Yesterday was my last beast of a long run before the Paris Marathon, and it was my longest ever training run – 23 miles! Training for marathon number 2 has been, seemingly, much easier than the first time around, and despite starting off with a bit of an injury, and managing to bag only 1-3 runs a week, I’m feeling stronger and more confident than I was four weeks before Loch Ness. Maybe it’s because I’m not stressing out about it as much (since I know now that even if I feel horrendous from mile 9, I CAN finish a marathon). Maybe it’s because I haven’t been killing myself as much during the week with monster ‘mid-distance’ runs at a faster pace than necessary. Maybe it’s because I have been more consistent with gradually upping my long runs, and including adequate drop-down weeks (bliss, by the way).
Just for comparison, here are my ‘long runs’ from Loch Ness next to my long runs (and expected runs over the next few weeks) for Paris:
Loch Ness: 16 7 10 16 13 18 5 20 17.5 13 10 13 9 26.2
Paris: 10.5 15 17.5 13 19 16.5 21 10 23 13 13 8 26.2
I mean, I’m no expert, but my Paris plan looks WAY better than my haphazard approach to training for Loch Ness.
The other thing I have been sensible about is sticking to a steady pace for all of my long runs. Instead of starting out thinking ‘I’ll slow down when I get tired’, and looking down at my Garmin to see I was running 8:xx minute miles, I have dialled WAY back, and now aim to average 10 minute miles throughout. I realize this is a practically geriatric pace for some of you speed demons, but I’m still trying to get rid of a stubborn ten pounds I put on after surgery a couple of years ago (but I’ve lost the other 20 – seriously, not being able to work out is not fun), and I am also still finding my marathon feet, so just finishing kind of gives me a semi.
Anyway, what I have noticed with these slower runs is that I don’t feel completely disgusting after 13 miles, and I have even managed to run 21 miles non-stop! In fact, yesterday’s 23 would have been non-stop, but being a bit of a dick and not really eating much for breakfast meant I had to stop for some hula hoops and orange juice, and I opted to walk while I was eating because it was freezing, and standing still would have resulted in the loss of my extremities. In fact, I have felt so strong that during both my 20+ milers, the thought of going that extra 3/5 miles did not reduce me to tears or make me question my sanity. It felt achievable, and I was even tempted to just go for it, before my various running companions rather aggressively urged me to not do that because we all just wanted our now traditional post run hot chocolate.
Admittedly, I was feeling fatigued at the end of the long runs, and I have adopted a new mantra of ‘fuck you cars’ which I repeatedly
murmur in my head grunt aloud whilst crossing a street brazenly in front of drivers, because stopping and starting is a complete bitch when you’re half a mile away from finishing, and people in cars can just fucking wait. I did also run into a bus stop near the end of yesterday’s run because I genuinely did not notice it thanks to minor delirium. But considering the 21 and 23 mile runs, had I continued at the same pace, would have both been faster than my time at Loch Ness, I am stoked. I mean, I wasn’t even (that) angry when I got home yesterday afternoon and the sun decided to come out despite playing a very successful game of hide and seek all morning:
I am also stoked that I will be back on the medal-collecting train next weekend, as I have the Inverness half marathon (which is officially my nemesis after last year, and I am in two minds about whether or not to race it), and the following weekend is the Garioch half marathon, which I dread thanks to my hilly-as-fuck experience at the 10k last year. But since this is a relatively positive post, I’ll end on a high. I am beyond ecstatic that I ditched the gym yesterday and got in my long run instead, because this morning? Well, THIS is what I was greeted with when I drew back my bedroom curtains: