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I'm hoping someone with marathon experience can answer my questions about long runs. I've been training for my first marathon, slowing bulding up my long run distance. I had no trouble doing 14 and 16 milers recently, but this morning I more or less "hit the wall" 12 miles into my 18-miler and I'm trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. My questions:
Is it normal to "hit the wall" while doing long runs, as early as 10-12 miles into a run? I'm just curious if this happens to other runners in training and if they've been able to troubleshoot the problem.
For what length of run do you need to drink/eat? Is it okay to do 18/20-milers without eating/drinking? At what point in a run should you have something?
How long should you take to recover after a long run of 18 miles or more before doing a run of a similar length? Is it bad to do them two weeks in a row?
I can think of several possible causes for this morning's misery, but nothing really definitive. Any help from those with experience in this (not rude comments, please) would be very much appreciated. I do not want to repeat that run again!
For background, I started feeling crappy around mile 10, held on until about 14, and struggled hard the last 4, dropping my pace close to 40 seconds/mile while feeling like I was running up an enormous hill. I eat a balanced, high-carbohydrate diet and do a pretty good job of staying hydrated, but I hate the thought of carring water and gels with me like the Gallo-walkers. No offense intended. I will take fluids during races, but prefer not to carry them along. I am pretty well acclimated to the heat and humidity, so that should not have been a problem.
What is your weekly mileage average for the past 3 months?
For the past 6 months?
Were you rested prior to the long run?
The longer runs are very important for you.
Do the long runs "rested".
Take an easy day the next day.
Gradually work up to a 26 mile run. Don't get in a hurry.
Do the long run every week, especially the first few runs.
Start the long run at a slower pace than you plan to average
I believe in easy speed long runs.
Do the fast and harder stuff in separate workouts.
Drink during the long run.
Do a 4 loop course and drink after each lap.
Drink water after the 1st lap.
Drink kool aide after the 2nd and 3rd laps.
|Air Force One|
I often hit a mental wall when I'm out on a long run. Especially if it is farther than i have ever run. I get to the point where I get nrevous that i won't be able to do it. It weird and i actually end up running shorter than a usual training run. It helps me to run distance that I know I can handle then proceed to add on a couple extra loops. I never run out 9 or 10 miles b/c I don't like to put myself in no man's land if i'm having a bad day. It just a mental thing w/ me. If i run a 12 mile route I'm comfortable with I find it a lot easier to run those extra bit of miles. Also, I stronngly suggest a training partner who runs close to ur pace. This helped me alot! When u have a friend, you don't think about things as much and everything just clicks, and it is much more enjoyable.
Thanks for the advice. I need to do a better job of easing into my runs, particularly when it's hot. I will try to find a way to take in fluids during my runs, even though it's inconvenient. What about runs that are less than 2 hours? If I'm doing a 14 mile run and the weather's decent, is it reasonable to expect to do the run without drinking anything?
I definitely agree with you on the day-after resting and I'm very good about this--no more than 40 minutes at a very easy pace.
I've been running 80 mile weeks, so I wouldn't say I was rested, but the two days before the long run had been easy distance runs of 7-8 miles.
My average over the past 3 months is about 55-60 miles/week, and over the past 6 months it was more like 45-50 miles/week. I've gradually built up to about 80 right now, which I used to handle quite well in college (2 years ago).
And to the second responder, I do agree that finishing long runs can be very much a mental thing. I have a standard out-and-back I do, and I go just a little farther each week. It's better than running a totally new course, but it can be a little scary to find myself 9 miles away from the finish after already having run for over an hour! But I don't like the feeling of finishing a familiar 14-mile loop, associating the finish of that loop with being done, and having another 4 or more miles to go.
I think it can depend on how HOT it is whether or not you need to take in fluids for a run that is taking under 2 hours. . . I am fortunate enough to be in a place where there are parks with water fountains along the run and even doing just a 90min run in HOT weather I will stop for 20-30 secs and get some fluids. . Rather take a few seconds to hydrate then the possiblity of to take DAYS off or dying from hitting the wall hard from dehydration.
By rule of thumb I both did this and coach this...I normally build up for two weeks in a row, say like you did, 14 mile one Sunday, then 16 the next. However, on the third is when I go back to say...13. Then the following week I would do the 17 on Sunday followed by 19 the next. However, once again, following the 19 miler I would go back down to 16. Only to follow that with two weeks of 20 miles and then 22 miles.
22 is normally the limit I did or coach to do....I do also throw in a 3 hour run on a course that I do not know the milage or would have a tough time even finding out the miles...on bikepaths, wooded area, park loops, and so on...and not worry about the milage. Just some food for thought. I am sure others will give you even more sound advise..GOOD LUCK.
Thanks for all the good advice. I'll definitely make it a point to run by water fountains on my long runs, particularly on hot days. I like to pretend I'm invincible, but I did that once with hamstring pain and the results were not pretty.
