While most marathon training plans have you running a maximum of 20 miles in one run before the race, I want to get as close to the full distance as possible before the Brighton Marathon. With the Half Marathon in two weeks time, this meant I would only have time for one long run this month and then two next month before I start tapering for the full marathon in April.
As my last long run was 27K, this would mean an increase of 5K for each long run between now and April if I was going to reach 42.2K before the race – sounds crazy, I know!
So, knowing that this could be difficult, I decided to let myself off the hook a little bit and not worry about getting the full distance done. Even an increase of 3K for each long run would still take me closer than most marathon training programs, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I ended up running the full distance for the first time on race day. In saying that though, I still want to get as close as possible, so I decided that although my minimum distance for yesterday’s run would be 30K, I would still aim for 32K as long as I was feeling ok.
The weather was pretty good for once. The sun was shining, the temperature was reasonably mild and the wind was behaving itself on the seafront, so I decided to run east under the cliffs towards Saltdean, turn around and run all the way up to Shoreham Power Station and then back along the seafront to my starting point.
I wore my new hydration pack for the first time, which was great as it has a small pouch where I could keep my gels and keys, although it did take me a kilometre or so to figure out how to stop it bouncing around so much. The trick, it seems, is to keep it low on the hips rather than around the middle of the waist.
I took things fairly slowly, and my pace was pretty consistent for the most part. I took a gel every 8K, which kept me going, particularly towards the end of the run when I was beginning to flag. The lowest point was on the road to the power station at Shoreham, between 24 and 29K. My legs felt like lead and the walk breaks weren’t helping – in fact, the pain seemed worse when I slowed to a walk, but I knew that I had to keep my head straight and my mind focussed, so I kept plodding on.
Once I got back onto the promenade again, I started to feel much better. I knew that another 2 kilometres would take me back to Hove Lawns (my usual starting point) and, if I jogged back though the streets towards home, I could easily complete the 32K. It wasn’t hard. It hurt, yes, but as long as I took it slowly, I knew I could do it.
In the end, I completed the 32K in just under 4 hours. It hurt like hell, but I felt good. The IT band had behaved itself thanks to some mid-week stretching, and the milder weather probably helped too. But the most important thing was that I managed to stay positive and get the distance done.
In saying that though, I have to admit that I’m looking forward to not having to do another long one this month. For the next two weeks I’ll be getting myself ready for the Half Marathon, which will involve some shorter runs, a couple of speed sessions and hopefully a bit of a trail run next weekend.
How’s your training going? What’s the longest run you do before a marathon or half marathon? Please share your thoughts in the comments?