All sorts of theories about how long your longest run should be in your marathon training and 20 miles looks about the normal maximum. Very very few plans suggest running the full 26.2 miles – at least the plans for the non-professional athletes out there. I’ve never quite understood why, and surely it’s more about you knowing what your body can do and how much recovery you need. There’s nothing magical that happens when you cross the 26 miles barrier, and it’s about training your body to cope when you hit the wall and its physiological challenges.
I did a few 20 milers back in my training in 2009 and one 22 miler. This time round, I wanted to go a bit further – in terms of max. distance – and do less of the long long runs. Last time round the difference between the longest training run and the actual marathon was huge – both in terms of doing the run, the physical and mental effort to finish and the recovery period. I’m convinced it was starting off too fast, getting caught up in the buzz at the start, and then hitting the wall at about 18 miles. Not fun.
So the plan was for 23 miles early this last Saturday morning. Up at 7am, breakfast and even a small coffee (something I never do before running normally) and out for 8am, and at planned pace of 8:30 to 9:00 minutes per mile. Good starting pace and managed to hold it for 10 or so miles, before slowing down slightly. Great route as well – up past Hampton Court Bridge and up the tow path – it just goes on and on. A bit of rain on the way and no rainproof gear on so got wet.
This is how far 23 miles is…
Good old Garmin battery warning came up just after starting and then it died completely just 0.6 miles from the finish. Rubbish. Very frustrating as it normally warns you several times that it’s running out. A lesson learnt though – make sure it’s fully charged before the long long runs.
The breakfast coffee shot had an effect and I had to have a little stop on route. But maybe a small coffee could work on marathon day – breakfast normally 2+ hours before, so plenty of time for stops before. And took an energy drink on the run this time and had a drink every couple of miles ish from about 6 miles in.
The results? A good finish – even managed to pick up slightly for the last mile and then a nice strong finish for the last 1/4 mile. Pace about 10% slower than planned marathon pace – which is bang on target. More energy drinks and some bananas when I got in, and stretching. Managed karate training on Sunday morning and legs working fine. Now 2 days after and all good. The training plan looks like it’s working.
More fast runs and interval training this week with one 1/2 marathon somewhere (and looking for sub-100 minutes this time).