Here is what I did last week (total distance 55 km / 34 miles):
On Thursday I did a threshold run that began with a 10-minute warmup (easy run pace), followed by 3 repeats of 8 minutes at 7:00 to 7:30 mile pace with 2 minutes of rest (jogging pace) in between. I did this on the CIT track wearing my NB FuelCell Rebels. These are excellent for that 5K to 10K range when running at speed. However, on a wet track, I felt them slip a little, which dented my confidence in pushing off them. In future, I will stick to the NB Beacon V2 on wet days on the track.
On Friday I had another easy run of nearly 4 miles.
Then I made a snap decision based on how I felt and my plans for the following week. Rather than run my long run on the Sunday, I decided I would do it on the Saturday, giving me 8 days to recover for my final long run, the 20-miler.
For the 19-mile long run, I set my virtual pace runner to 5:45 per km (slightly slower than 4-hour marathon pace), but ended up at 5:39/km (9:05/mile), inside 4-hour marathon pace (about 3:58:00). I felt good and got stronger (and faster) from the 13th to 17th miles, with no real dip for the last 2 miles as I got back into the city and had to cross roads, etc.
What was really confidence-boosting was at 13.1 miles when I looked at the watch and saw I was only about a minute off the time I set for the half-marathon run I did 6 days prior and I still felt I had plenty left in the tank (obviously I had almost 6 miles left to run!).
One difference was nutrition. Up to this run I had used no gels, no electrolyte replacement drink, no nothing (I had even run for 2 hours 40 minutes with no water). I knew it was time to get my ass in gear to test my stomach and see if gels and electrolyte drink would help my endurance. I bought a number of High5 gels from wiggle.co.uk – variety packs with loads of flavours and types of gel. I decided to use caffeine gels at the beginning of the run and standard gels thereafter. I was worried my stomach wouldn’t like the caffeine, but I had no problems taking a caffeine gel every 20 minutes (4 of them in total), then another 3 non-caffeine gels after that. I also had a caffeine gel a few minutes before I started running, so that was 5 caffeine gels back to back, with no issues like stomach cramping or diarrhea. I did discover that I can tolerate the High5 Energy Gel Aqua (previously known as IsoGels) more than the thicker standard High5 Energy Gel. There is a 26g difference in weight per gel, and they are obviously bulkier. However, there is no doubt that I can tolerate the aqua gels more than the non-aqua gels, so it’s a trade-off I will gladly pay.
I used 2 High5 zero cal electrolyte tablets in 800ml of water and poured 600ml into the 3 bottles I carried with me (on my water belt). I was also carrying an Asics marathon bumbag/pouch thingy (it actually goes to the front) with all my gels in it – I prefer this to the gel belts with loops than can be very uncomfortable with the larger energy gel aquas.
For the race itself, I will be carrying 10 gels (660g weight to begin with) with me in my pouch to be consumed every 20 minutes. 7 will be caffeine aqua gels (these will probably be all citrus flavour), which I will use up first, then 3 standard aqua gels (probably orange flavour) in the front pocket for the final hour or thereabouts. I’ll also take a few electrolyte/magnesium tablet halves to drop into the 250ml bottles handed out on course. After the 19-mile run when I consumed 7 gels at 20-minute intervals (and hopefully to be confirmed by my upcoming 20-mile run), I am confident this will give me the best nutritional strategy. I will return to my race-day strategy in a later post.
Finally last week, I did a really slow 2.3-mile recovery run the day after the long run.
Plan for next week is to begin introducing more hilly runs. Clon is a very hilly marathon and I have run very little on hills so far. Then on Sunday will be that crucial 20-miler. Hopefully… I seem to have a slight head cold, but as long as it stays above the neck, I should still be good to go on Sunday.