Help! I'm Stuck. (Read 5097 times)


Lia's Daddy

    So I'm running my first marathon on Nov. 8th. I wasn't actually planning on doing this and sort of fell into it so I'm not following a very structured schedule. Since Aug. 9th I have done three long runs (two 19's and a 21). My last 19 was this past weekend and I did it at a 9:30 pace which is just a little slower than my marathon pace I would expect. I'm not sure where to go from here. I'm just wondering if I should be doing any more long runs or if I should back off. I ask because I ran my normal 8.5 last night and my legs felt totally dead. I know that a taper will help but I'm still a few weeks away from that. Any advice on how to finish this last stretch before the marathon?
    "Stadiums are for spectators. We runners have nature and that is much better." Juha "the Cruel" Väätäinen
      My last 19 was this past weekend and I did it at a 9:30 pace which is just a little slower than my marathon pace ....I ran my normal 8.5 last night and my legs felt totally dead. I know that a taper will help but I'm still a few weeks away from that. Any advice on how to finish this last stretch before the marathon?
      You're right that your taper won't be for another 5-6 weeks, so you'll still want to maintain your training and get in some more long runs. I'd suggest just taking a couple days completely off from running. Have some extra protein. Take a nap. It sounds like you're in a bit of a burnout which is pretty normal late in the marathon buildup. A little time off usually helps. Good luck!
        Actually you've only done one long run, the 19's don't count. Use the remaining seven weeks to get two more 20 plus milers in, a couple 22's would be perfect to round out your training and still allow you two weeks to taper. The taper is very important so take a look at a couple training programs to see how to do it. Basically you just cut way back on distance but keep the intensity of your runs. This will give your body time to heal but won't let you get stale. You may also want to try some carb loading before your remaining long runs because you'll be pushing the limit of your glycogen supplies. Basically, this involves eating 7-10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight the 2-3 days before your run. It's not an easy thing to do (trust me) but it can increase your supply of muscle glycogen by as much as 50%. It will also help a lot for the race itself. Good luck. Tom
          So I'm running my first marathon on Nov. 8th. I wasn't actually planning on doing this and sort of fell into it so I'm not following a very structured schedule. Since Aug. 9th I have done three long runs (two 19's and a 21). My last 19 was this past weekend and I did it at a 9:30 pace which is just a little slower than my marathon pace I would expect. I'm not sure where to go from here. I'm just wondering if I should be doing any more long runs or if I should back off. I ask because I ran my normal 8.5 last night and my legs felt totally dead. I know that a taper will help but I'm still a few weeks away from that. Any advice on how to finish this last stretch before the marathon?
          Runningwild: It sure sounds like you're ready for a marathon now though you still have about 7 weeks before the marathon. The thing is; we will all have peaks and valleys during the course of preparation. You'll have to figure out what sort of pattern you follow. Everybody's slightly different on this; so you'll need to listen to your body and figure out your own pattern. In my case, I usually have to have some VERY easy runs to loosen up after a good effort. Sometimes my legs do feel like lead, no spring whatsoever. I think, basically, you can do one of two things: 1) go easy jog (I mean, EASY) until the spring comes back, or 2) go do easy strides (after warming up for 15 minutes or so) or easy fartlek (speed play) over a park or a golf course. Naturally, what really counts is the race day; not a day before or two days before, but ON the day. Pay attention to your body's reaction before AND after your long run (or any other "point" workout). When I ran my first marathon, it was a part of my marathon conditioning build-up. I did a 3-hour run a week before, then 2:30 on Tuesday and 2:45 on Thursday. We took off on Friday and Sunday was the marathon. I remember barely plodding Friday afternoon, thinking I'd never make it. Easy jog for a half an hour on Friday (pretty much all I could manage), easy jog and some strides on Saturday and I ran my first marathon on Sunday in 2:59. There's a certain FLOW in your trainiing. Pay attention to it and don'g get panicky with one or two days of plodding. All the conditioning you had built up over the weeks and months; you're not gonna lose it with one workout. Tanya: Wow! Imperssive resume... I was excited, at 49, with my 21:05 for 5 a few weeks ago. I need to work harder! ;o) Figbash: You're joking and/or being sarcastic about 19 miles vs. 20, right? When my wife tried her first marathon, I think the longest she did was 18... Now I go by time (3-hour max); it's more forgiving that way.
            I'm not sure where to go from here. I'm just wondering if I should be doing any more long runs or if I should back off. I ask because I ran my normal 8.5 last night and my legs felt totally dead. I know that a taper will help but I'm still a few weeks away from that. Any advice on how to finish this last stretch before the marathon?
            Unless you've had some experience with the dead legs you speak of and have found that only some time off helps, I would just keep running easily and see if the life returns. I have on many occasions through the years had my legs feeling so dead that I'd swear it would be a month before I would recover. Then like magic I'm a new man after just 1 or 2 easy runs. The more base you have the more quickly you will find that you bounce back. I believe many people who always take days off as a solution might be surprised at how often they bounce back by just running easily a couple days. There's another payoff too in that your recuperative powers will improve if you keep moving.
            Age 60 plus best times: 5k 19:00, 10k 38:35, 10m 1:05:30, HM 1:24:09, 30k 2:04:33
            obsessor


