Help! I'm Stuck. (Read 5104 times)

    Not quite sure what the justification is for all the sarcasm. I made a general statement that 20 plus mile long runs are more beneficial than those under 20 miles.
    Nobby pretty much covered it:
    The argument whether 19-miles is not long enough and it HAS to be beyond 20 (only a mile difference!?) is nothing but comical to me. I think this kind of rigid thinking would lead to more harm to beginning runners than more free-spirited "listen to your body" type of approach.
    You didn't just make a general statement, you clarified it in response to Nobby that yes, in fact, you are serious that 20, not 19 miles is the critical number. That begged for sarcasm. Sorry.
    Do you have anything of a constructive nature to offer the OP, or are you are content just playing the critic?
    Sure. runningwild, you're doing great. Feeling a little dead-legged during marathon training is pretty normal especailly the day after a long run. Tanya and Nobby are wise. Listen to them.

    Runners run.

      Wow. Runningwild: I'm gonna stand by my original suggestion that 20 plus mile long runs are more beneficial than long runs that are less than 20 miles. Even Knobby noticed and pointed out your difficulty with the 21 miler vs. the 19 miler. The likely reason for this, even though it is only another two miles, is that at 21 miles you were nearing the point of glycogen depletion and at 19 miles you likely were not. Every time you push the limit of glycogen depletion your body responds by using more fat the next time you run which pushes this "wall" farther into the run. The idea of these longer runs is to push the point of glycogen depletion beyond 26.2 so you don't have to deal with it in the race. I also favor the 20 plus mile runs for the psychological boost they give you. There is most definitely a mental "wall" that you'll need to break through before you can successfully complete a marathon and it's a huge boost in confidence to break through that wall during training rather than tackle it for the first time in the race. For me, that wall was 20 miles, which I guess does make it a "critical number" as MikeyMike put it. Your tentative schedule looks good. As I said before, be sure to take your taper seriously. It may help to consult a few training programs to get a good idea of what's involved. Give the carb loading a try as well. I did it before my longer runs and the marathon itself and it helped a lot. Good luck. Tom
        If I remember it correctly, what you're explaining, transition from sugar fuel metabolism to fat burning metablism, occurs somewhere between 1:30 and 2:00 into the exercise at a certain level of intensity (I'm tempted to say approximately 70% of VO2Max), not any set number of distance. In other words, slower runner might reach there at about 12 miles; faster runner might get there into 18 miles. In fact, if fat burning metablism is so important, which it is, if you do the run very slowly, you'll stay there most of the time. The argument whether 19-miles is not long enough and it HAS to be beyond 20 (only a mile difference!?) is nothing but comical to me. I think this kind of rigid thinking would lead to more harm to beginning runners than more free-spirited "listen to your body" type of approach. This "3 X 20-miler" approach is a typical example; if you CAN do 3 X 20-milers and you're fit enough to do them, yeah, surely you should be able to run a marathon. But, c'mon, how many beginners you think take that as a gospel and try to work that goal, all of a sudden, running three 20-milers has become the goal itself and by the time they toe the starting line of the marathon, they're completely "stuffed".
        I guess I'd have to repeat what I've said... I don't mean to throw names but... I just talked to Rod Dixon this afternoon (just in case not too many people remember who he is; he won NYC marathon in a dramatic come-from-behind fashion in 1983). His daughter is running her first marathon early next year, I believe... He said she was going to follow one of those cookie-cutter program with four 20-milers. He threw 3 of them out and left only one 20-miler. "I told her to have one half marathon at her best half marathon effort; that would be equal to doing another long run because the effort is higher," he said. He left a couple of 18s, a couple of 16s... "I totally agree with you," he assured me, "far too many people (beginners) are too 'stuffed' by the time they get to the starting line." I had a clinic with Rod last year in Victoria. We were talking about a long run and he said, when he was training as a middle distance runner (he won the Olympic bronze medal in 1500m in 1972), he used to go out for a 3-hour run... "I didn't know you ran that much," I asked him later. "Oh, but it was such a hilly terrain, I only ran about 12~15 miles..." Now, here's another factor in the equasion. The number in distance means nothing. My wife never cared too much about improving her performance. She was quite content to run sub-4 marathons. There was a period when she thought she knew and went out and did her own program. I'm happy (well, sorta...) to say, she never went over 4-hours when I helped her out! ;o) Her PR is about 3:45 about 2 years ago. She never went over 20 miles, not even once in training (I don't think...); while her buddies in the training group would go out and try to do (in)famous 3 X 20-milers and running somewhere around 4:20. The young middle distance girl I'm coaching, she ran her first marathon 2 years ago. Before we started working together, her longest run was 10-mile. We worked together for 4 months during which time she gradually increased her long run to, once again, 3-hours. It might have flirt close to 20-miles but we wouldn't know. That was that one time only, though. She went out and did 3:41 for her first try. There's this another young lady I started working with a few months ago. She has run a couple of 3:40s while trying 3 X 20-milers. This time around, she did one 3-hour (boarder-lining 20) last weekend. We'll see how she would do in 3 weeks time (TCM) but I'm predicting 3:32 (PR). She ran City of Lakes 25k and set her half marathon PR en route (1:38). Figbash: everything you're saying is actually correct. 20-milers are better than distances shorter than that--it will teach your body to go through some uncomfortable physiological changed that occur during the marathon. I myself thrash my old budy over a hilly 2-hour course just about every weekend. But we are talking about people who feel great about running 8-minute pace (which IS a fairly good feat!), never even tried "training" twice a day or more than 5 times a week. If some beginner try to do 20-milers and absolutely trash themselves, then they are "straining" instead of training; they are breaking down instead of building up. Our goal is to run well; not to do 3 X 20-milers. So far, though very much limited number, people I've actually worked with to run a marathon, there had never been anybody who didn't break 4-hour mark. If you're training harder yet the time is slower, which my wife had found out with a lot of her training buddies, there's something wrong, wouldn't you think?


