't actually need it. I had 6 with me, used 5 on the day.

    I think you right ultimately, I went off too fast. 15 minutes doesn't seem like a big amount but it is.

    Thanks for your comments.
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    Sounds like going off too fast and not enough 20 milers in training.

    I like to go by the rule of my 5 longest runs totalling 100 miles. It really helps you hold onto your pace in the last 6.
  • PG3PG3 ✭✭✭

    Surely the Ashby 20 should have been a training race?  Did you race this slower than your PMP?  If not, maybe you ran too fast.

    The pacers also sound a bit dodgy.  I don't run with pacers any more after doing it twice at Royal parks half and they were awful (like walking in the last mile to slow the pace down to finish in the right time!).  Some pacers are great, but I guess you dont know when you line up with them. Surely in today's world of Garmins, pacing is a lot easier than it used to be.


    I have a place for sale in Stratford on 28th April if you want another go? Transfers are permitted.

    It sounds like you have unfinished business.  Maybe going out a little easier would have ended with a faster time.

  • I used Ashby as a test. Ran the first half at long run training pace (9:09) and the second half at marathon pace (8:30). Everything went well, so I figured I was good for a MP of 8:30 to hit 3:45 with a little fade.

    Funny you should say that about Stratford. I felt just that: unfinished business, so actually enter on the evening of Brighton. I've run the half for the last couple of years, and always said I'd never to the marathon because I don't like multi-lap courses, but it was close to home and long enough to recover.

    I'll go for 9min/mile on the dot and pace myself. I'm certain I can do it.
  • Hi Ben,

    Some similarities between us here. I did Brighton on Sunday also and i had a big dilemma as to what pace to go out at prior to the race:

    - I am 39, running 2 years

    - First marathon

    - PB for 1/2 (Brighton in Feb) 1:42:40

    - Did a 20 mile race in 2:53 6 weeks ago; ran 10 miles at 9mm, then ran next 10 at 8:15 pace, came hoem feeling great!

    - I trained about 35 miles per week from January, 3 20+ milers

    Based on the above I was convinced I had 3:45 in me.  However I posted up my data over on the US RW forum and they had some fairly consistent advice that 3:45 was too much, based on my relatively low milage and limited running history. the advice that stuck with me was "start with the 3:45 pace group and let them go".

    In the end I got stuck a way back behind the 3:45 group, and I decided to wear my HR monitor (which i always train with) for the race and use my HR to judge the right effort level.

    I ended up raining myself in to around 8:40-8:45 pace for the first half of the race, and i still paid for it in the second where I slowed by about 3 minutes.  The undulations of the first half really seemed to take it out of me, and I was tired at mile 17 but kept going and managed to finish in 3:51 just about fighting off cramp the last 2 miles.  From about 18 miles I felt I was on the verge of blowing up, and felt utterly destroyed at the end; I am certain that had i gone out following the 3:45 group I would have been walking at around 18 miles; I also think had i ran a more consistent 8:50 pace for the first half I might have got home maybe just under 3:50.

    I learnt a few things from all this:

    - Race time predictors are not to be trusted unless you are doing high mileage.  My HM time almost led me to making a huge and painful mistake on race day, and I was lucky I asked a question on the US forum.

    - There is a huge difference between 20 and 26 miles, it really shocked me on the day how much harder it was than the 20 mile race.

    - I will be more conservative next time about my pace at the start

    - I need to run more miles

    I hope my analysis helps yours.  I think from my own experience and times you just unknowingly set yourself an impossible pace at the start.



  • jr2408 uncanny similarities in what we've done there (and in age and experience too)!  Congratulations on a great result.

    You're right, I simply need to start slower.  That was where I misinterpreted my result from the Ashby 20.  I start slow and finished faster on that and somehow inferred that meant I could start fast and finish fast at Brighton image  This showed exactly in when I blew at Brighton, around 16/17 miles, when I went through that point comfortably at Ashby.  It's amazing how much difference 30 secs a mile makes when it seems so small.  But I guess that's experience for you, and I'm also only a couple of years into my running career.

    Went out for an easy couple of miles yesterday to loosen up.  All the stiffness has gone from my legs now, so will continue with easy 3 milers Thursday/Friday, an easy 5 on Sunday and then the same next week.  Then have a bash at Stratford sticking to 9min/mile and see how I go.

  • Ben,

    Good news is that it sounds like you have come out of it better that I have - I could barely walk yesterday and I am still having trouble with stairs today and i am generally absolutely shattered, heavy chest etc - running again is some way off I think!

    Whilst i am very happy with my time I think it would have been nicer to have started slower and had something left at the end, rather than being at the limit of blow up pace for the first half and hanging on for dear life for the second.  It is pretty clear I pushed myself to the absolute limit.

    Good luck for Stratford!



  • Probably the advantage of my legs cramping.  The cramp was so bad I couldn't even attempt to run and had to walk 7 miles from 18-25.  I guess this has meant I don't have the kind of muscle damage you'd expect after running the full distance.  Sounds like you have given it everything you had, which I think is how it should be after so much training has gone in.

    I've had to tell myself in the previous marathons that I don't need to hold anything back because you get so into a habit of conversing yourself in training so you can continue to train.

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