>General Running>The LONG RUN Thread
Which brings up a separate but related issue. I've never done a 4-hour training run and I doubt I ever will. In fact, I think I've only ever done one 3-hour training run and that was by mistake when I had my wife drop me off on a section of the Cape Cod rail trail and pick me up somewhere way down stream--and it wound up being a lot hotter and there was much less water on the trail than I expected. There is definitely a point of diminishing returns in long runs. I'm sure, again, there are individual differences but I have a hard time believing that most people are getting much out of a run longer than about 2.5 hours. I think by that time most people have just about exhausted every system and muscle fiber in their bodies, have gotten about all the training stimulus they are going to out of the run and are just bludgeoning themselves needlessly, resulting in a prolonged recovery or worse.
And, I don't think there is much to be gained runnning over 3 hours, either. Even when I ran for the Marine distance team, we never went over 3 hours. I absolutely agree with the point about diminishing returns. The only exception might be for someone running their first marathon. However, that has little to do with the training benefit, and more to do with instilling the confidence that you know you can stay upright on your feet that long....
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I think the 3 hour rule tries to reduce your recovery time. If you run much longer than that, you'll take much longer to recover because you exhausted your glycogen stores, which will make you miserable the following week, or you'll end up not running at all. If your stomach can handle it, you can reduce your recovery time by eating on the run. Take a gel regularly, or eat a granola bar, or some other source of carbs. Eat immediately after you're done will also help.
As Pron8r so eloquently pointed out in another thread, if you want to run fast, then you should run fast during your training. You get what you train for. I'll unplug my mind now.
You'll ruin your knees!
""...the truth that someday, you will go for your last run. But not today—today you got to run." - Matt Crownover (after Western States)
My experience (mind you, I have only run about 20 marathons total) is that the "wall" is distance-related, not time. And, with most runners, it is right around the 18-20 mile mark. In point of fact, if a marathon was only 20 miles, a lot more runners would run it--and fairly fast. The "wall', btw, has little to do with the fact that you hurt in the latter stages of a marathon. All runners feel the last few miles--even the elites. The wall has everything to do with, primarily, glycogen depletion and/or poor training. Your fuel cells have run dry. At that point, you will feel light-headed, dizzy, disoriented, weak, or some combination thereof (see Paula Radcliffe and the last Summer Olympics). I have only hit the wall once in my marathons. And, I know exactly why. Is it inevitable that a runner will hit the wall? No. And, you don't need to (and shouldn't) hit it in training.
As for the glycogen thing, it's based on exertion. The more effort you exert, the faster you burn the glycogen. Now, we will all burn use up our glycogen stores, regardless of who you are, in the course of the marathon, so your body now has to find alternate sources of glycogen. In endurance events, your body wants to burn fat if it can, but it will burn muscle as well. So, long runs train our bodies to burn more fat. However, again, if you're over-exerting yourself, you strain your body to the point where it can no longer burn fat efficiently, and that's where people tend to "bonk".
I'm running somewhere tomorrow. It's going to be beautiful. I can't wait.
eating about 400 kcal of mostly carbs about 3 hours before race time will replenish what you lost overnight (from your liver) and let you start with 2000. With proper pacing you might be able to generate another 500 kcals from metabolizing fat.
So many questions, so little time. I'm leaving right after work for St. George for this weekend's marathon.