        Lia's Daddy

          Now, I went back and took a look at your log (so this is why they have the log available, huh...?); what concerns me actually is your inconsistency. You did the last "long" run of 19 miles in 3:01. A good solid run. But a month ago you did 21 miles in 3:41. So you ran the difference, 2 miles, in 40 minutes??? What happened? And you need to figure that out. Did you slow down a lot, did you start out too fast, did you pack up miles leading up to this 21-miles??? To argue Figbash again, there are some people who actually use up stamina as they do long runs. These are people who are probably better off doing some 1:30~2:00 runs and nothing longer.
          OK, So I'll come clean on the difference between the two 19 milers. 13.1 miles on saturday was part of the local half marathon. I wanted to run it this year because I ran it last year and had so much fun. I was planning on running it as just a supported training run. I got a little carried away and ran faster than I normally would have for a training run of that distance. I was a little embarrassed because I know that it was not the best idea. The funny thing was that I ended up running to the race with a woman who was doing the same thing in preparation for the Richmond Marathon. I ended up running at about a 9:30 pace for the entire run. Anyway, there is the difference in my times. I really appreciate all the advice. I think I will definitely adjust my training schedule so that I will do my last long run three weeks from the race. I also have not experimented with any gels so I want to experience that during the "dress rehearsal" as well. btw- I did 7.5 tonight and the legs felt great!
          "Stadiums are for spectators. We runners have nature and that is much better." Juha "the Cruel" Väätäinen
            in my opinion, far too many people are especially by trying to stick with this bogus "3 X 20-miler" idea. This "3 X 20-miler" approach is a typical example; if you CAN do 3 X 20-milers and you're fit enough to do them, yeah, surely you should be able to run a marathon. But, c'mon, how many beginners you think take that as a gospel and try to work that goal, all of a sudden, running three 20-milers has become the goal itself and by the time they toe the starting line of the marathon, they're completely "stuffed". Some might even go as far to say "You need to go throught 26-miles to prepare for the marathon..." Well, I'm curious to see how many of those people actually do the 26-mile training run better than the actual marathon...???
            Darn I wish I read this 10 weeks ago. In the last 10 weeks I've went 21, 25, 26, 30km race, 26, hm race, 22. My race is on the 28th, I AM SO SCREWED Shocked

            "The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling." - Lucretius

              I also have not experimented with any gels so I want to experience that during the "dress rehearsal" as well.
              Runningwild: Yes! Definitely, by all means, try whatever the gel you're planing on using. I'm actually against using those energy gel duirng the long training runs except for one long race (half marathon or 25k) and the final long run (dress rehearsal). You need to see if it's compatible with your stomach plus see how you take it while running. My wife tried GU but she didn't like any other flavor but raspberry. You need to find that out. You'll also need to find out how you carry them and how many of them. No joke; I've heard of a guy who carried too many of them and his shorts started to slide down during the race! ;o)
                Darn I wish I read this 10 weeks ago. In the last 10 weeks I've went 21, 25, 26, 30km race, 26, hm race, 22. My race is on the 28th, I AM SO SCREWED Shocked
                You know, if you need a help listing a half a dozen or more runners actually performing well by training 20+ miles every weekend, I can help you with it easily. If you are totally happy with running 4+ hours every other week and then go out and run a 4:30 or 5-hour marathon and be totally content, all the power to you. I've been critisized by a 5:30 marathoner who insisted doing 4+ hour run every other week. I'll just go on helping others who would run sub-4 marathons by training smarter.
                  You know, if you need a help listing a half a dozen or more runners actually performing well by training 20+ miles every weekend, I can help you with it easily. If you are totally happy with running 4+ hours every other week and then go out and run a 4:30 or 5-hour marathon and be totally content, all the power to you. I've been critisized by a 5:30 marathoner who insisted doing 4+ hour run every other week. I'll just go on helping others who would run sub-4 marathons by training smarter.
                  ??, I don't get it, I admitted I was screwed???

