Friday, November 18, 2005

26 Miles

On Thursday I ran 26 miles.

No. It wasn't a race. I wasn't running with anyone else. I just went off into the woods and ran 26 miles by myself.

I know what you're thinking. Is this guy nuts? I sometimes think so myself.

But this is all part of the marathon training program that I'm following in preparation for the Disney World Marathon in Florida in January.

Wait a minute. There's something wrong here. This is supposed to be a program to prepare me to run a marathon and I just ran a marathon as part of the preparation? Yes -- it does sound screwy. Hey, my aim is to run a marathon and now I've done it. Can I stop now please?

It's not quite as simple as that. I ran my first marathon, also at Disney World, in January. The last six miles were awful. And my time was just over five hours. My aims for the 2006 event are to finish it in (much) better shape and in a (slightly) faster time.

I'm following Jeff Galloway's training program which basically uses a run-and-walk approach for the long distances, including the marathon itself. This week, week 20 of the program, calls for doing 25 to 26 miles "easy". (I love that "easy" bit). In this context "easy" means running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute for the whole 26 miles. And doing so at a pace that is 2 or 3 minutes a mile slower than I could do on that day.

So that's what I did. I measured out a nice, easy, level trail through the woods that was exactly 3.25 miles. I ran from the car to the end of the trail and then back. Drank some water or Gatorade and sucked an energy gel. Then repeated 4 times in all.

You have a lot of time to think when you're running. Unlike sailing. I find that when sailing a race my mind is occupied 200%. Thinking about strategy, tactics, wind, current, boatspeed, how much my legs are hurting.....

Running is different. Once you've settled into your desired pace there's nothing you have to think about. Except, of course, how much your legs are hurting. Maybe it's not so different from sailing, after all.

So when I'm running my mind wanders. What shall I write in my blog tomorrow? When will my son's baby be born? (It's now week 40 of the pregnancy). Wouldn't it be cool if I ran a marathon and became a grandfather on the same day? How many different kinds of bird song can I hear? How many different kinds of leaf are on the path? How much are my legs hurting? And so on, and so on, for 26 miles.

I started off really slow and relaxed. Then each 3.25 miles I ran very slightly faster than the previous one. Until about 20 miles. Then, wham, it hit me. There really is a wall. The last 6 miles were much slower. I told myself it was actually a cool-down lap. I told myself that by doing the 26 miles now I was somehow storing endurance in a tank that I could use in the real marathon in January. I sincerely hope that's true.

But I finished this "slow and easy" training marathon in only a few minutes more than I ran the race back in January. And I had none of the agonizing cramps that brought me to my knees in Florida.

So I guess I'm making progress.

Just hope my legs recover in time for Laser racing on Sunday.

No comments:

Post a Comment