Final long run (Brighton marathon training, week 13)


Week 13 of the ‘2016 improver plan’ that I am using as a template for my training. [Available via Virgin London Marathon plans, devised by Martin Yelling.]

From the snippet of my training plan above it is clear that my first run of the week should have been 50 minutes easy on Tuesday. However, I somehow managed to miss this and instead ran the interval session scheduled for the following day. The next day, still unaware of my mistake, I ran the next session – close to an hour of marathon pace. It was only shortly after this second consecutive day of relatively hard running, prompted by feeling absolutely knackered, that I reviewed my plan carefully enough to realise my error. At this point, the only compromise available to me was to run the easy day that I’d missed on Friday. At least, I thought, I might be fractionally more rested for Sunday’s final long run as a result …

week 13 – ending Sunday 19 March

day training
Tues 15 mins easy (warm up)
5 x
5 mins tempo
2 mins jog
7 mins easy (warm down)
(5:00/km average)
over all sets:
(4:06/km average)
(5:10/km average)
(5:17/km average)
Wed 8 mins easy (warm up)
56 mins steady
4 mins easy (warm down)
(4:55/km average)
(4:28/km average)
(5:05/km average)
Fri 58 mins easy (4:54/km average)
Sun 170 mins easy (5:10/km average)
total 5 hrs 18 mins (+13 mins versus training plan)

I employed the same nutrition and hydration strategy in advance of, and during, my long run as described in last week’s blogpost. As I concluded that post, my plan for this week’s long run was 2 hours at around 5:12/km followed by a final 10k/45 minutes at 4:30/km, my marathon goal pace. Taking into account how tired I was feeling during the week, by the time I started out on Sunday morning I had modified my plan to something slightly less aggressive. I had it in mind that I would run seven progressively faster 5k’s paced at 5:15, 5:10, 5:05, 5:00, 4:55, 4:50 and 4:45/km … In terms of duration, these two variants produced total run times of around 165 and 175 minutes respectively. (As I described in my last post, I had decided that running for 205 minutes, as prescribed in my training plan, would inevitably lead to me running too far.)

However, even within the first 5k, I felt that the planned increases in pace later in the run would be too much for my tired legs. I modified by 5k split pacing to “run each 5k at least as fast as the previous one, or a second or so (per kilometre) faster”. Following my, more exuberant than planned, first 5k which averaged 5:08/km, I completed the subsequent splits at average paces of 5:03, 5:03 and 5:04/km. Running the same route as in previous weeks – from home in Beckenham to the Cutty Sark, along the Thames, past the Dome and, this time, to within a kilometre of the Thames Barrier – I reached this 20k point shortly after re-passing the Dome on my return.

My overall average pace of 5:10/km, in the summary above, looks quite respectable but disguises that, beyond 20k, my run deteriorated. My final 5k splits were 5:09, 5:11 and 5:44/km (and this last one not a full 5k as planned, but 3k). Looking at my individual kilometre splits after the 20k point they immediately dipped (5:11, 5:06, 5:07) and then faded significantly (5:23, 5:20, 5:17) as I struggled with fatigue. During the next kilometre, out of nowhere, my fatigue suddenly lifted and I was able to return to goal pace (5:01). Still feeling good I caught up with a group of four runners which helped psychologically and I recorded another good kilometre (4:56). They stopped in Ladywell and shortly afterwards, running alone again, my fatigue returned with a vengeance (5:13, 5:20, 5:28). I forced myself to jog further, deciding I should at least equal last week’s long run duration of 2 hours and 50 minutes, before stopping (5:57 and 5:48).

As a first time marathoner, I wish I knew if it is supposed to be this hard?


4 thoughts on “Final long run (Brighton marathon training, week 13)

  1. “As a first-time marathoner, I wish I knew if it is supposed to be this hard?”

    Your Sunday long run prescription was 205 minutes easy.

    That means it should not have been hard 😉

    When I prescribe an EZ run to my athletes, the pace does not matter as long as it’s at an easy effort. I typically throw in “Feel free to do the final 10-30 minutes HARD if you’re feeling well” They may not even wear a watch or mind the pace during the run.

    • Kyle, thank you for taking the time to post.
      To be clear, having started out at a pace (which was genuinely easy), I should have, firstly, not strived for a progressive run, but simply maintained effort (not pace) and secondly, as I slowed with fatigue, I should have accepted this rather than fighting it as I did?
      When asking, “Should it be this hard?” I am particularly concerned that my three long runs have all, essentially, stopped me in my tracks. Does this mean my goal time of 3:10 (4:30/km pace) is unrealistic? Would 3:15 or 3:20 be more appropriate do you think?

      • In an easy run there should be little struggle. Starting out almost awkwardly slow and speeding up naturally is ideal.

        It’s hard to give you too much specific advice without knowing the full details of your training. Your 56 minutes at 4:28 pace is great for a 3:10 goal time! You may just be running your long runs a bit too hard.


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