Long Runs Done!
Well, that's it. I've completed my programme of long runs before the Brighton Marathon in two weeks time. I'm pleased to finish them! How have they been?
I started my marathon training at the end of May with an 8 mile run. Not such a long run perhaps but that was my starting point. Running most Sundays, my mileage has increased over the last 12-13 weeks and, during this period, I finished ten runs of more than 10 miles. I ran my longest distance last weekend, 21 miles with an additional mile walk at the end. That took me just under 4 hours. Today was the final long run before the big day and I completed 17 miles in 2 hours 50 minutes.
I have tried to run each Sunday route at a pace of 10 minutes per mile because that's close to my 4 hours 30 minutes target time for the Brighton Marathon. And that's what my training plan said. Mostly, I achieved that and on my best days I was under the 10 minutes mark for each mile.
Running with a group is much easier and the time passes more quickly than solo running. I doubt if I would have completed the training if it wasn't for the Sunday groups organised by Horsham Joggers. Thank you!
Nutrition is a big thing. I've been running on a mix of gels, energy bakes, jelly babies and chewable energy sweets, and a carbohydrate and electrolyte powder mix. I have been trying to consume 200 - 250 calories every hour. No changes now before the race and nothing new on race day.
My "worst" run, or at least that's what I thought originally, was the 21-miler. It was a hilly route, I never felt in a good rhythm and I "struggled" (11 minute miles) during the last 4 miles. However, it was a good thing to run (once) for nearly 4 hours in training because that's what I will have to do - and more - on the day itself. I need to find a way to manage those last few miles better.
One thing I've been doing on some runs, near the end of each run, is talking to myself and smiling - I read it somewhere that smiling helps and it seems to help me. And I've been thinking about a couple of inspiring athletic moments that I've seen on YouTube (Dave Wottle and Steve Jones) in the final miles.
I'm confident that I can reach 18 miles near the 3 hour mark. At that point, my legs don't feel any fresher now than earlier runs but I recover quicker afterwards (that won't help me on the day of course!).
Will I finish?
There's more in my plan than the long runs and I've followed my 16-week training closely. But the long runs are key and I've completed those. Overall, I feel like I've given myself the best chance of finishing the 26.2 mile distance. Yet, it's my first marathon so the last 6-7 miles are rather unknown. I hope that the race day atmosphere will give me a big boost. See you on the other side.