Good to know that others do back-to-back long runs. I've been using a training program from runningtimes.com, where you go long 2-3 weeks in a row, and then back down to 12 or so every 3rd or 4th week. 22 is the highest the schedule goes, and at my current pace, that will be close to 3 hours. Glad to hear that others recommend something similar.
I really think that the carbohydrate drink during a 16+ mile run is good. Carbohydrates come in handy in the last 6 miles of a marathon. Your body needs to practice absorbing them while training, so you don't get an upset stomach during the race...Glucose or sugar absorbs best.
On an out and back course you have 2 choices; Put the drink at the half way mark. Or, stop at a pop machine and buy a 20 oz soda and drink it. Drink at fountains etc somewhere around the 1/4th and 3/4 mark of the run. You can practice during other runs, but doing this during the long run is important.
|i've been there|
When I first started training for marathons and putting in the long miles I ran into the same problms that you are having. I would say don't worry about hurting over the course of our long runs.....that's what is supposed to happen. One thing i would recomend though is to go out quite a bit slower and run the first half at a good 15-20 seconds slower than that second half and then realy push it in the last couple of miles. Going out this way keeps you from hitting that dreaded wall but building the pace towards the end makes sure you are ready for that marathon distance in which the pain is inevtitable. Running faster on tired legs makes for the best marathonesque type of experience. Also make sure you are drinking lots of fluids, on hot days I try to drink about every 3-5 miles, you have to do it. Also if you don't feel like trying to go out slow, a thing one of my buddies does that works realy well for him is split the long run into two separate runs. Say he wants to do 18 for the first time, the prior week he will do two runs of ten miles on the same day within a couple hours of each other. I guess it's easier and just gets him ready for that longer distance. And one last thing, doing back to back long runs is fine, I do them 3 weeks in a row. It shouldn't hurt you. Good luck, hope this all helps.
personally, I think this business of eating during a run is nonsense. you are not going to starve. your body initially feeds off primarily carbs but as time goes on, it switches over to fats and if you have done your long runs in training, the switchover will make running your marathon relatively easy from a fuel standpoint. Adipose fatty tissue is the energy source which is most important in the long run and you cant buy it or consume it; you have to train your body to use it, ergo the long runs. i dont drink much except in hot weather. I leave a water bottle under one of my car tires and the car is about 1/2 way on my 6 mile loop course so I can take a swig every 3 miles, no big deal. I feel that the commercial drinks are junk; just read the labels. I like 100% fruit juice cut with water about 50/50. Its natural and doesnt make me sick. 12 miles is where your body told you to stop for whatever reason. You may have thought 18 but your body was thinking 12; guess who wins that contest every time? As you know, you have to increase the mileage gradually but nothing happens in a straight line; you'll have some weeks when you can run longer and some when you cant. Who knows why? Its great if you can identify the cause and correct it but its more likely that you just werent ready for that distance on that day; maybe you were slightly overtrained. No worries. Tommorrow is another day. Good luck.
Great post. That was the voice of experience.
I've gradually upped my daily run to 12 miles, so now my "long run" of 16 to 18 seems like nothing. Back in March when I began building up, my minimum daily run was 8. I have to run in singles- one run a day- so 8 was where I had to start. At first it seemed like a lot- I usually only ran 6 miles at a time, but looking at the scale of the marathon and the training required to tackle it, 8 was the bare minimum daily run I had to do if I was ever going to reach 60 or 70 MPW.
It's clear from the original post, that the runner's base was either not enough to begin trying to run an 18 miler, or she simply paced it too quickly at the beginning of the run.
The bottom line is that the more miles you run, the more experience you will have to tackle the longer stuff, and be both physically and mentally ready for it.
|Loves the Wall|
I think most of the rest of the people on here have pointed out that you need to take on A) water and B) gels in any long run.
I can get through 90mins pretty much regardless of conditions on nothing, but when you are going 2hour to 2.30 you need water and gels. I know it is joggeish but a fuel belt is a sweet thing for long runs. You get used to it quick as. Or as the others i think have said, carry a gel or two and run a route with water fountains etc.
Last point, don't get to hung up about doing massive runs, I think the overall week is more important. I ran my worst marathon after doing a 23miler 9 weeks straight, and my best after being up all night 2 days before and drinking way too much a week before!
A thought regarding drinks on the long run: take some money with you and buy them as you go. It was really hot where a live a few weeks ago, so i took enough money to buy 3 drinks on the way round. Less hassle than carrying them or putting them out on course before you go training. Also, when you get more used to your long runs, try to pick up speed in the last 20-30 mins. At first this is not so easy, but you will get used to it and it definately helps. Finally, do a couple of long tempos runs before the marathon, through treat them with a lot of respect (ie, a few easy days before and after, practise your drinks during). All this will make your first one a little easier, well okay not easier but certainly quicker! Good luck.
