Dan Nash broke the Newport Marathon record at the weekend. But how did he do it?
We caught up with Dan to find out about his preparations, celebrations and the race itself.
How did you prepare for the race in the months leading up to it?
Our son started nursery in January and so we have had an onslaught of colds and viruses ever since. I also began the year recovering from a knee injury which severely hampered my training for 4 weeks. Together, this has meant that my training has not been nearly as consistent as I like. I normally run twice per day most days, with some faster running on a Tuesday and Friday, and a longer run on Sunday. This normally adds up to around 90-100 miles. However, there haven’t been many normal weeks recently!
How did you prepare in the week leading up to it?
Having missed a fair bit of training in the weeks leading into Newport, I didn’t feel the need for a massive taper. I did my last bit of faster running on the Wednesday where I did 8×5 minutes on the treadmill. I ran 6 miles in the morning and 8 miles in the evening on Thursday. On the Friday I ran 8 miles, and then on Saturday I ran Newport parkrun pushing my son around in the buggy in 20 minutes. I didn’t do anything that special with my diet apart from avoiding too much fibre on the Saturday and ensuring a good dose of carbohydrates with each meal.
What did you do on the night/morning before the race?
There isn’t much chill time when you have a toddler! It also means there isn’t much time for overthinking things though which meant I was pretty relaxed about the race. We had lasagne for dinner once our son was finally in bed followed by our staple of tea and chocolate.
How tough was the race – were there points where you felt like giving up or weren’t going to complete it?
My race plan was always to run my own race. This meant tuning in to how I felt and making sure my heart rate didn’t get too high, too early. And although I paced the race really well (70:12 and 69:34 half marathon splits), there were certainly a few bad patches where I wasn’t sure if I would be able to sustain my pace. I ended up running 23 miles of the race by myself (a distant 2nd behind Adam Bowden, the previous winner and record holder) which was psychologically challenging, especially knowing I was well clear of 3rd but Adam was up front and out of sight until 22 miles.
You overtook Adam Bowden who won it the year before – how did that feel?
Adam shot off at the start and immediately had a good gap on the rest of the field. I eventually lost sight of him at 8 miles, by which time he had put about 90 seconds into me. So, when he came back into view at 22 miles, I knew he must be struggling. It was then a case of upping my effort as much as I could, while also ensuring I could sustain the effort to the finish. I was slowly reeling him and some of the spectators were shouting out ever reducing time gaps, but I wasn’t confident I was going to be able to catch him in time. I eventually caught him going up the final hill at 25 miles and consciously put in a big effort to make sure he didn’t have the opportunity to jump into my slipstream. The adrenaline surge from finally getting into the lead must have been sizeable as I covered the final mile in 5:03, my fastest of the race!
How did it feel crossing the line knowing you’d won?
I was elated! I had spent so much effort trying to catch Adam that I hadn’t really processed the fact that I was going to win until I crossed the line. My wife and son were right there at the finish and it really was a special moment.
What big events are next up for you?
I’m hoping to get straight back into training as I’ve entered the Cardiff 5K in two weeks’ time and then I have the South Downs 50km in May. Longer term, I’m hoping to get to a fast European marathon in the autumn where I would like to try and better my personal best time of 2:15.
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