              I don't say this to many marathon beginners, ... ok... doubt I ever said it: It looks like you've been running a reasonable amount, fairly sensibly, and I think you will be just fine. Don't judge fitness by one run. I can run in the morning and feel like crap, feel great for my nooner, or the other way around. I've had aching quads on the starting line and have set PR's. Sometimes it's a bit of a mystery. You can easily get in a couple more 20-milers (or more, depending) and take it easy for a couple of weeks, very easy the week of the race, then go run the race, you'll be fine. The race won't be easy, but you did not sign up for the local cakewalk, I guess. Tom - I could make you a plan with no more than a 14 mile long run that would kick tail, but you might not like it. It would involve a lot of running, though, of course. Doing long runs makes things easier.
                Figbash: You're joking and/or being sarcastic about 19 miles vs. 20, right? When my wife tried her first marathon, I think the longest she did was 18... Now I go by time (3-hour max); it's more forgiving that way.
                Not at all. Good marathon preparation includes a combination of high weekly mileage and a good number of long runs over 20 miles. The OP already has a solid weekly base, the only thing lacking is 20 plus mile long runs. The longer runs condition the body to rely more on fat and less on the limited supply of carbohydrates and they get you used to spending more time on your feet. Mental training is as important as physical training for the marathon. I also feel it's important to limit the time spent on a long run for injury prevention, but use 3.5-4 hours as the max. I give your wife credit, it would scare the heck out of me to attempt a marathon with 18 miles as a long run. It's a LONG way from 18 to 26.2. In fact, I consider the 20 mile mark the second half of the race, and I'm not joking or being sarcastic there either. The last 3 or 4 miles is where all the bad stuff happens. Tom


                Lia's Daddy

                  Thank you all for the input. It was not my intention to start a debate about 19 vs. 20. I have felt much better on my last two runs. I decided I just needed to vary my routine so I did a few different type of runs. I did a trail run in the dark last night and was to worried about being eaten by bears to focus on my legs. Tonight I may hit an indoor track with my ipod just for a change. I think I will do the following to complete my training: Sept. 20: 13-15 Sept. 27: 20+ OCt. 4: 13-15 Oct. 11: 20+ Oct. 18: 13-15 Oct. 25: 17-18 Nov1: 10 Nov 8: race day Any feedback is welcome. Thanks for all the advice and support.
                  "Stadiums are for spectators. We runners have nature and that is much better." Juha "the Cruel" Väätäinen
                    Tom what about 19.6 miles? Does that count? Do you round up in your bizarre accounting rules or does something magical happen right at the 20 mile marker? I'm really concerned now since I only have 3 "long runs" by your rules and in my naivete I was counting several 18 mile runs, a 19.6 miler with lots of MP and a 30k race as "long runs" but I guess they don't count?

                    Runners run.

