I finally understand it. I have been studying this thing they call the marathon on and off for about two years and, well,.. it finally sunk in…
I have crunched numbers, used pacing calculators, set goals, rearranged the goals, calculated some more, estimated, fretted, set different goals, tried different paces, …
I have also tried different supplements, foods, pre-race fueling plans, post-race recovery liquids, in race drinking strategies, multiple sources of electrolytes
I have analyzed the marathon from many different perspectives, but I have not really understood it… that is until this morning…
This morning on my way home from church, I was trying to decide what to run today. I have been following a training plan for the Seven Bridges Marathon to be held in October in Chattanooga, TN. My run yesterday was the worst run of my life, at least as far as I can remember. I have since figured out why… hydration, rest, and nutrition all played a part… That will be okay, but it threw me off of my rhythm. How do I get back on schedule?
I started to wonder about my “long runs.” How can I rethink my long runs? How can I scientifically, methodically organize my long runs so that I can mimic race conditions, try out different nutrition and pacing strategies? I can’t carry everything with me all the time, right? If I do, then I should be doing the same on race day. Can I run a marathon with a back-pack? How can I simulate the water stops and port-a-potties in practice?
It occurred to me that I could define some loop around my neighborhood to keep dropping by home for drinks, nutrition, and other periodic needs while I run my long runs. Then I would not have to carry everything. How long would the loops be?
That is when it dawned on me. It all makes perfect sense! I now have a way of thinking about marathons that allows me to think about the whole thing in understandable parts!
For me, a marathon is a series of five 5-mile races with a 1.2 mile victory lap.
In other words, a marathon is a speed workout that includes doing five 5-mile repeats, with a brisk 1.2 mile cool-down.
Breaking the marathon into manageable chunks, makes it relatively easy to think about the elements. It makes it much easier to analyze issues and strategies of pace. It allows me to think about my nutritional needs. I haven’t gotten it all figured out just yet, but I am more confident that I will be able to manage it.
I didn’t claim that it will make it easier to run, just easier to think about. I hope this helps you out too.