Race Report: Apollo Tyres New Delhi Marathon 2024 by Kartik

Training insights and race strategy of Kartik's outing at New Delhi Marathon
Race Report: Apollo Tyres New Delhi Marathon 2024 by Kartik
Date: 25 Feb 2024
Start time: 4:15 AM
Start point: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi
Elevation: 45m ascent
Race Distance: 42.2km
  • Goal: 3:09:xx @ 4:28/km
  • Achieved : 3h:16m:42s

When you want something really badly, don’t give up until you’ve got it - The Champion’s Mind

State of mind and fitness coming into the race

It was a short runway of 5 weeks between TMM and NDM. Given this quick turnaround rest and recovery were of prime importance on the one hand as was getting in the key workouts on the other hand.

This time around the plan was also pretty demanding. Especially in the penultimate week prior to the race. Two weeks prior to the race on a long weekend run I twisted my ankle. There was a persistent swelling in the ankle right up to a few days before the race however that did not affect my running per-se though there was some irritation in the left ankle when I used to sit or stay stationary.

From a mental perspective, I had to put an indifferent performance at TMM-24 behind and looked forward to a strong finish to the season at NDM-24.

As a capable athlete, all you can do is train correctly and bring your best game to the race The Champion’s Mind

To summarize, I came into NDM with an open mind having adhered to the training process and having seen a fair share of reversals both on the physical and mental side of things.


This was a short but tough training block.

What worked for me?

  • High mileage (80-100km per week) through this period
  • Alternating Tempo Runs e.g. (3-km @30km effort, 6-km @marathon effort) *2 + 1-km @HM effort + 500-m @10km effort with 60 secs RI at progressively faster paces across the 3 week training period.
  • Progression runs e.g. (5km @marathon effort, 4km @30km effort, 3 km @HM effort, 2km @10km effort, 1km @5km effort, 500m @hard effort with 60 secs RI/ Jogging)

What didn’t work for me?

  • The AF3 is a good shoe but demands an equally good break-in. As a seasoned user of all 3 versions of this celebrated shoe I should have known better and used the AF2 rather than racing in the AF3.
  • The tune-up races were a disaster this time around - both Thump and Chennai. I need to choose my tune-up races in a wiser manner.
  • The penultimate weekend was a tough one with personal commitments. I bailed out of my long run on Saturday morning and then swapped my Tuesday workout (which I did on Sunday evening) with a 32km run. Essentially I did a 32 km progressive run on Tuesday i.e. 12 days before the key race
  • These 32 km long runs though seemingly innocuous were in themselves a challenge. They were structured in the following way; 10km @4:45/km, 60 secs walking recovery, 10km @4:40/km, 60 secs walking recovery, 10km @4:45/km, 60 secs walking recovery, 2km @4:30/km

By the time I reached the final 10km the workout would become challenging.

I usually do my long runs on Saturday but these workouts demand a rest day on Saturday before I attempted them on Sunday. I bailed out on the initial attempt on Saturday before re-attempting the same on Sunday on both efforts.

  • To achieve a sub 3:10 marathon I will have to run a 1:32 to 1:34 first Half so that I have a buffer even if I (inevitably) slow down in the second half. I have been struggling with this aspect of pacing in TMM and NDM both.


I reached Delhi on Friday and got done with the expo in the evening. Friday evening and Saturday afternoon were family time where I spent quality time over dinner and lunch with the mother’s side of my family.

Saturday morning, as is the ritual, I went out for a short shake-out jog on Lodhi road and alongside my running group Soles of Bangalore. I stuck to my routine of paying a visit to the Sai Baba temple and Rama temple in the first half of the day. Post lunch I retired to my room and spent time reading, relaxing and reflecting on the training block that preceded this race. Long story short, I was sufficiently rested coming into NDM-2024.

As mentioned earlier I was nursing a strained ankle and phantom discomfort started surfacing on Saturday especially post lunch as there was a lot of resting around and doing nothing. I iced it and applied some gel. Furthermore Somya - my strength and conditioning coach had suggested an anti-inflammatory tablet that I was taking in the week leading up to the race.

