A longer long run

4th March 2020

I thought I’d drop in a brief midweek update as I have just completed a significant long run and my perspective on the marathon has shifted slightly (for the better). However, I do continue to have questions about my preparations and the advice I’m repeatedly given by experts and friends alike. 

First the run. From my new office near St Pancras it was a 16 mile schlep to get home. That would be following the most direct route Google Maps could provide and when I tried that last time I found myself in places I wouldn’t normally dream of walking round after dark. To avoid that I stuck to main roads which added a little to the distance but meant I didn’t need to keep looking over my shoulder. I still managed to lose my way a couple of times and I needed to regularly pause to visually check the map so that I kept to the right path. The verbal instructions do not always work without the map to follow; ‘Head North-West on Lewisham High Street’ isn’t that helpful when you can’t see any street signs and have no clue which way is north.

The run itself was a mixed bag. Leaving the office soon after five I was faced with considerable foot traffic though Holborn and Waterloo plus many, many junctions to navigate. Once I got to Elephant & Castle there was, theoretically, only three roads left to navigate for the remaining 20km but still the going was heavy with pedestrians. Once I was on the Old Kent Road, somewhere near Deptford, I was able to find a good, regular pace for several kilometres and I felt strong and well set. Navigation was tricky through Lewisham and Catford and I lost my momentum somewhat trying to keep to the route but once past was on familiar ground and able to settle back into a routine. I took on a gel pack after about 12km, I’m not convinced about these but they don’t seem to do any harm either so will stick with it. There was a long, steep hill at around 15km and I resorted to walking after about halfway. At about 19km I felt very hungry so I slammed my stock of Jelly Babies. These had more impact than the gel, removing the hunger and providing a slight sugar rush to carry me on further. By 22km I was feeling very tired and walked for a few hundred metres, I then picked up again and ran a while longer before the final hill, a mile or so from home, forced me to walk again. I ran/walked the final thousand metres before arriving home with incredibly drained legs that even 30 minutes of stretching and roller work didn’t fix. Over three hours of running and a new distance record, the following day I could feel every single one of those miles in my legs.

So, the positives. The increase in distance was very encouraging. Although I was incredibly tired by the end it was no worse than when I had run home before Christmas on a route a good couple of miles shorter. I am now within a parkrun of the longest run the training plan requires. The busy, urban route made it very difficult to find a settled pace over the first half of the run but there were plenty of stretches where I could settle in and there I found a good pace. Following this run I am now a lot more confident in my ability to finish the marathon, even if I do find myself run/walking several miles of it. My knee wasn’t a problem during the run, in fact I don’t recall any worrying niggles. I don’t know if it hurts today, if it is it’s completely drowned out by my aching thighs. Another positive, and something that had concerned me from the start, was that I didn’t get bored at all, despite running for so long. Partly this was the concentration required to navigate home but equally even on the familiar sections it never became a factor in the way it has in the past.

On to the negatives. There aren’t any really, not from the run itself anyway. I was completely shot by the end, but then I would expect to be having run further than I had ever run before. And this is my concern; every time I run a little further it hurts like hell and is a real struggle so why does every training plan, and friend I speak to, say to only train to 80% of the distance? The last 20% is much harder than the first 20%. My longest run is supposed to be 20 miles but that leaves me 6 miles still to go and I have never made up that big a gap in one go, why is it right to do so on race day? I really don’t get it.

Distance covered 27km

I made a list of milestones early on in my training and it is probably time to revisit again, now that I’ve made some more progress.

15k – DONE – 29th October 2019

10 Mile – DONE – 5th November 2019

10 Mile Race – Never did find an event

20k – DONE – 20th November 2019

13.1 Mile – DONE – 20th November 2019

13.1 Mile Race – DONE – 8th Feb 2020

25k  – DONE – 3rd March 2020

3 Hour Run  – DONE – 3rd March 2020

30k – Target 2020

20 Mile – Target 2020

20 Mile Race – Target 2020 (not sure I’m going to find such an event)

4 Hour Run – Target 2020

26.2 Mile – Target 2020

Wednesday will very much be a rest day this week although I will try some home-brew yoga to ease my legs. I would normally run on Thursday evening and aim to do so again this week, although I will probably avoid hill work this time.

2 thoughts on “A longer long run

  1. Bravo.
    I also thought it seemed odd having a longest run of ‘only’ 20 miles but I think endurance for 20 miles is enough for 26 – and the excitement of the event, the support of the crowd and the camaraderie of fellow runners is generally enough to pull people through those last 6 (when the mental side seems to come to the fore). You can train further but risk of injury increases.

    Liked by 1 person

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