Marathon Pace:

I got up this morning and ran 19 miles. It kicked off immediately with a celebrity spot as Richard Bacon jogged past me! I wonder if he has any old Blue Peter badges knocking around? He deserved one with the pace he was running at. He’s probably Ebayed the lot of them though.

This was my biggest run so far in training (and ever) and the first 2 hours went really well. I thought I’d try out chomping on some jelly beans as I ran today to give me a bit of a boost in the latter stages. At each hour mark I had about three. I’ve never eaten them before while training and really had no idea of the amount you’re supposed to eat but I didn’t really get much from them. Maybe three isn’t enough but I have to be careful with my sugar intake, being diabetic.

I ran from Blackheath to the O2 dome and then back through Greenwich to Canary Wharf. From there I ventured into Central London and ran over Tower Bridge. After I hit Waterloo Bridge (after running along the embankment) I was making fairly decent time. I didn’t set out to break the land speed record but I thought I’d give it a good go. However, after 2 and a half hours of running, I hit a spell of extreme tiredness.

Jelly bean fun...

The previous Saturday I ran for 2 and a half hours and couldn’t go on any more. I blamed this on not preparing well enough. For breakfast I’d had a boiled egg, no water and didn’t go for a pee. So by the time I got back I was dying of thirst, bursting for the loo and my blood sugar was so low that I was almost experiencing those hallucinations I mentioned in ‘The wall‘ post. But this week I’d had a hearty breakfast, hydrated well and had my magic beans so I should have been fine.

I know this is my first marathon event but I really want to do it well. Apart from a 6-year spell when I smoked, did no exercise and ate what I want (ah University – leaving home never felt so good), I’ve always considered myself to have a pretty good base-level of fitness. I’m not sure why I so desperately want to complete the FLM in under 4 hours but now I’m not so sure I’ll be able to complete it in under 5!

Today, after 2 and a half hours, the same thing happened. My legs tensed up, my pace slowed and at any slope I ground to a halt (and by any slope I really do mean any slope – stepping up on to the pavement was agony!). With a bit of will power I stopped myself from walking and continued to jog, but my 19-miler took me 3 hours and 20 minutes! Miles off the pace.

My worry is that I’m not training enough. Here is the guide I used before I picked my training plan:

“Who is this plan for? You are already a runner, you have been running for a minimum of several months, you have probably completed a 10k or half marathon event, you are currently comfortable with training for approximately 4-5 hours per week, you may have already completed a marathon and are looking to improve your time.”

That suits me perfectly but I’ve noticed something. My training plan sets your daily targets in minutes run, not miles.

Essentially, I could have been following this plan to the exact detail and have never really exerted myself! That’s a harsh reality to face, given that there’s only 5 weeks of training left so today has been a tough day (and not just because I can hardly move).

Runners World Pace Guide

There are two points that I can console myself with and relieve a bit of pressure.

  1. Running through central London is the worst. Constantly stopping and starting to make room for traffic, STUPID bloody tourists and ignorant men with a dog on a leash is a pain. Getting back up to speed after you’ve been running for three hours and had to stop is unbelievably hard.
  2. It was bloody hot today.

It might be time to start finding out my split times. I have one more long run to do before tapering down in preparation for the main event. Lets see if I can break 9-minute miles and still have enough at the end. Visit Runner’s World for a great pace band that you can print off, cut out and wear on race day. Mine’s on the right.

4 Responses to “Marathon Pace:”

  • Hi congrats on 19 miles – we are doing 18 miles next Saturday and hope we can manage it.

    Today we did 15 miles which is the longest run of our lives!

    We hope to break 5 hours on the big day and that will be good enough.

    We have stuck religiously to a training plan and we are on schedule – feels great to have achieved 15 miles – the thought of another 11 on top of that is scary!

    I’m told the spectators on the day carry you for the last three or four miles – I hope so!

  • Well done on 19 miles: more than I’ve managed in training so far.
    On the traffic problems you had, although the roads are cleared for us on marathon day, the problems are not eradicated, so be prepared. One’s fellow runners make it hard work, especially on the first couple of miles, when the volume of runners forces walking pace or even a bit of standing still on Shooters Hill. Towards the end, when I am focussed on nothing but the blue line in the road that shows the shortest distance home, I find people who have broken down walking slowly along that line, prompting some very uncharitable and unsporting thoughts. But I could be one of them one day…
    Trevor is right: the crowds will help no end, though.

  • Dan:

    Interesting post and comments. I have re:amended my goal after the Silverstone 1/2 marathon to four hours as my goal and I think I am just about on that limit and it will all come down to the last four miles at the end. However, I am now fully convinced of the truth that it is the last 6 miles that make the marathon & your time, not the first 6.

    So I am planning 9 minutes miles as standard for the first 1/2, then tick over until 18 to 20, and depending on legs, crowds, and energy levels, either (hopefully!) stick at 9 to come in a 3.57, give or take, or kick on and hope the crowds can drag me to a 3.50.

    But the main thing is to start slow and build up. I reckon if you can get the first half in two hours, you might make it, but they do say likely time is first half x 2 + 20 minutes. So maybe even sticking at 9minutes isn’t enough. However, I intend to go at that four hour mark like my 6 months of training depends on it, but only once we get to 20 miles.

    This is a massively long winded way of saying, go for it!

  • […] months and doing absolutely no speed or interval training whatsoever. And when I ran a 19-miler on March 21st 2009 in 3:20:00 and realised that a 4-hour marathon wasn’t going to be achievable, I was bitterly […]

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