Race Day @ Start

I had a Maurten Solid-C 225 on Saturday afternoon as per their fueling guidelines. I woke up at 1:15 AM and had my usual mix (oats+pea protein+banana+seed mix+milk) with black coffee alongside my morning ablutions that included my spiritual practices and mobility drills both. Just before I left, I had a single slice with peanut butter.

Again, in line with the recommendation, I made a Maurten Drink Mix 320 which I poured into 2 250 ml bottles about 3 hours before the race. One of these bottles was consumed pre-race. The other bottle I carried with me for the initial section of the race.

Finally, during the race I consumed 7 Maurten gels at an interval of every 6kms i.e. 0,6,12,18,24,30 and 36 kms respectively. After the first 10km of the race, I relied on course hydration and water bottles that were available on the course.

Note on pre-race meals: I felt I discounted rice over roti in the days preceding the race, especially at Lunch the day before the race. I am not sure how much of an impact this had on the final outcome from this race.


As is the case with key races I had a pep-talk session with Ash the night before and he advised me to start conservatively and then build on this to pick up the pace in the later stages of the race. This sage counsel to exercise prudence was relevant given that in recent races I was blowing myself up after the halfway mark and also to ensure that we observe how the strained ankle behaves in the initial sections of the race. As per my goal of 3:09:XX, the entire race to be run in the range of 4:20 to 4:40min/km execution.

Actual vs. Target

I reached the holding area well in time and after finishing my warm-up and final loo visit, I made my way to the start area which was a pretty long walk. I started at the back of the pack and had to find my way around the crowd in the first KM.

The other mistake I made was to use the Alphafly Next%3 without sufficiently breaking into the shoes. I did one tempo run and a short shakeout jog in it before taking it into the race directly. I developed blisters on the right foot through the first half of the race. Fortunately the issue subsided after the first half of the race or should I say I broke into the pair by then.

As I crossed the HM mark the watch beeped 1:36:xx I had to re-adjust my target. I told myself anything better than 3:13:xx is what I should aim at.

I tried to regain lost ground in the next 8-9 km. I crossed some familiar co-travelers in the process. My aim was to stay between Anand E (from Soles) and Vrinda B (from Delhi) and try to push on the pedal in the later stages of the race.

However after 32km I started slowing down. I must thank Anand for the company he gave me in the last 10kms of this race. Thanks to him (and the familiar faces that cheered me from the opposite side) the fade in the last 10 kms was not as bad as it had been in previous races of the same distance. In fact I actually finished the race with a strong surge in the final KM.

As has been the case in the later part of this season, I think I lost the race at the halfway mark. I was not able to accelerate after that even though I tried. This has been the story of this season.

Key Stats

  • Overall Pace: 4:40 mins/km
  • Rank: 121 of 1505
  • Category Rank: 16 of 371
  • Gender Rank: 118 of 1310
  • Shoe: Nike AlphaFly Next%3

Strava Link

Official Race Result

What’s Next?

Two redeeming factors from this race

  • All my kilometer splits were under 5:00 mins pace. My worst split was 4:58 min/km.
  • The average Heart Rate throughout the race was around 170 bpm

This is one step forward and two steps back - Chicago I got a PB and a comfortable BQ, TMM & NDM have been two giant steps backward.

This is frankly ridiculous. Perfect weather, flat course and a good training block. The mind is in a good place. If all this and the experience gained from running 23 marathons over a decade will not get me a sub 3:10 I don’t really know what will get me there.

Accept & acknowledge whatever happens. Then let it go and focus forward with complete confidence. – The Champions Mind

Next set of races

  • TCS Bengaluru World 10K
  • Have applied for the ballot at New York City Marathon 2024


Kartik Iyer is a conversationalist, running geek, techie, marathoner, miles to go CrossFit junkie and bathroom Carnatic vocalist. He loves striking random conversations with people just about anywhere, music and anyting to do with tech and fitness, in no particular order. He can be reached at @kartikiyer2007 on Insta and on Strava

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