Long Runs Done!

by Clive Walker in Life

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.

Lessons learned

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.

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