The more you do an 18 miler the easier it will become, regardless of water or food intake. I eat nothing during 22 mile runs and am fine as long as I drink water in this unbearable heat. In the winter I'll put in 22 mile runs w/o any water or food. The "wall" you hit is likely more to do with simply muscle fatigue than anything else. Your body just needs more time, months, years, to develop the strength to handle these long runs. No biggie. Just go out and run, you'll be ok.
It's unfortunate that what I'm about to say has become [and I overstate slightly] a controversial opinion, but if you're training for a marathon one of the best things you can do is do all of your moderate-easy morning runs, including long runs, without eating anything beforehand, or taking on any calories during them.
If you can work up to running for 2.5-3 hours without eating anything beforehand, and taking nothing but water that is a fine place to start for then pushing down towards marathon pace, again without gels.
If you're going to use gels in the marathon, and I think they're something to try, you want to have used them 2-4 times in training on long runs to make sure they agree with your system. Some people have GI issues with gels, which is never great in a marathon.
But if you consistently use gels on long runs your body will never really get used to sparing glycogen.
Yes, it's painful at first to hit a wall in training, but think about it this way. Hitting the wall in training makes it less likely it will happen in a race. There's a sense in which you want to hit the wall a couple of times in training. The first time your body doesn't know what to do, that's what happened to the original poster. Most of the subsequent times it both responds a little better to running out of muscle glycogen, and pushes that point a little further out.
Obviously long runs without calories put some stress on the body, deplete muscle glycogen etc. It can take 48 hours to totally replenish. I can often feel the lingering effects of Sunday's long run on Tuesday's moderately long run. It's all good marathon training.
I'm also with Alan on the long runs without water in winter. If you can dress right, hydrate beforehand etc, winter is the time for the body to learn to run well with not much fluid intake.
I'd recommend these two articles as useful discussions of the issue. Mcmillan's is especially good, and makes suggestions for how to implement these ideas in your training.
Thanks to everyone for all the good advice. This will likely involve some experimentation, but I'm glad to get thoughts and ideas from those who have been there and done that.
this thread is ridiculous. the latest report is that long runs are unnecessary - do a tempo run on day1 and a abbreviated long run (no more than 16) on day 2. this is the gospel according to hansons, they said this is the best way to run marathons so stop this long run nonsense
Each to their own.
This is what I find works best for me.
Build slowly to 2hr-- 2h30m by running long every 7-10 days.
Then alternate 2:30+ one week, 2hrs the next.
Drink often and drink plenty.
Increase speed as you get closer to specified Marathon.
Make sure you are fresh when you start and make sure you recover properly.
Most important:make sure you enjoy them.
If you are having problems getting thru them then look to the following.
You are trying to build too fast.
You have not recovered sufficiently between runs.
Your diet is lacking.
It is too damn hot and you just can not keep the fluids up.
You are dehydrating.
Overall mileage too low.
Goodluck with your first Marathon.
If you train and taper right it will all come together on the day.
My 20cents:You had a little hiccup,do not fret,have faith in your training.
I agree with flightless. The only thing I occasionally eat before my long runs is a prune or two. I drink a decent cup of coffee and make sure I'm well hydrated.
During the summer, I also hydrate during runs. You're making a huge mistake not to do that. During cooler months, on the other hand, I'm usually OK for two hours with no water.
I think temperature/humidity/direct sun have a whole lot to do with what happened to you. But let me relate my own experience.
I've regularly been running long runs in the 2:00 - 2:30 zone, but lately, with my eye on a September 3rd marathon, I've been upping that. July in North Mississippi is tough.
Two Sundays ago is was 65 degrees when I started and 75 when I finished, three hours later. In other words, I got lucky: a cool, low-humidity day, at least for this part of the country in July. I drank a fair bit of water but ate nothing during the run. I felt stronger at 3 hours than I did at 1. Very low effort level for the first hour, too--under 70% max HR. Great run. Twenty miles in 3:05. Last five miles @ 8:20 pace.
Yesterday: 75 degrees when I started, 88 when I finished. Noticeable humidity, and direct sunlight for the last half. I hydrated well but still bonked--a first for me. I was OK through 12, slowed to 15. Stopped and put down another pint of water. Thought about quitting. The last 4.8 miles were a death march. I averaged two minutes a mile slower for those miles than the week before--something like 10:20 - 10:30 pace. Total time was 3:15 for 19.8 miles.
9:12 pace on Sunday, 9:51 pace the following weekend. It's all about the weather, frankly.
Sometimes there's not a whole lot you can do. I'm quite sure I hydrated well; I'm also sure that my glycogen stores were in good shape.
If it's going to be a hot day and you need to get in a long run, the only answer, as far as I'm concerned, is to start at an early hour. 6:30 just wasn't early enough. I should have started an hour earlier.
I wear a HR monitor and it's a great help. Yesterday it led me to slow radically in order to keep my HR from going to threshold and pegging there.
Still, I've never taken food or GU before or during a long run, and don't plan to. My strong three hour run two Sundays ago makes me know that it's simply not required.
Starting at a very relaxed pace is crucial, and even more so during the summer.
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