                      Tanya: Wow! Imperssive resume... I was excited, at 49, with my 21:05 for 5 a few weeks ago. I need to work harder! ;o) .
                      Thanks Nobby. I always read your advice to others and really get a lot from it. If it makes you feel any better, that 5k nearly killed me. Complete with hurling at the finish. Caught on film. Posted over at the 2000-Mile group. Lovely.
                      Not at all. Good marathon preparation includes a combination of high weekly mileage and a good number of long runs over 20 miles.
                      I think this is really subjective. My best marathons were run on long runs mostly under 20 miles. For me, too many 20+ runs (i.e. more than 2) hurt my marathon time. I'd agree that higher mileage overall may lead to better marathon times, but I'm not convinced that forcing numerous 20+ milers is advantageous.
                        I was counting several 18 mile runs, a 19.6 miler with lots of MP and a 30k race as "long runs" but I guess they don't count?
                        No, Mikey, these don't count. Since you didn't tack another 1.4--2.1 miles on those runs, you can just flush your entire fall marathon plans down the toilet. I hope this helps.


                        1983

                          No, Mikey, these don't count. Since you didn't tack another 1.4--2.1 miles on those runs, you can just flush your entire fall marathon plans down the toilet. I hope this helps.
                          Crap! Mikey, I didn't know that you were running some many non-long-runs in place of long runs in your training. I'm going to have to totally revise my estimated finishing time for you. However, given the number of non-long-long runs that you have done, I think that a BQ is still possible.
                          Favorite quote: Stop your crying you little girl! 2011: Mt Washington, Washington Trails, Peaks Island, Pikes Peak.
                            Tom what about 19.6 miles? Does that count? Do you round up in your bizarre accounting rules or does something magical happen right at the 20 mile marker? I'm really concerned now since I only have 3 "long runs" by your rules and in my naivete I was counting several 18 mile runs, a 19.6 miler with lots of MP and a 30k race as "long runs" but I guess they don't count?
                            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. Considering that the majority of commonly available training programs include a number of 20 plus mile long runs, that seems to be a universally accepted belief. Do you have anything of a constructive nature to offer the OP, or are you are content just playing the critic? Tom
                            Scout7


