This Sunday will be the culminating training run of my marathon program. Officially, my training calendar calls for a 29 miler (!), which I was planning on doing until my 26 miler three weeks ago. That was a turning point. For one thing, I finished that run feeling satisfied that I had achieved something significant during this training program. It caused me to reconsider how much I wanted to push myself for the rest of training. The following weekend, I passed on an intense mile repeat workout, instead doing a gentler run. Since then I have adjusted my CIM goals and am no longer planning on going for a PR (personal record). Lastly, I signed up a year ago for the Run the Parkway 20 miler this Sunday along the American River. Adding nine miles on top of doing a 20 mile event has always seemed problematic.
For these reasons, I will be doing 26 miles on Sunday, instead of 29 :). I will do this by arriving early at the American River Trail, running six miles on my own, then joining other runners for the Run the Parkway 20 miler. This will still give me the unique experience (and bragging rights of sorts?) of doing three marathons in seven weeks. It will also give me the added endurance benefit of running the marathon distance… without the pressure of having to go as fast as possible.
Incidentally, I feel much calmer this time than I did three weeks ago. I don’t feel the all-consuming preoccupation of “marathon brain.” Last time, I was keyed up as if I was going to race a marathon. This made it hard to focus on other thing and even interfered with my effectiveness in the rest of my life. But I was a mellow fellow during the last 26 miler, and now I see this Sunday’s run as easy-going, calm challenge.
Keys to Sunday’s 26 Miler:
- Fuel & Hydration: I will bring a water bottle to sip during the first six miles by myself and change to my water bladder (which will have electrolyte solution) for the 20 miler. I will bring gels and/or waffles, which I will have about every 45 minutes. There will also be aid stations throughout the course, which I’m sure I will partake of for liquids and gels.
- Pacing and Walking Breaks: I am aiming for about a 11 minute mile pace. I will be taking 1 minute walk breaks every four minutes. I may let myself speed up a bit in the final seven miles, and more substantially in the final two miles. Otherwise, I will be disciplined about my slowness 🙂
- Running My Own Race: Speaking of taking it slow, I will need to be okay with being passed by other runners, perhaps moving to the side during walking breaks, and generally not racing until the very end of the run, if at all. This will be only my third public event using walking breaks (I wrote about the 2nd here). In that sense, it will be good practice for CIM!
- Mental Attitude & Positivity: Sunday’s run is a public event with many other runners, some of whom I will know. I might also make new friends. Either way, I expect to have social opportunities during the run should I want them. This should provide good stimulation and distraction. However, I think having my music playlist at the ready makes sense, especially for the middle miles (13-19). Also, over the next two days I will do some visualizing of how I want to feel at each part of the run as a form of mental rehearsal.
- Rest & Recovery: Happily, I have cleared my Sunday and Monday, which should help in recovery. I also have a light Tuesday.
Should be a good run!