Training for a marathon requires to go the distance – literally. While there are different ways to train for a marathon, pretty much every training method requires to put in long runs somewhere between 16-20 miles on average. My plan is kind of a hybrid between the Hanson Marathon method and a conventional marathon training plan. The biggest difference is that I am doing a boot camp style workout 5 days a week on top of my running.
The Hanson Marathon method requires certain types of speed work and tempo runs on top of the running. Their training plan also tops out at 16 miles for the longest long run. My boot camp style workout replaces some of the speed work that I would have to do otherwise. I do the tempo runs and also do easy pace runs, but since I never ran a marathon before I want to go beyond 16 miles for the long run. I want to experience the longer run and also build up my confidence level. I do not have the typical first timer goal of just finishing the marathon, I do want to make it in a decent amount of time.
So, today I ran over 20 miles for my long run and (fortunately) I have to say I still had some “fuel” left in the tank. I followed the Hanson Marathon Method and tried to run slow in an easy pace. Compared to my 14 miler from last weekend I succeed with that goal, but I was still faster than I should have been. But at this point in my training I am Ok with that. I averaged 10 minutes and 10 seconds per mile. If I compare this to my first 2 training long runs (14 miles and 17 miles) it shows a minor improvement in performance which is good. Compared to my 3rd long run (14 miles) I was about 30 seconds slower per mile, but when I finished that run last weekend my legs were done. I recovered fast, but at the end of 14 miles the legs were tired. Today was different as mentioned. Here are the splits for today’s run as well as the elevation chart. Look at the hills from mile #13 to mile #17 – while it was hard work I was actually smiling my way up. I am not a fan of running up hills, but this is awesome training and builds up strength (Click on images to enlarge).
Look at the splits one more time. The fastest lap times were towards the end.
I do have about 2 months left for my training. This will allow me to do several longer runs and to build up endurance. This should result in a) having enough strength for 26.2 miles and b) to further drop my average pace time per mile. My main goal is 10 minutes flat for the mile, but I think there might be room to go even lower. I still have the unadvertised advantage of living and training at almost 6,000 feet and to have hilly terrain. Theoretically this should translate into better performance when heading out to Las Vegas, but I am willing to really consider this an advantage just yet. I will be in California for a week in October and I will put this thought to the test and see how I perform at sea level. Las Vegas is at about 2,000 ft. altitude, so it will not be a 1:1 test, but it should give me an idea of what to expect.
I am very happy with today’s outcome. I never ran 20+ miles before and I had some decent respect for this distance, but now I can “see” the finish line in the distance. I really know I can make it and now I can work on building up endurance and speed.