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Three Roads, One Goal: Jacob Allen

Embark on a series of interviews with three SOAR Race Team athletes gearing up for the London Marathon this year. Join us as we sit down with Jacob, Mo, and Andy to explore how athletes with diverse backgrounds unite toward a shared objective. From training techniques to aspirations, gain insights into managing elite-level training alongside the everyday commitments of amateur racers.

Our first guest: Jacob Allen.

What's your preferred race distance and why?

 The half-marathon holds a special place in my heart as my favourite distance. I'm drawn to its perfect blend of endurance and speed, providing a thrilling challenge that keeps me hooked. As I continue to navigate the elite racing scene in this distance, I'm excited about the journey of mastering its intricacies. 

How has your training approach evolved over the years?

My training philosophy has evolved significantly over time. From relying heavily on instinct, I now integrate experience, coach feedback, and refined instinct. This holistic approach ensures optimal performance, injury prevention, and consistency, emphasising both physical improvement and overall well-being. 

Can you describe your training block for the London Marathon?

In preparing for the London Marathon, my focus has been on maintaining happiness and health. Every mile counts, but not at the expense of my overall well-being. By strategically managing my training load and prioritising rest, I aim to arrive at the starting line both physically and mentally prepared. Balancing training with life's demands is key, recognising that a contented runner is a swift one. 

How do you balance mileage, speed work, and recovery in your weekly training schedule?

I approach my training week with flexibility, always making small adjustments based on how my body is recovering. If necessary, I'm willing to push a session back a day and prioritise rest. Then, I'll make sure to get ample sleep and attack the next day's workout with renewed energy. 

How do you manage training alongside work and family commitments?

Managing training alongside work and family life involves careful planning. I utilise my diary to stay organised and ensure I can meet my work commitments while also making time for my family. Setting clear boundaries around work allows me to focus on other important aspects of life and maintain a balanced lifestyle. 

What's your key pre-marathon session?

For me, the key pre-marathon session is a 20-mile run, broken into segments of 4 miles at marathon pace followed by 1 mile at a float pace, repeated four times. Although I didn’t feel my best during this session, I see it as an opportunity for growth and improvement in future training blocks. 

How do you approach tapering and dealing with restlessness and doubt? 

During the taper period, I aim to maintain consistency in my routines while reducing training volume. This includes focusing on nutrition, prioritising sleep, staying on top of strength and conditioning, and maintaining balance in other areas of my life. By sticking to familiar routines, I mitigate restlessness and doubt, trusting in my preparation for the race ahead. 

What are your pre-race rituals and routines?

While I don't adhere to strict pre-race rituals, I prioritise reflection on my training and trust in my preparation. I ensure to have a nourishing meal the night before the race, usually pasta, and follow a 20-minute stretching routine before bed.

On race morning, I organise my race kit in advance and have breakfast ready, while ensuring all race day essentials are prepared ahead of time. 

What is your pacing strategy?

During the marathon, I have a pacing strategy in mind but aim not to rely solely on my watch. Instead, I focus on racing instinctively, paying attention to how my body feels throughout the race. This approach allows me to adapt my strategy, particularly in the later stages of the marathon, based on my physical condition and perceived effort. 

How do you handle nutrition and hydration for training and race day, especially for the marathon?

Hydration tablets are a crucial part of my hydration strategy, aiding in maintaining electrolyte balance before and after training runs. For fuelling during the marathon, I opt for carb-based gels, consuming them approximately every 30 minutes to sustain energy levels throughout the race.

What's your target time? 

My target time for the marathon is 2:14. I would love to eventually look to break 2:10 but respect the level of mastery that this will require. 

What's the perfect post-marathon munch?

After crossing the finish line, my perfect post-marathon indulgence includes a pizza, a large Coke, and a beer - a well-deserved treat after completing 26.2 miles. 

What's your next challenge? 

Post-London Marathon, my next challenge involves participating in track races scheduled for June/July this year. Beyond that, I'll assess my options for future races and distances, considering another marathon in 2025, along with aiming to improve my times in the 5k, 10k, and half marathon distances.