These are not excuses. These are things that I learnt running my third marathon, Tokyo Marathon 2016.
If you haven’t read what happened to my Tokyo Marathon, you can click this link.
I split them into seven.
I may have blamed my cramps on insufficient salt tablets, but like a friend suggested, it was not the case.
I was so focused on developing my aerobic base by clocking more than a thousand of slow miles, that I forgot about musculoskeletal aspect of endurance running. I only had two weeks of quality speed work training to improve my musculoskeletal and it was not enough.
After running way faster than the pace that I was used to in training for 30 kilometres, my legs could not hold it and my muscle strength deteriorated. This was the cause of the cramps that I suffered after 30 kilometres.
For my next marathon, I would change my training approach. I would intersperse at least two sessions of speed work, interval, tempo among the slow miles a week, from the beginning.
Overconfidence and Too Ambitious
My initial target was to run a sub-3:30 marathon. Few weeks before the race, I panicked and got greedy. I thought I was capable of running a sub-3:20 marathon.
Once I decided to run a 3:20 marathon, I knew it was make or break. I may fail to even run a 3:30 marathon. And that was exactly what happened. I paid the price.
Went Out Too Fast Too Early
I crossed the starting line some 16 minutes after the gun. The traffic was so bad. I spent first few kilometres navigating through the traffic. Quick little bursts here and there to get past other runners drained precious glycogen reserve. It was like driving a car. If you have cars that come with fuel consumption gauge, you would notice that a heavy acceleration even at low speed consumed more fuel than cruising at very high speed. I wasted unnecessary glycogen bursting past other runners.
Accidentally Paused GPS Watch
At about KM3, I accidentally paused my watch. I realised it (from my estimation) after 1.2 kilometres. I lost track of the time and distance.
Change to a new watch, maybe? What say YOU?
Lack of Nutrition
I did not go on a strict diet. I did not count calories. But I tried to eat the right food most of the time, up until I reached Japan. Once I was in Tokyo, my eating pattern was erratic. I skipped breakfast, I had lunch and dinner at odd hours, and I did not eat the right food.
On the eve of the race, I only had a plate of pasta and it was not enough. I went to bed feeling hungry.
I learnt that preparation did not end until the gun. Two days of erratic eating behaviour spoilt the hard work that I put on for months.
Drained before the Start
Tokyo is not a city, it is a megalopolis. It is huge. I bought a 3-day metro pass, but I still walked a lot. It was not advisable but I spent some money to come here, so I wanted to make my trip worth. I tried to see as many things as I could.
My legs were worn before the race even started.
Spent Too Much Time and Energy at the Race Expo While Carrying a Heavy Load
I went to the race expo on Saturday, a day before the race. I thought the race expo was the same as KL Marathon expo. Go to Dataran Underground, collect the race kits, and off I go. For goodness sake, this was Tokyo Marathon, one of six World Marathon Majors. The race expo was huuuuugggeeee. Race kits collection was quick and seamless, but there are so many exhibitors. The only noteworthy exhibitor was Asics, but I did not want to miss anything. So I visited almost all booths. I probably spent more than two hours at the expo. All this while carrying a heavy bag. I hurt my back in the process.
My body was tired from all the walkings around the city and at the expo.
For my next major races, I would plan to collect race kits early and spend a lot less time visiting the booths at the expo.
Weak Mental Strength
I had run three marathons, and I suffered the same. Cramps happened and I knew the longer I contemplated on the cramps, the more I would suffer. The key to beat the cramps was to keep moving. I knew this well. But I decided to stop and fix it. It only amplified the cramps.
I can read as many training plans as I can to develop aerobic and musculoskeletal and try to follow them. But mental strength? This is a lot harder to develop.
Enough of my rant on Tokyo Marathon. I have moved on even though I am still carrying some sort of injury from the marathon. It seems that I won’t be able to run a marathon in Q2 of this year. With no marathons in mind, my motivation is only to maintain fitness. I miss running a 100-km week.