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  • Caitriona Jennings - 3rd in Women's Marathon

    Caitriona Jennings - 3rd in Women's Marathon

    01 Dec 2021

    Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2021

    Two months after claiming the Irish National 100km title in a record time of 7:43, Caitriona had a very impressive performance at the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2021 in a time of 2:51. Caitriona came 3rd women overall, and 1st in the Elite Master’s category. The race gathered almost 16,000 participants in the Full Marathon, Half Marathon and 10km Races.

    How did you prepare for the marathon? Did you have any difficulties preparing for the event due to COVID?

    “My build-up to SCHKM 2021 was very different from any marathon I have run in the past. I raced in the Anglo Celtic Plate 100km in Ireland in late August where I set a new Irish record for the distance. My training for this was much more focused on longer, relatively easy runs. I returned to Hong Kong exactly 5 weeks before the marathon, so I spent 2 weeks in hotel quarantine training on a treadmill! My husband was not too impressed with my constant need to put the air conditioning down as low as possible! I finished quarantine 3 weeks before the marathon, and although I would usually taper for 3 weeks before a big event, I decided to train for one more week to get some quality sessions completed and reduced my taper to 2 weeks.”

    What was your nutrition during the marathon?

    “I used a carbohydrate gel every 30 minutes during the marathon and tried to drink as much water as possible, although it was difficult drinking out of the paper cups. Typically, when I race a marathon, I am permitted to leave my own carbohydrate drinks with the organisers in advance, and these are then placed at each 5km marker. As I would usually use Tailwind Nutrition for these drinks, I had to change my nutrition strategy for this marathon, but I think it went OK for me.”

    Do you use any special equipment like shoes or clothing when racing?

    “Yes, I wore the Hoka Rocket X racing shoe which is Hoka’s premier carbon plate marathon shoe. It’s very light and comfortable and the carbon plate gives good energy return. I also wore the Hoka racing top and shorts - it’s important to find clothing that’s comfortable and breathable, particularly in the Hong Kong humidity! ”

    How did you feel after finishing the marathon?

    “I had mixed feelings when I finished. I was pleased to finish in the top 3 ladies and take a podium spot. However, I felt that I had raced uncharacteristically conservatively as I was concerned about the course and the conditions on the day. I had way too much energy left at the end of the marathon and I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t raced harder.”

    What advice would you give to runners who want to prepare for a marathon?

    “Pick a marathon with sufficient time to train for it based on your fitness level. Get a coach or a training programme to stick to - consistency is key in marathon training so plan ahead at the start of each week to ensure you’ve set aside time to get your training in. Finally, find a group or some training partners to run with. Running is much more fun when you run with a buddy or with a group - you’re also accountable to someone else when your alarm goes off at 6am and you’re tempted to press snooze!”

    What was your best time ever in the marathon?

    “My best time is 2:36:11 from 2012. However, I ran 2 marathons in 2019 just prior to Covid in 2:38 and 2:37 so I felt like I was getting close to my best then - it’s good to know that there’s still some speed in the legs with the correct build-up!”

    Did your body have time to recover since your 100km record performance in Ireland 2 months ago, and considering you had to do a 14-day quarantine upon return?

    “My body had recovered from the 100km race but I was missing the speedwork and marathon specific training sessions that I would usually do before a marathon. It was really tough being in quarantine and trying to get in long runs / speed sessions on a treadmill which was why I reduced my taper from 3 weeks to 2 weeks but realistically, it was far from an ideal build-up to a marathon!” Caitriona Jennings is a former triathlete who represented Ireland at youth level. She also represented Ireland in the 2012 Olympics Marathon. She is a running coach and a motivational speaker.