Also, the ability to "block it out and run anyway" to me is easier if my goal is still technically within reach. Last year in Buffalo, when the 4-hour pace group passed me and I couldn't stay with them, it became really hard to push through, and I somewhat gave up.
This is why I like to have an A, B and C goal for races. I'm happy that I got the sub-4 which was basically my C goal. A goal for me would have been around 3:52-3:53. But knowing that I could still go sub-4 probably did help keep me from a total blowup when it did get really tough.
PRs: 5K: 22:09, 10K:44:55, 15K: 1:10:35, HM: 1:42:49, M: 3:32:09
To follow up on what NTS said, yes, pain is expected at the end of a marathon. 26.2 miles is (as it turns out) really far. And a lot can happen. But you do need to go into it with realistic expectations. Plan to run a relatively even pace throughout. If it's your day, that might even happen. Out of 16 marathons I had one negative split, my last at Steamtown (Scranton, PA). On PR days, you're probably going to feel better than on average days, even if you're running faster, but it always hurts.
I've found Pfitzinger is good to follow -- he suggests 2-3 hard runs per week (either speed work or medium long and long runs), and fill in with recovery paced runs. I try to run 20 out of 21 days, but most people have good results with 1 or 2 days off a week. I did find when I filled in the two Pfitzinger rest days with 3 mile recovery runs, my times got better. But I'm not doing any cross-training, which might be just as good for you.
Best of luck on your quest for sub-4. It might not be as far away as you think.
Lou, (aka Mr. predawnrunner), MD, USA | Lou's Brews | firstname.lastname@example.org
On the road again...
Thanks, NTS! The advice and experiences from those who have run what I hope to run helps me tremendously. Thanks for sharing it!
MTA: Just saw your response, Lou. Thanks. I'll be looking into the Pfitz plans.
I have a love/hate relationship with running. I do it, but sometimes I love to hate it.
Some pain is starting for me by mile 16, I think. But it is a very different feeling from the "aerobic limit" pain of a 5K, to me. It is more of exhaustion and soreness, I guess.
I liked the Hansons Project emphasis on a lot of MP runs. But frankly, I think the major marathon training plans, at least the few I've actually looked at (Daniels and Hansons and something else), are pretty similar in structure, and following similar goals. It seems typical to me to be doing two quality workouts during the week, and usually a long run on the weekend (unless it is a "rest" or "off" weekend, or unless you're racing that weekend).
Two things I've wanted to try, and finally got to doing a bit of this past winter, were
I'm pretty sure others (definitely Lou) have more experience than I with marathon training plans, and so can speak them better.
I like to get in long runs when it is convenient -- which mostly for me means when I have company -- throughout the year, and not just during marathon training season. Similarly I like to try to do some sort of speedwork every week, even if it just strides.
It's a 5k. It hurt like hell...then I tried to pick it up. The end.
We (or local running club) have started a training group, and DW & I are participating in it, that's where we're likely to do a lot of our quality workouts for awhile. It's a mix of beginners and experienced runners, currently.
I like to get in long runs when it is convenient -- which mostly for me means when I have company -- throughout the year, and not just during marathon training season.
What is this "season" of which you speak?
I should be doing more of my long runs with some embedded MP miles like Perry suggests, but I'm too lazy. I do usually start slower and finish faster, though. I generally break it up into first 5, last 5 and other miles for the pace goals. Pfitz recommends starting at (target) MP+20%, and finishing at MP+10% but I usually go a little faster than that. Pfitz indicates by running faster I'm risking leaving my marathon performance on the training "table", so to speak. But I usually go MP+15% down to MP+5% (occasionally finishing at MP).
yapper: You're welcome! I'm always happy when I can share experiences that may be helpful to others. I'm glad others also commented.
AP: I agree also about fast-finish long runs and GMP runs (or runs with GMP components) as being helpful. I'm going to try to do more of both of those for my fall marathon cycle.
I've just been in recovery mode, ran only 28 miles this week, plan maybe 35 next week, and the following week will start my training for the Peachtree Road Race. Excited to work on my speed for a while before I start my fall marathon training.
What is this "season" of which you speak?
This did make me grin.
I'm racing 10 miles next Sunday.
In other news, DW started contemplating us getting a dog, in the last year or so. We're not too close to actually doing it, but the idea has been discussed.