                            CPT Curmudgeon

                              Well, considering I've seen people successfully complete, and myself have set PRs, by not running 20 milers, I think it's hardly a universally accepted truth.
                                Not at all. Good marathon preparation includes a combination of high weekly mileage and a good number of long runs over 20 miles. The OP already has a solid weekly base, the only thing lacking is 20 plus mile long runs. The longer runs condition the body to rely more on fat and less on the limited supply of carbohydrates and they get you used to spending more time on your feet. Mental training is as important as physical training for the marathon. I also feel it's important to limit the time spent on a long run for injury prevention, but use 3.5-4 hours as the max. I give your wife credit, it would scare the heck out of me to attempt a marathon with 18 miles as a long run. It's a LONG way from 18 to 26.2. In fact, I consider the 20 mile mark the second half of the race, and I'm not joking or being sarcastic there either. The last 3 or 4 miles is where all the bad stuff happens. Tom
                                Figbash: I totally agree with your comment but would take a totally different approach. First of all (and, by the way, I don't mean to hog the thread and turn this into "definition of long run" thread but this is too tempting to ignore! ;o)), yes, mental training IS just as important as physical training, in some cases, even more important than physical. And you build up confidence with success in training. In my wife's case, her longest run before she started her marathon training was probably about 12...a couple of times. When she did her first ever 2:40 (we go by time, not distance), she got sick and had to lay down for a while. I thought, absolutely, 3-hours would be more than plenty for her (which was about 18). If she had to do one or more 4-hour, even 3:30, she would be way too intimidated and, probably at best, she would be so miserable after the run. I'd much rather have her feeling good with minimum amount training and going into the marathon feeling positive than completely "stuffed" which, in my opinion, far too many people are especially by trying to stick with this bogus "3 X 20-miler" idea. Yes, she suffered in the final 4 miles but it was probably more to do with her opeining miles--she started out at 8:20 pace because I guess her taper was soooo good. In many cases, particularly with men, the issue in the final 4 miles have something to do with the first 5-miles. 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". 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...??? A couple of years ago, we had a running symposium in Boulder with Peter Snell and Dave Martin as key-note speakers. Dave Martin said, "Our goal is to find out minimum amount of training to get the maximum results..." Then Peter said, "Well, our goal was always to find out maximum workload without getting injured and still improve..." The former is a comment form an exercise physiologist; the latter is from a champion competitor. Both true and both important to consider. But, for beginners or recreational runners, the former would hold more true. I don't think you're seeking to train twice a day, everyday. You're not pushing your emvelope so you'd be flying down the final 5 miles of the marathon to catch up with the leaders or springing pass the competitors. They want to survive the marathon with minimum amount of "work" without hurting too much. I'd say, if you can get away with training a couple of 10-milers a week, so be it! It was Bill Bowerman, former U of O coach and co-founder of Nike, who said, "The hungry tiger hunts best." My wife ran her last marathon (before she busted her ACL) at TC marathon last year when temperature was nearing 90. She went out the week before with a group of people who were training for TCM. I think they were supposed to do 12-miles and I told her to cut it back (a little over an hour, I think, that was about 8 miles???). She said she saw many of them "walking" the last 2-miles (of that 12-mile run). They were simply too tired to complete the program. She ran 5 minutes slower than her PR in that hot weather marathon while others were 20~40 minutes slower.
                                Thank you all for the input. It was not my intention to start a debate about 19 vs. 20. I have felt much better on my last two runs. I decided I just needed to vary my routine so I did a few different type of runs. I did a trail run in the dark last night and was to worried about being eaten by bears to focus on my legs. Tonight I may hit an indoor track with my ipod just for a change. I think I will do the following to complete my training: Sept. 20: 13-15 Sept. 27: 20+ OCt. 4: 13-15 Oct. 11: 20+ Oct. 18: 13-15 Oct. 25: 17-18 Nov1: 10 Nov 8: race day Any feedback is welcome. Thanks for all the advice and support.
                                Runningwild: I think it's wise to alternate the distance/duration of the long run bi-weekly. However, by doing your final "long" run of 20+ miles 5 weeks before the marathon, you put yourself in a bit of a half-a$$-hearted situation. I personally like to have the final long run 3 weeks before the marathon--at most, 4. This is the final "test" so to speak and, I'd like to look at it as, a dress rehearsal. I would try same kind of food the night before and the morning of; same clothes (if the weather permits) and same shoes. Anything you want to check out, you'll check them out here. If you have, say, 5 weeks afterwards, that might be a bit too long. If you do it 2 weeks before, it's too close and you may not recover sufficiently. For someone like you who had done fair amount of "long runs", I think 3 weeks is good. If you feel uncomfortable, 4 is fine too. If latter, I'd set out and to make it a good solid "long" run. By placing 20+ run 5 weeks before, you'll lag a bit the following week (4 weeks to go) and come back up again with 17~18. To me, that's not quite as long as others (duh!), yet, not short enough that it'll leave some "wear and tear". I'd put one good solid long run 3 or 4 weeks before; then start your taper. Forget 17-miler, or even 12. Go down to 12 (10/25) and then 8 (11/1). These are nothing more than simply "matintenance" runs so go NICE and EASILY. My 2 cents... Doing somethign like a 5k race 1~2 weeks before the marathon would sort of teach your body to run quite smoothly. BUT, if you have a tendency to "start out fast and die in the final 1/4", don't. You want to toe the start, feeling slightly heavy. If you're up on your toes and running feather-light; you may set PR in the first half but run out of gas. 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. On the other hand, if "20" makes a psychological "wall", then you probably need to overcome it. For that, I'd suggest scheduling something like, say, 22-mile run, but be really prepared for it; take carb (honey!) a couple of days leading up to the day, hydrate well, be mentally ready for it, start out slowly... Make this THE final dress rehearsal. But, really, make sure you'll do it 3, or even 4, weeks before so you'll have plenty of time to recover from it. My practical suggestion is to give yourself 2 weeks of recovery after your 20+ on 9/27 (maybe do 13 miler two weeks in a row); then do the dress redearsal on 10/18; then down to 10~12 (shoot for 1:40ish, nothing over 2-hours), then 8 or so on the final week (about 1:00~1:15). Bear in mind; this is just one suggestion and a guide. Nothing is, and they shouldn't be, concrete.