Dan/SL - Thanks for the reminder, I'll be following with interest.
RB - Congrats! (I think!) Better start getting some miles in, eh?
Happy birthday CD!
Does anyone measure their perceived effort by breathing pattern? I think mine's changed gradually, presumably as I've got fitter, as I tend to change from a 2/2 (steps breathing in/out) to 2/1 earlier during a race but manage to sustain heavier breathing for longer. (Or maybe my lungs have got weaker?! Doubt it...) Anyway, I was aware of this today as I repeated last Thursday's tempo-lite run, i.e. a moderate intensity effort to save myself for XC on Saturday. I managed the same pace as last week, 5:46/m for an extra mile, 5 rather than 4, and managed to maintain 2/2 breathing all the way. (9 miles total.) I'll continue to do this as a check on perceived effort as marathon training proper starts, because for me it corresponds reasonably well to a distinction between ~MP vs. threshold intensity or quicker.
TR - Good luck getting back to it. A few weeks of consistent consistency should get some potatoes back in your toothpaste tube.
OO - Welcome back! Get some dune running done in GC.
ES - Solid time, and a PB waiting for a quick course.
More XC fun at the weekend. Sort of mini-tapered with a 4M tempo run on Thursday, then Saturday was the Kent Vets' champs around a mainly flat field in Dartford, just the odd sharp slope to break up the rhythm, but a fast, firm course. Main aim was to challenge for a medal, i.e. at least one place better than last year. Our best guy was a likely contender despite being far from fully fit due to recent injury, and there was a new just-turned-40 whippersnapper who beat me for victory in a 5k last year.
For the first half mile or so there was a lead group of at least 6 well packed, but as things thinned out, these two guys ran together at the front, I kept them in my sights and steadily built a bit of a gap to 4th/5th behind me (including a former national XC silver medalist.) I managed to stay in touch most of the way round and the gap was only about 5 seconds well into the second half of the race, but on the final lap of four they wound things up a bit, and I resigned myself to staying strong enough to hold on to third place. My club mate was pipped on the line by the other guy who had spent 90% of the race sitting on his shoulder, I ended up 23 seconds clear of fourth, and we defended our team title (four to score). 5:34/m for 5.5 miles, one of my faster XC paces. Very pleased with the race, and looking forward to the Southern Vets' XC next week, although the competition will be a bit stiffer. A very pleasant 15 miles yesterday through the woods.
I think there's a danger of overthinking the specifics. At the end of the day, the key challenge is still to have enough endurance to be able to run (and/or walk) a bloody long way, so I reckon a good proportion of your training can be exactly the same as for a "normal" marathon, but liberally sprinkled with some terrain-specific sessions.
When I trained for the Beachy Head Marathon (3,500ft ascent I think, so not quite as harcore!) I made roughly half my long runs off-road and hilly. The longest run was 23 miles with the last 6 miles (before warm-down) being effectively a hill-repeat session stuck on the end. Then I substituted a hilly fartlek in place of my usual MP/tempo run mid-week, maybe every other week. Generally 10-12 miles total, running easy on the flat, hard up each hill and recovery jog down, repeat...