                  "The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling." - Lucretius

                    ??, I don't get it, I admitted I was screwed???
                    Oh, sorry. I thought you were being sarcastic! ;o) My apology. You still have a week; rest up (but still continue to jog). Just curious; so how come you actually did your 30k faster (pace wise) than the half? Actually, with your base, if you do some hills (specific hill exercises, not just running over hilly courses) and do the taper well, you'll probably break 4-hours in no time. Just my opnion...
                      Darn I wish I read this 10 weeks ago. In the last 10 weeks I've went 21, 25, 26, 30km race, 26, hm race, 22. My race is on the 28th, I AM SO SCREWED Shocked
                      No. Put that thought out of your head, you're so NOT screwed. Pace yourself properly on the first half and you will rock your marathon Pat. Best of luck to you, looking forward to your report.

                      E.J.
                      Greater Lowell Road Runners
                      Cry havoc and let slip the dawgs of war!

                      May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your SPF30, may the rains fall soft upon your sweat-wicking hat, and until you hit the finish line may The Flying Spaghetti Monster hold you in the hollow of His Noodly Appendage.

                        Oh, sorry. I thought you were being sarcastic! ;o) My apology. Just curious; so how come you actually did your 30k faster (pace wise) than the half? Actually, with your base, if you do some hills (specific hill exercises, not just running over hilly courses) and do the taper well, you'll probably break 4-hours in no time. Just my opnion...
                        I don't want to make any excuses but I did note in my training log 1 or 2 days before the half that I didn't expect to run well. I pulled a chest muscle and everytime I breathed deeply I got a sharp pain. If I even twisted my upper torso I got the sharp pain. This problem finally went away about 6 days ago. I continued running through it for the two weeks I had the problem (Some of us just don't know when to stop) albeit at a slower pace. I usually train in mid to high 5 min km's but for about 2 weeks I had to run mid 6's. On top of that, I agree and have mentioned a few times in my log that I was training on the edge and perhaps over doing it. I just didn't have the energy. Even my last long run 22 miles was suppose to be 28 but I couldn't do it. Ironic, if I was a bit fitter I probably would be in a bit worse position now because I would have ran the 28. Thanks for the encouragement, and although yes I would like to be faster and that has become my goal. The reason I started running was for weight control. In the last year I have lost close to 60lbs, ran just over 3,600km. Legs and feet have been injury free so far. So would I prefer to be able to run far consistantly and keep the weight off, I think yes, since that was my initial and real goal.

                        "The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling." - Lucretius

                          No. Put that thought out of your head, you're so NOT screwed. Pace yourself properly on the first half and you will rock your marathon Pat. Best of luck to you, looking forward to your report.
                          Thanks BadDawg I was hoping to break 4 on this race, but Nobby may well be correct and I may be spent. All may not be lost if the race is going badly I will slow right down (Making a prophet out of Nobby). and save myself for my 2nd Marathon October 19th ......... Yes I am a sick puppy Big grin

                          "The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling." - Lucretius

                            Backstretch--just imagine how you'd be feeling if you did too few long runs! It is normal to freak out before a marathon. It is also normal, when freaking out before a marathon, to look back over your training and try to pick out things that you did wrong. Everyone does this. Fortunately, despite this, many folks end up running just fine. Congrats on the weight loss and good luck in the marathon!

                              Even though the phenomenon sometimes frustrates me, I totally get the obsession many--especially newer--runners have with the long run for marathon training. I really do. I mean for most of us, the marathon is the one distance we race where the race itself is longer than any (or at least almost any) training run we ever do. Just the distance itself is scary enough, let alone thinking about racing it. And when you do go out and botch a marathon and the final 25% of it becomes a brutal death march, it's really easy to say that the solution is more long runs--after all it wasn't until after 20 miles that the wheels came off, right?

                               

                              The thing is no matter what distance you're racing if you totally mess it up, the disaster won't show itself until about he final 25% of the race. I can't tell you how many times I've run 5K's that went 5:20, 5:38, 6:19-doing-the-funky-chicken. But when we do that we don't automatically look at that last mile as the problem the way we do in the marathon. We don't say, "Oh, obviously I need to do more runs that are longer than 2 miles because at 2 miles is where the wheels came off." Because all of our runs are longer than 2 miles, hell they're longer than the race itself. So we look at other things and say, "Well I need to do more speedwork," or "I need to do more tempos," or, "I need to run more hills," or if we're really clever we might even say, "I need to run more," or, "I need to stop overestimating my fitness and going out way too fast!"

