Today was my first big test for October's Munich Marathon, which I passed with flying colors. It was my first really super long run. Two and a half hours is a long time to run, but the marathon will be just over four. I had done very well on my recent runs of 2:00 and 2:10. But two hours is the longest distance that I run in training to prepare for a half-marathon. Now it's time to do truly long runs to get ready for Munich.
I am a very old school runner. While running magazine and websites promote a lot of "Zero to Marathon in 12 Weeks" programs as the latest thing, I cannot follow them. First of all, my knees would never forgive me. I have tendinitis in my knees. As long as I build my mileage slowly, my knees don't bother me. But if I build mileage quickly, which those training programs tend to do, my knees would protest. Secondly, quickie marathon training programs only have one or two very long runs. I believe that the best way to prepare my body for the rigors of a marathon is to do a lot of long runs. With more long runs, there are more opportunities to figure out what works and what doesn't. When race day rolls around, I will be ready to go out and do my best.
My late running partner Bill used to tell me to analyze both my training runs and races to learn from what went right and wrong. Here's my analysis of today's run.
* The weather was perfect for a run. It was about 10 C (50 F) and overcast when I set out at about 10 this morning. I wanted to go earlier, but it was raining hard. I gave myself until 10 to either run or shower and try instead for a long run tomorrow. The temperature was not a typo, nor is Garmisch in the Southern Hemisphere. Summers here are typically hot, sunny days followed by a week of cool, rainy ones.
* I started off very slowly and ran a negative split coming back. It's not really fair to say that I ran a negative split because the route I run has a slight uphill grade going out and is downhill coming back.
* This was the first run where I didn't stop my watch during my refueling breaks. I walked while I drank my diluted Gatorade and ate my Gummi Bears. The walking was on purpose. It's time to start simulating the experience of walking through the water stops during the marathon.
* I made it home running and only walked during my refueling breaks every 30 minutes.
* My legs weren't as sore as I thought they would be. After I was home, my husband and I took a couple of short walks, which helped to alleviate the stiffness. As I write this post, I'm feeling pretty good.
THE NOT SO GOOD
* I went too fast during the second hour, especially between 90 and 120 minutes. I had a real burst of energy at around the 90 minute mark and went with it. Big mistake. If I did something like that at the 90 minute mark in the marathon, I would not make it to the finish line. When I took my refueling break at 2 hours, it was a real struggle to run back home. This is where my mental toughness came in and got me home, so it wasn't all bad. I'll know next week, when I run for 2:45, to hold myself back. It's better to make mistakes like that in training than during the race.
* There was too big a gap between when I finished breakfast and when I finally got out to run. It would have been okay for a shorter run, but it didn't work out on today's very long run. Even though I had my Gummi Bears and Gatorade, they didn't cut the hunger. The next time I have to wait out rain, I'll have some toast or a Power Bar before setting out.
* No wildlife. Last Friday I saw a fox for the first time in Garmisch. I used to see lots of foxes, deer, and even wild boar in the woods when I lived in Parsberg. Here I mainly see squirrels. But I did hear the song, "Fox on the Run" on my iPod today, though it would have been more fitting on Friday.
Next week I should make it to the Austrian border, or very close to it. Today I was within a kilometer of Griesen, which is a village on the German-Austrian border. The official border is just past Griesen.
All in all, I'm feeling very confident about Munich. This is the first time in five years that I haven't had any nagging aches and pains that prevented me from running a marathon. I'm feeling both physically and mentally ready for the next two and a half months of very long runs and for the race.