Maria runs for 3rd in the Auckland half marathon!

The Adidas Auckland half and full marathon is the largest running event in New Zealand. Over 16500 entrants participated this year! I have raced the half marathon three times and really enjoy it as it is well organized, caters for the full range of running abilities (i.e. elite athletes, weekend warriors, first-timers and recreational runners) and the supportive spectators create a motivating atmosphere.

The course is honest with numerous moderate and steep climbs (including the gnarly 1km climb up the Auckland Harbour Bridge!). I have yet to run under 80min on this course so that was this years goal. Training in the lead-up was reasonably solid. Fatigue resistance and speed endurance are important for distance running performance so training was structured to promote adaptations that augmented these factors (e.g. increased plasma volume, cardiac output, muscle capillary density, mitochondrial volume and oxidative enzymes). This meant most training runs were about logging miles (>110km/wk with a few bigger weeks) and also doing 2-3 interval sessions each week that were at or faster than goal pace. My favourite session is 12-16 x 400m on the track at goal 5km pace.

Race day performance isn’t just reliant on training alone though. Nutrition, sleep, work commitments and other life stress all have an impact and it’s an artwork to get the balance right. This is something I really worked on so that I could get to the start line fresh and relaxed. I had a strong race and was very happy to finish in 3rd place. I didn’t quite reach the time goal I was after but on reflection maybe I wasn’t as fresh as I could have been as I had just moved to a new city, started a new job and so still getting used to new routines. Not to worry though, I wasn’t far off and I still learnt loads from the race. The next key event for me is the National half marathon championships which are in Wellington in February.