                               

                              Long runs are very important for marathon training. In most training weeks, your longest run is your single most important run of the week. But it's not more important than all the other runs combined. And just because it's an important run doesn't mean it's a good idea to flog yourself for four hours. I like Nobby's recommendation to focus on time, more than distance. Although I log distance, I plan my training based on time. In marathon training, I try to do at least 2 single runs per week over 90 minutes, with one of them being over 2 hours. I never run longer than 3 hours and very rarely even approach 3 hours. But I do run every day and run relatively high mileage for a regular person

                               

                              Okay but I'm faster than the average person and that means I can run 20 miles in well under 3 hours so I can't possibly relate to the challenges of slower runners!

                               

                              Yeah, I've heard it before. But I've got plenty of experience working with slower runners, and my experience tells me the same thing Nobby's a thousand times more extensive experience tells him--that although it may be psychologically important for a newer marathoner to go over 20 miles at least once in training, it's probably not a good idea to go longer than 3 hours, regardless of distance, very often.

                               

                              We call training "training" and not "practice" (well most of us anyway) for a reason. It's because although there is some element of it that is mental and psychological practice for the stress of racing, really what we're trying to do is train our bodies. We're actually trying to make physiological changes to our bodies to make them better able to run fast and long--we're increasing our abilities to process and use oxygen, building capillaries, increasing blood volume, increasing aerobic enzyme activity, strengthening our hearts, our lungs, our muscles, our connective tissues. We're building neuromuscular coordination and becoming more efficient, quicker, smoother, lighter on our feet. We're developing more powerful, more efficient strides, we're...training.

                               

                              We are indeed also practicing--developing a raw toughness, an edge, a killer instinct, a detached ambivalence to our own suffering in favor of a laserbeam focus on The Task At Hand, an understanding of what we can and can't do, and a belief that we can do just a tiny bit more than what we've done so far. But all that mental practice doesn't mean a thing without the training, and really you couldn't have one without the other so the question is moot.

                               

                              These changes both physical and psychological can only happen a little at a time. That is, no matter how big of a workout or a run you do, you can only make so much progress from one effort. At some point, you've gotten all the training stimulus there is to get from a single run or a workout and you're just bludgeoning yourself needlessly, prolonging your recovery and compromising the next few/several days of training. The exact point is probably a bit different for everyone and the intensity certainly matters but for your run of the mill long run, 3 hours is probably a good rule of thumb. So it's really the sum total of all the little efforts that do much, much more of the work than a few Big Efforts, but the Big Efforts can put the finishing touches on a training cycle. That's why weekly, monthly, yearly, lifetime mileage is always much, much more important than the long run, but the long run is still important.

                               

                              Nothing magical happens at 20 miles. You don't suddenly switch to burning fat over carbs or any other such physiobabble. You're always burning both, and the mix depends on effort/pace, not distance. Run a lot of weekly miles at low intensities and you'll become damned efficient and using fat as a fuel source to spare your glycogen. "The Wall" is purely a function of outrunning your fitness level. If you run the first 15 miles too fast, you'll hit the wall no matter how many long runs you've done over 20 miles. And if you go out slow enough you'll never hit it even if your longest run ever was 10 miles.

                               

                              I guess what gets me riled up and why I've felt the need to write this novel is when you've consistently got the most experienced, most accomplished runners and coaches on this board saying that 20 milers are not the be-all-end-all and still there is vehement argument from people who've never run a marathon or have run one or two off of low mileage and long runs talking about the NEED for 20+ milers, as if there's no other option (I'm not specifically talking about this thread here, BTW). You'd think experience would count here. Nobby is, literally, a world renowned coach. Obsessor has run 2:30. Tanya is 47 and ran sub 3:40 this year at Boston. Jeff won his first marathon and has run 2:38. I'm nobody's idea of elite but I've shown an ability to improve through training--I ran my first marathon in 3:40, took a full 30 minutes off between my first and my 2nd, and have taken another 15 minutes out of my marathon PR since then, with hopes of more time coming off soon.

                               

                              When you consider the collective experience--the many tens of thousands of miles, the many hundreds of races, the many dozens of marathons--on the side of "Don't overdo the long runs," you'd think there might be something to it. Just sayin'.

                              Runners run.

                                Wow, great thread and very interesting to me because I am training for the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov 23rd. I too will be running my first marathon and I too am using one of the "cookie-cutter" plans that include 4 - 20's. I have done one so far (did another last spring when training for my other first marathon which turned into a half after knee strain) My base has been very solid and my long runs have felt good. I guess that I will end up having to sift through the contrasting opinions of you very knowledgeable runners and end up making a decision myself.