A bit late I know but thought I'd come back and report how it went if anyone's interested...I always find it interesting to hear the end of people's stories.
Last few weeks of marathon training didn't go exactly as planned as I contracted a cold and missed my last long run. I thought it better to rest rather than risk making it worse. It didn't really affect my confidence but I did a bit of a taper 4 weeks out and then tried to pick it up again towards race day.
Felt great on race day and finished in 3:35:31. This was slower than my intended target of sub-3:30 but on reflection I'm satisfied with it. I was dead on target for the first 21 miles but just couldn't hold the pace for the last 5. The last couple of miles were REALLY tough.
Two weeks later I ran a half, finishing in 1:31:18, 40 seconds off my PB but beat my best time at that particular race by over 7 minutes.
Things I think I've learnt from this process.
-Start doing long runs earlier in my program. If I'd have started with a larger base I would have been more comfortable with the longer runs and therefore would have got more in.
-Cut back weeks. I'd read about these but stupidly didn't use them, instead lengthening long run distance three consecutive weeks, meaning I was tired and missed a long run mid way through altogether. Will structure my long runs better next time.
-More miles at race pace. I hadn't done too much running at race pace at all, so I think it was a bit of a shock trying to keep that pace for all those miles.
Thanks for all the input from various people, I really found the advice useful and motivating too - cheers! Definitely going to do a marathon again sometime.
Just checking in with an update. Ran the Kenilworth Half this morning, aiming to run at marathon pace (~8 min/miles) and ended up averaging 7:39 min/miles. It felt good but I was having to rein myself and hold back, aiming for the 8 min/miles, but it was difficult to slow down when my competitive instinct kicked in.
Any tips on how to run at a particular pace when it's slower than you feel ready for? Obviously towards the end of 26 miles the 8 min/miles may well be challenging but I don't want to overdo it in the first half and go too quick, leading to difficulties later on.
Interesting that you used the phrase 'not designed to run more...' I suffered a stress-fracture a couple of years ago and the consultant I saw at the hospital was absolutely useless and suggested that maybe I wasn't designed for running and should just stop...needless to say I now use that for motivation!
Thanks for all the advice guys, really appreciate it and things are a lot clearer in my head what to do for the last few weeks of training for this marathon, and a few ideas for next time too! I'll report back how I go in the half
I've not been doing mid-week runs no, I think that would be quite tough only running 3 x a week. Essentially I've been doing a weekend long run, a club speed session (either tempo or reps depending on what is on that week) and an easy 3 or 4 miler. Then I've been making up the cardiovascular with a couple of sessions on the static bike each week,
I'll look at adding in a midweek long run next time I run a marathon but don't think it would be a good idea starting now when I'm only five and half weeks from race day?
Taking it steady and running the half at marathon pace is definitely the plan I think, I have a bad habit of going off too fast (doesn't everyone!) so will have to rein myself and start slow.
Thanks for the responses. I'd heard about the 100 mile thing before, but just thought it was a bit of a generic figure to aim for. If I did 22 miles this weekend then my 5 longest runs would equal 96 miles...how much difference would that 4 miles make?
The MP running seems to make a lot of sense, I spoke to a guy at my running club last night and he suggested similar, or maybe even slightly quicker than MP for the half (7:45 pace rather than 8:00 pace) because then it would feel easier on race day. The plan you linked to Pete always has the MP running in the second half of the long run, is that so you're used to doing it when already tired?
I think I'm going to do another long run this weekend somewhere 20-22 miles, and see how I feel about putting some MP running into that, depending on how it goes on the day. Then it seems best to run the half at MP, after all I've been training for the marathon, not the half and I can always do another half sometime after the marathon to try and set a decent time off the back of the training.
PhilPub - you mentioned recovery taking longer...are you suggesting that only running 3 times a week might mean I recover slower than if I ran 4 or 5 times a week? I'd always stuck to 3 times because when I'd done more I'd started picking up problems, and figured this was because I wasn't recovering enough between runs. Have I misunderstood?