Amsterdam Marathon 2023 | Running Through History & Canals

Amsterdam Marathon 2023

After managing to run a pb of 2:45:35 at Manchester marathon in April,  I went into the training block for the Amsterdam Marathon without any real pressure  other than to build on Manchester and enjoy the training and race itself.  I was high on confidence and was keen to keep the momentum going. 

My target was to go quicker than Manchester and smash another pb. I was  confident I could run a low 2:40s marathon so I set myself a target time of  around 2:42 which would mean I would have to knock over 3 minutes off my  current time of 2:45. 

Summer training begins

I started my marathon training first week in July which would give me a 13 week block going into the race on the 15th October. I enjoy marathon training during the summer, the warmer climates, the lighter mornings and evenings, it really is my favourite time of year to run! 

For the first few weeks it was just a case of easing back into things and slowly  increasing the volume and intensity. I managed to bank some solid marathon  paced sessions during this time. I am strong believer that the majority of your  training sessions should be at target marathon pace, which for me was 6:10 per mile. Your body needs to get comfortable training at this pace, so it doesn’t  feel like such a shock come race day. 

As the weeks progressed, the aerobic endurance continued to get stronger and  I was starting to feel sharp. I was regularly running 20 milers at the weekend with some marathon pace miles incorporated into these runs. 

Weekend long run Summer XC race

Summer XC racing & going long!

I was also racing in a summer cross country series which were great training  runs, these kind of races really do help to build leg strength and fitness. The  weekend before I started my training I managed to run 33:59 at a local 10k race  which was a huge confidence boost and the first time I had ever run under 34  minutes for a 10k. 

I was consistently running 70 mile weeks and the body was feeling strong  with no niggles. A typical week consisted of a hard marathon pace session Wednesday (around 10-12 miles in volume), then a 20+ mile run at the weekend, with all others runs just easy pace. This is a formula that works for me. 

Pre-marathon target race

I decided to book Battersea Park Half Marathon as my pre marathon tune up  race, this was 4 weeks out from race day so was perfect in terms going for a  fast time and having enough time to recover. It turned out to be a tough race. It was already 20 degrees at the start, and was a lapped course, meaning you were constantly overtaking other runners which meant it was pretty congested in places. I fell short of my target here and didn’t manage to get a pb which I was disappointed with, but considering the heat and race conditions it was still  a really solid workout so I knew it would only benefit me going into Amsterdam.

Battersea Park Half Marathon – 1:16:58
Post training session
For my final long run of the block, I managed to hit 23 miles which felt like a  big confidence boost. I had run more 20+mile runs during this block than in  any other so I knew my endurance was strong. All that was required now was  to get through the 2 week taper period unscathed and arrive on race day fit, healthy with legs feeling refreshed!  

Amsterdam touch down

I flew into Amsterdam on the Friday so had a few days to chill out before the big day! I headed to the expo as soon as I arrived to pick up my race number. I had a few friends over there with me doing the marathon and we decided to head to the local Parkrun Saturday morning and run it as a pre-marathon shakeout. It was a such a beautiful course which took in some trails along a lake and the atmosphere was amazing with so many marathon runners  buzzing in anticipation of the following day.

Amsterdam Bos Parkrun with friends Amsterdam Bos Parkrun with friends 2
We headed out Saturday evening to carb load and had a lovely Italian meal  then it was just a case of heading back to hotel and getting an early night  ahead of the big race. Unfortunately, I had a terrible nights sleep as our hotel was right in the centre of Amsterdam, and was so loud through the night. Think I only managed to get around 3 hours sleep which is terrible preparation before running a marathon. So this was definitely on my mind as I travelled to  the start of the race. And just to top things off, there was a massive hailstone  storm 30 minutes before the start of the race, with all runners trying to seek  shelter from it, and was also very cold so it was a case of trying to stay warm  as you really don’t want to be cold starting a marathon. 

3 months of grind comes down to this

So despite a less than ideal build up, the race got underway. The first 5k went by with no dramas, I managed to get away and get into a nice rhythm early on, settling into marathon pace and feeling pretty comfortable. Things continued in this vain and I was running in a nice little pack and the miles were flying by. I was taking gels every 30 minutes and the body was feeling good. I went through halfway in 1:21:44 which was bang on target time. The toughest part of the race followed this, there was a section around a big lake which was into a headwind and heavy rain which lasted for around 3 miles. I just tried  to stay focused and not drop pace too much, luckily I was in a little group of  runners so we were able to work together and share the load.  

Race photo Post marathon medal photo
I would say mile 16 onwards was when I started to ramp things up a bit, I felt  strong and knew I could start to push on a little and I was starting to pass  quite a few runners. My previous marathon had given me the confidence to do this. I hit mile 20 feeling good and this is a critical part of the race where you  can really make or break things. I decided to be brave, trust my fitness and training and kick on. I hit mile 23 and started to feel slight twinges in my right  hamstring and was praying it wasn’t going to escalate into full scale cramp, as I have had previous marathons where my race has been wrecked due to cramping in the final 5k and having to walk parts. Luckily the twinges didn’t  escalate and I was able to maintain pace until the finish. I hit mile 25 and knew I was on for a good time.  
Race Photo Race photo

Pure euphoria and emotion!

The feeling when I came into the Olympic stadium with 400 metres to go  was one of euphoria! I crossed the finish line in 2:42:09 for a massive new pb.  Finishing a marathon really is an emotional experience, I was overcome with joy and I was a little emotional realising the time I had just ran. I had executed  the race perfectly and achieved a lifetime ambition of a sub 2:45 marathon!

Strava run stats
My Runderwear race gear included the Running Briefs and the Cushioning Socks. These are my go to items for racing and I wouldn’t wear anything else. They really do provide unbelievable comfort and always give me that little edge on race day!

What's next?

So the big question is where do I go from here in my marathon journey? I have been accepted into Boston marathon in 2024 which is very exciting and that will complete my 3rd marathon major. I think it would be rude not to target a sub 2:40 for this! Keep pushing and embrace the grind as you never know where it might take you.


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runderwear at the National Running PodShow 2024

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