Did intervals session on the dreadmill due to the gales - all fine - and stuck quite well to calorific target. Well done me.
For someone who has run two marathons previously I'm still very much the novice. In part that's because my first two forays into the realms of the 26.2 miler were deliberately 'safe'.
In 2007 I had a good deal of disruption to training in the final weeks and on the day it was 32c, some 25c warmer than any run I'd done in the previous 6 months. I took it very easy but was still badly affected by the heat.
Then, in 2009, I'd only trained off 2 runs a week for 12 weeks due to a lower leg injury that had kept me on the injury bench for nearly 8 weeks beforehand. I set myself a suitably conservative target, did the first half very slowly as a result and ran comfortable negative splits.
This time I'm gunning for an ambitious target. Probably.
On Runners World there has been a bit of discussion of late about gold, silver and bronze targets for the race and I really don't feel I can set mine yet.
All along I've been looking at 3:30 but that's mainly been based on a September 10k time indicating I might be able to do 3:28 or similar. That's assuming I'm equally suited to the longer distance and am not a more natural 10k runner - and I have no idea if that's the case as its never been tested.
Until this week I hadn't really considered pacing too much. I'd loosely assumed I'd look to run fairly even splits throughout at about the 8:00 mark on the basis that I generally finish strongly but later revised that ever so slightly to 7:57 or so to give me a tiny bit of insurance. That's the sort of pace I've been aiming for when I've been doing any 'marathon pace' running.
What I've read this week challenges that though.
First up was an extract from a book by Pete Pfitzinger that many runners claim is the best around for marathon training. That suggests the best approach is to run the first half 1 - 3 minutes faster than the second half on the basis that the majority of runners gradually slow through the race.
Taken at face value that would have the first 13.1 miles at about 7:53 and the second at 8:07.
My assumption is that the higher average in the second half would largely be down to significantly slower last few miles rather than anything like an even 8:07 from halfway.
The second thing I read was a thread on Runners World all about the 3:30 target and that featured a very eminent coach employed by the site to give advice on the subject. He seemed extremely aware of the challenges of the last 6.2 miles and generally advised running more like 7:51 pace to halfway, then trying to maintain that until 20 miles to keep plenty in the tank for the final challenge.
That seemed to support my assumption about the first article but implied two worrying things:
- That I should look to run 8s a mile faster than planned and for 20 miles (can I do this?).
- That the effect of the last 6.2 could be huge as there would be 180 seconds in the bank at 20 miles allowing an average in the last 6 miles of around 8:30, and on the basis of no sudden change at 20 that might well imply being shot to pieces in the last couple of miles.
That scares me.
Where does all this leave me?
Well, I suppose it leaves me facing a choice of whether to take a risk and go for it (risking blowing up big time) or whether to be more conservative and go for a time more like 3:40 allowing 23 seconds a mile slower throughout.
Writing this is cathartic and I wonder if what it boils down to is that I have an excessive fear of failure that I must rationalise and overcome; and that only then can I set targets and make race day plans accordingly?