Monday, 28 March 2016

Marathon Training - The Long Runs

After consuming our body weight in chocolate yesterday, let's think about exercise.  Everyone who knows me must know by now that I am running the London Marathon on the 24th April which is now JUST UNDER FOUR WEEKS!! Help.  You can check out previous updates of my marathon training here.

Today I am going to talk about the long runs.  Those dreaded grueling long runs.  They're not that bad.  Really.

15 miles
On 28th February I went for a 15 mile run.  Up until this point the furthest I had ever run was a half marathon, 13.1 miles.  It wasn't such a bad run.  Anyone who has been following my training will know that I have been suffering with iliotibial band syndrome.  IT band problems are a total arsehole.  It's annoying but I've been trying to rest whilst trying to train and trying to follow the advice of my osteopath but the symptoms had been getting better.  I did ok on the run until about 7 miles in when the pain kicked in but I ran through it (I know, I know, never run through the pain) but it was bearable.  The pain intensified at about 13 miles and my whole body ached, I had to drag myself through the last two miles.
To fuel myself I took along a bottle of Lucozade, a bottle of water and some jelly babies.  It was annoying holding two bottles and the jelly babies were a pain.  I came away from the run feeling frustrated about my knee pain.

20 miles
Sunday 6th March, Milton Keynes 20 mile race.  I had been dreading this but on the day I woke up feeling excited.  I had only ever ran one race before, a half marathon, and I loved the atmosphere.  I set off on this run buzzing off the crowd of people that I was running with. I had one energy gel with me and a bottle of water, my friend stored the rest of my energy gels on her.  At about 10 miles in I'd had two energy gels when my friend decided to pick up the pace leaving me behind to run on my own (ok fine that's not so bad) but with no energy gels (very bad).  However I kept going.  At 16 miles was when the lack of energy hit me, I struggled so much to keep going.  Then just past the 16 mile point I saw my parents which spurred me on a little, however inside I wanted to cry and run to them.  At 17 miles my body wanted to give up, my knee was painful and my bum had cramp.  I stopped to stretch, and when I went to continue running, I just couldn't.  I walked for a bit then when I felt like I could, I did a very slow run.  At about 18 miles was when my legs turned to jelly, I couldn't control them and I thought I was going to fall over.  My knee pain was very severe and I felt like I was going through hell and back.  I have no idea how I got to 19 miles, and then I saw one of the steepest hills I had ever seen.  I nearly cried.  Of course I walked up the hill and at the top I could hear the cheer of the finish line so I started jogging.  That's when I saw my Mum yelling at me to sprint and so I did.  Ok I didn't sprint but I ran as fast as my body would allow. Crossing that finish line was such an amazing feeling.  I didn't feel like I had accomplished anything as I had spent the last few miles mainly walking but I felt relief.  Then I saw my family and friends and almost cried.

18 miles
Sunday 20th March saw me run 18 miles.  Now that was a painful one.  I had been out on the Saturday night, hadn't drank alcohol since January.  I drank far too much that Saturday night, went to bed at 4.30am and didn't get enough sleep.  You can already see where this was starting to go wrong.  I was dosed up on bananas and lucozade.  I carried a bottle of water and energy gels.  The first few miles were tough, I still had a slight headache, I felt dehydrated and my body hated me.  At 7 miles my body hated me even more, I was sweating more than I normally would and every part of my body ached.  My usual knee pain didn't kick in until 15 miles which was excellent!!! However my legs ached SO much!!  When I hit 16 miles it was such a struggle.  I was running so slowly and I really didn't know how I was going to carry on for 2 more.  But somehow I did and in the last half mile I felt so hopeful that I ran faster than I had for the last 10 as I just wanted to stop running.  Running with a hangover was terrible.  Don't get drunk guys!!

22 miles
My furthest run before the marathon was on Saturday 26 March.  22 miles sounds like hell, and I did not want to start running but I knew I had to.  It was cold and the first three miles were the worst.  But then it kept on getting better and better and even better.  I mean, my body obviously became more tired and achier but I had finally learnt to embrace it.  I enjoyed the ache in my leg muscles, almost as if they were getting stronger with every step.  I kept waiting for that horrendous knee pain to kick in, but it never did!  Not once!! Is my knee pain finally gone forever?! Only time will tell.  I wasn't as slow as I thought I would be and I really did enjoy this run even though it was cold, it was rainy and people wrapped up in their big coats and hoods were staring at the mad girl.  The rain even became torrential at one point.
This run taught me when I needed to take energy gels, consume water and what worked well for me.  When it got to mile 22, I was enjoying it so much, I wanted to keep on going.  I wanted to reach 26.  However you shouldn't run past 22 miles when training for a marathon, especially only four weeks before.  That would be silly and would risk injury.  I really felt like I accomplished something on this run!

So that 22 miles was on Saturday.  My legs ached yesterday but it was a nice muscly ache that said I had done a good workout, today I can barely feel a thing.  I finally love running long distance.  I hope that on marathon day I will be feeling as good as I did on Saturday!

If you would like to see live updates of me at the marathon in April you can add me on Snapchat @ mariafagan orrrrr if you would like to sponsor me (I am running for Whizz Kidz), you can do so here.

Are any of you guys running the London Marathon?

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