I am going to share an article that I have read many times to frame my mindset about running marathon #2.
I am linking up with my awesome running gal pals for the Weekly Wrap!
I want to be clear I am not advocating running a race undertrained, or passing judgment on the way anyone trains, I am simply sharing my heart and decision making process that led to running a marathon on October 28th.
Below is a clip from the article
Written by Coach Jeff
The marathon long run is overrated.
In my experience, too many beginner runners (those training to run slower than 3:45) focus on trying to get in multiple 20 or 22 milers in their training segment at the expense of improving more critical physiological systems. More importantly, scientific research has shown that runs of over 3 hours offer little aerobic benefit compared to runs of 2 hours while significantly increasing injury risk.
As such, rather than cramming your with multiple 20-22 milers that increase your injury risk and recovery time without decisive aerobic advantages, you should focus on improving your aerobic threshold, teaching your body to use fat as a fuel source, and building your overall tolerance for running on tired legs through accumulated fatigue.
Since the long run is such an ingrained element of marathon training, and suggesting they are overrated sounds blasphemous to many veterans, I am going to provide you with scientific research, relevant examples, and suggestions on how to better structure your training to help you run your next marathon faster.
The science of the long run
Most beginner runners training for the marathon are averaging anywhere from 9 minutes to 12 minutes per mile on their long runs (3:45 to 5-hour finishing time). At a pace of 10 minutes per mile, a runner will take roughly 3-hours and 40-minutes to finish a 21-mile run. While there is no doubt that a 21-mile run (or longer) can be a great confidence booster, from a training and physiological standpoint, they don’t make too much sense. Here’s why:
that your body doesn’t see a significant increase in aerobic development, specifically mitochondrial development, when running over 90 minutes. The majority of physiological stimulus of long runs occurs between the 60 and 90 minute mark. This means that after running for 3 hours, aerobic benefits (capillary building, mitochondrial development) aren’t markedly better than when you run for only 2 hours. Therefore, a long run of over 3 hours builds about as much aerobic fitness as one lasting 2 hours.
Furthermore, running for longer than 3 hours significantly increases your chance of injury. Your form begins to break down, your major muscles become weak and susceptible to injury, and overuse injuries begin to take their toll. This risk is more prevalent for beginner runners whose aerobic capabilities (because of cross training and other activities), . Basically, their bodies aren’t ready to handle what their lungs can.
Not only are aerobic benefits diminished while injury risk rises, recovery time is significantly lengthened. The total amount of time on your feet during a 3-hour plus run adds considerable fatigue to the legs, which leads to a significant delay in recovery time. Credit
I've read the words in red over and over as I have thought about running another marathon and I take them to heart. 💕 Am I trained to run 2 hours…Absolutely. Is that enough training? I don’t know…Did I believe I could do it? I felt confident I could meet the challenge mentally and physically in every other way than my feet...my feet are my thorn, but I was ready to test them.
I put my name on the waitlist for this race during the summer kind of willy nilly and said, if it is meant to be I’ll get in. The course is advertised as a fast downhill course on unpaved road. It had been a little over three months when they contacted me (I had forgot about it!) and said I could have a spot! I was shocked…the wait list was huge when I threw my name up; I really didn’t believe it would happen.
There were a handful of reasons I threw my name on the waitlist.
My first marathon did not turn out as well as I hoped and I felt I needed to right some of the things that went wrong that day, and I was very curious if unpaved surface would make a difference for my feet.
I spent 8 months without the slightest desire to revisit 26.2 after the Richmond marathon in 2016. Something flipped after that and I was ready to create some new marathon memories.
I had a lot go wrong race morning last year. I had sooooooooo much anxiety I could not even eat. I ran on empty and while doing a race close to home did allow me to sleep in my own bed, taking care of my animals in the morning, cleaning up messes, was all part of my undoing. Also trying to drive downtown and park at such a big event was a total stressor. I still get sad when I think about how the morning went; it wasn’t conducive for a great day. I could go on and on about how heartbreaking this was to me in so many ways, but the big lesson I learned, is that I need to remove those elements so I can have a clear head and happy heart when I get to the start line.
This race limited to 400 participants, with a parking area and shuttles to take you up the mountain and affordable accommodations nearby, and the promise of beautiful views made me want to be there!
Also, actually tackling the beastly 26.2 once before gave me experience with what to expect, and confidence that I could get it done. 26 miles seemed so unimaginable to me all during training last year, I am not sure I really believed I would finish until I ran my 20 miler. I have always known though I would not train the same way (if I ever decided to do it again) and I figured 16-17 would be about my longest run.
When race organizers contacted me my initial gut reaction was go! Then the doubts and worries started to flood my mind…will I get hurt, will my feet explode, will it be miserable if I walk 10 miles of it, will Coach Holly be upset I am messing up my half goal???
I have been on a half training mission with Holly, and I didn’t want to flip from that goal, but my heart wanted to do this.
Honestly, it was just a few weeks ago I got pulled from the waitlist. Is that really enough time to make a big difference in my fitness level?? No! But, I did believe deep inside I was ready. I just had a sense of peace about it. If I had a little more notice I would have trained up to 16 miles, but time wasn’t abundant so I just stuck with my normal plans.
Remember, I put my name on the list and said if it is meant to be…
In the end, I decided to say thank you Lord for the opportunity; I am going to become a second time marathoner. My BIG race plan was to hopefully see some beautiful sights, run some intervals, and enjoy the journey.
I, of course, had been stalking the weather, which was great in NC and VA the week leading up the race, and of course the Thursday night before the event – rain 100% chance!!
If you saw my Instagram post you know I accomplished marathon #2 and it was a 5 minute PR and I am very happy I decided to go for it!
I’ll leave you here until I can get more details written out…but I did it! 💫
Thanks for stopping by!! Karen
Have you read this article about training and the long run before? Any thoughts about it?
The importance of a 20 miler?? I believe I needed it for marathon #1!!
Have you run a race undertrained?
Have you ever made a big decision on...if it was meant to be??
Does a rain forecast make you dread a race? UGH!!!