I don’t LOVE marathons.
I LOVE the feeling of accomplishment after having completed one, and the knowledge that I have well and truly earned it with all the hard training.
I LOVE the finisher T-shirts and especially the bling.
I love being able to eat All. Of. The. Things. afterwards (and beforehand!)
But you know what I DON’T love?
The long runs.
I’m currently training for marathon #6, and I have now done 7 x 36k training runs in various forms. And they NEVER get any easier!
I’ve tried different ways to get the ‘big one’ done.
In my first year (2014) I ran with the SARRC Sunday morning group. That was great as I was not yet in a place where I could contemplate doing such a long run on my own. Also, we were all gearing up for the Barossa Marathon (well, in my case the Liverpool Marathon but it was on the same day so the Barossa programme fit perfectly for me).
I didn’t do another marathon for 12 months. For some reason I decided not to run the 36k with the group that time, I ended up doing my own thing with one other runner, just to the beach and back. That was OK but we had a lengthy stop at the halfway point which meant I started getting cold and a bit stiff. The run back home was mostly uphill (just slightly) but on the plus side I had a can of Coke waiting for me in the fridge at home!
Then I did Gold Coast 6 weeks later. Being so close, I didn’t need to get back up to ‘peak’ distance again so thankfully no more 36k runs! (And I ran a PB at Gold Coast!)
Fast forward to Gold Coast 2016. Admittedly not my best ever preparation for a marathon – what with also trying to train for UTA100 and competing in the Australian Masters Athletics Championships. I did manage to get in 2 36k training runs, however.
The first was, due to a calculation error, actually 38k. It was a looped trail course, I thought it was 900m but it was actually 950. So my 40 laps turned out to be 38k. Bonus! (It was a trial for a proposed 6 and 12 hour event. It happened to fall 4 weeks before the marathon so, perfect timing for me! I just set out to run 36k, not for the full 6 hours)
The following week I went out and ran 36k for the first time on my own – running south 18k from North Haven and then back north again. Looking back now, I think it was way too fast for a long run, but it did lead to a new marathon PB and a Boston qualifying time so who knows? It wasn’t actually too terrible, I ran along the coast, as I now like to do for my long runs, as there are frequent water taps, and running on the coastal path means no stopping for traffic! (On the minus side though, plenty of dodging kids, dogs and bikes!). One mistake though. I had planned the start/finish at a kiosk at North Haven where I could get a post-run Coke, but alas, it being winter, the kiosk was closed by the time I got back! DEVASTATING! ‘No Coke for you!’
After Gold Coast it was quickly back to business to prepare for Adelaide Marathon, 6 weeks later, with good friend (and frequent appearer in this blog) Beck! Beck was happy to join me for a very similar run to my last 36 – only this time we started and finished at West Beach and started out running north.
This time around I’ve done 2 x 36k and 1 x 35k.
The 35k was another looped run, 16 laps of a 2.2k loop. Again very challenging mentally but I was lucky enough to have the company of Stephan for more than half of it (completely unplanned but very welcome!)
My first 36k this year was from home (out of necessity as my sister was borrowing my car, but it did help add a bit of variety as I rarely run around home), to the Uni Loop, a couple of big laps around North Adelaide and back home. I may or may not have stopped off at the bakery for a donut at the 21.1k mark!
This weekend just gone, I had planned on an early Sunday morning 36k but changed to Saturday afternoon to tie in with a planned dinner with one of the running groups. So I parked at the pub and ran from there! It was a warm, humid day. Rather than do the usual 18k south and 18k back, I decided to run north 5k and back, and then south 13k and back. Almost like breaking it into 2 runs. I think it did (sort of) help. I did also get to run beside the North Haven marina, uncharted territory for me, so that was a welcome distraction!
During the second part of the run, it was starting to get pretty hard so I bargained with myself, I told myself I could turn around at 20k if I wanted to, run back to the pub to make 30k, then back north 3k and back. A bit convoluted but still 36k! Then I told myself I’d turn around at the half marathon mark, and by then it was only another 2k before the planned turnaround so I kept going.
I managed to scrape in under 2 hours for the half marathon distance. That is always a goal of mine in the long runs, especially when I’m doing them on my own!
After the 21.1k I hit a bit of a wall and steadily dropped pace after that. My pace chart makes interesting viewing!
I managed to finish the run just under 3 and a half hours which was what I anticipated (although I was hoping to go quicker). It really was just a matter of ‘getting it done’ – it was definitely not one of my more enjoyable runs!
Then after a quick change I met the rest of the crew for a recovery meal and drink at the pub! First stop was the bar for a Coke!
And now it’s taper time – no more 36k training runs for a LONG time!
Until the next one.
3 weeks to Boston! BRING IT ON!