Manchester Marathon Race Report 2024 - Brad Walker

Apr 18, 2024

Coached athlete Brad Walker's race report Manchester marathon

I went to see Dave in November last year for a lactate threshold test which is something I’d been contemplating for a long time. I finally decided to do it after Nathan Doy said “Go see Dave for a LT test and you’ll run under 2:40” as bluntly and as matter of fact as that.
In the past I’ve made a bad habit of being a yo-yo runner, getting myself in great shape after lots of hard work and training for a spring  marathon to then let it all go over the summer months, I was at the beginning of one of these comebacks when I went for my LT test with Dave.
I’d set my sights on sub 2:40 for the Manchester Marathon 2024 after running 2:43 in 2022 but I was a long way from 2:43 shape in November when I made the decision to go see Dave, running 18:45 at Pontefract parkrun two weeks prior.
The test itself started with an informal chat with Dave where he looked at body composition, lifestyle, diet, etc. Fresh from a near 18 month layoff from any kind of proper training this was something I needed to take onboard, mostly things we all know about training and recovery but hearing this was a “kick up the backside” that I needed. The actual test itself was fine, any runner who's ever done any kind of interval workout before shouldn’t be scared of the testing, by the time things get uncomfortable the test is virtually completed. Dave immediately indicated following my test that I’d been running “easy” days at too low an intensity which was then backed up by the detailed report that Dave emailed over the next morning.
Following my LT test I decided to take up Daves coaching as I wanted to do the test justice by doing the right training. Immediately, speeding up on easy days felt quite daunting and uncomfortable during the runs but this passed within 3-4 days before I knew it low 07:00/mi pace felt comfortable when I was running closer to 07:45/mi before going to see Dave, I also noticed that I started to feel better biomechanically, much smoother overall while running.
Within just 3 weeks I went to Doncaster 10k not expecting anything since such a short time had passed since my test and change of training, to mine (and I assume Dave’s) surprise I bagged a 30s PB (35:13) over 10k, something which had alluded me for 3.5 years. Motivated by a PB so early in training I got my head down for a couple of months PB’ing again in February at Dewsbury 10k (34:31) taking another 40+ seconds off my time set at Doncaster, followed by a huge 3m42s PB (74:35) in March at Middlesborough HM.
During this time training was going well but it never felt overwhelming or too much. In previous marathon training blocks it’s felt like I’ve been to war by the end of them praying for the taper to come, which is probably a catalyst for letting things go over the summer months as I’ve just been training at a level that I’m not willing or able to sustain.
Fast forward to the Manchester Marathon and I know I’m going into it in the shape of my life but nothing is certain with marathons, it’s such a long way and errors with fueling or pacing can scupper even the best training blocks. I’d decided that I was going to go out at 05:55/mi (02:35 pace) and see if I was able to kick on (or hang on!) at 20+ miles. Once the race started I settled into a nice little group of guys with big gaps in front and behind us after leaving the city centre at 6mi, at this point the group was starting to push on a little faster than my planned race pace but with a slight headwind for the next few miles I didn’t want to be left on my own so still feeling good I decided to stay with my group and let the miles tick over. We split halfway in 01:17:08, still a long way to go. It mostly stayed like this until 16mi when the group fell away as we left Altrincham, from here through to 20mi was mostly uneventful but now having to set my own pace with only one or two others for company. At 20mi I was pleasantly surprised to be able to push on a bit even though my legs felt tired, just having one other runner for company from here pushing each other on and counting down the remaining distance to the finish in any way which seemed more manageable at the time! (10k left, 20 minutes left, 2*10mins left!). Thankfully able to hold it together to the finish I crossed in 02:33:25, running a time that I never even imagined with a surreal second half split of 01:16:17.
Following the race I’m extremely proud of myself and excited for what's to come in the future considering what I’ve achieved with Dave’s guidance in just 5 months and a single training cycle. My first priority however (after taking a break this week for my legs to stop screaming) is to stop the yo-yo this year.
Brad Walker, 2:33 marathoner!



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