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.