My Paris Marathon
Written By: SportsShoes
We interviewed Jon Cleaver, our Sportsshoes Chief of Technology, about his recent experience at the Paris Marathon 2022.
Hi Jon, thanks for taking the time to chat about your recent experience at the Paris Marathon. Could you start by telling us how your marathon journey first began?
My first marathon experience was in New York in 2011 and at that time I was running for personal challenge and to raise money for charity. At best, I would have described myself as a casual jogger and had you told me back then that I was capable of running close to an elite time in a major marathon, I would’ve thought you were crazy.
Since then, I have been chipping away at my times and in 2016 I became more serious about the sport. This year was the foundation of my success, as I was regularly doing the local park run and I joined a running club. I set myself a goal that I wanted to run every world major marathon by the time I was 40. I was lucky enough to bag the final 2, Berlin and Tokyo in 2019, just before the global pandemic cancelled every race worldwide.
Pictured: Jon wearing the new ASICS MetaSpeed Sky Racing Shoes
Can you tell us about your build up and preparation for Paris?
I had no plans for running a marathon this spring. I had instead focused my training & mileage on 10km and 5km road times and cross country. I managed to earn a county call up for Lancashire for the first time this year and won the Lancashire Vet 40 trophy, finishing 2nd overall in the Red Rose XC league. I also managed a 32:24 PB at the Trafford 10km which was a good 40 seconds faster than my previous best. I knew I was in shape. So, when I was asked to represent my employer Sportsshoes and ASICS at the Paris Marathon, I was absolutely delighted and naturally jumped at the opportunity.
Unlike other marathons that I’ve done in the past, I didn’t have a big build up. Instead, I was relying on my current fitness and form, which in many ways worked in my favour. For example, I wasn’t obsessing over the distance and I didn’t overtrain. I was in the middle of a block of training which included racing every week, so I knew I was competition-ready. I did however manage to run a couple of hilly 20-mile sessions on consecutive weeks, which were mainly for confidence more than anything else. This compares to a full 16-week dedicated schedule with specific marathon intent as I have done since 2018.
How did the race go?
It was a very early start at 08:15 and there was a slight chill in the air - probably about 3 degrees, but it was fine, dry and almost no wind – I thought to myself, ‘this is very much short shorts and vest weather in Lancashire’. The course wound around the city’s main attractions and rather than being pan flat like Berlin, it was slightly undulating which I think helps to give your muscles some relief on the sections with descent.
There are two important factors that give me a sense of paranoia - nutrition and hydration, both prior to and during the race. Should you suffer from the dreaded cramp, then your chances of a PB are over. I made a plan of drinking a bottle of water at every aid station and consuming a Huma energy gel every 6 miles.
My mindset was to break the distance down into manageable chunks because chasing an overall time can feel somewhat daunting. Instead, I set myself a target pace of 03:40 minutes per KM and had specific goals for 10km, 10-miles, halfway and the 20-mile marker. From here, I had to hope I’d done enough to get me to the finish.
Luckily for me I have a massive aerobic base to call upon and when I got to 20 miles well under my 2-hour target I knew I would be close to achieving a personal best. I kept telling myself, ‘just keep on going 1km at a time’.
The most important thing with the marathon is to expect it to hurt, so inevitably you’re not surprised when it does. What you need to do is keep your discipline and maintain your running form, or you could be in serious trouble. If your style becomes sloppy, you burn more energy and you risk injury. I just had to keep on reminding myself to look straight ahead, lean forward, lift your knees and kick your bum.
I got to 24-miles in a decent state and I knew then the PB was in sight. I just had to grit my teeth and run through the pain. At 26.2 miles I was relieved to see the finish line, check my watch and when it said 02:33:54 and honestly could not believe it.
Congratulations on your PB! It sounds like a fantastic experience and a very memorable day.
Yes, it really was. I would highly recommend the Paris marathon, a great atmosphere and race organisation, an excellent course and what a stunning city for your Sunday long run!
You can follow Jon and all of his running adventures here
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