Jan (my husband) has always maintained that you don’t need to notch up a serious number of miles to run a marathon, but you do have to make sure you do a long run, and that you increase the length of that long run over time…. and that you run your long run at a decent pace.
It seems to work for him. He’s run a number of sub-3 marathons over the past few years, and he does only run 3 times per week. Having said that, he also does some really hard cross-training on most other days (mostly circuit training).
I’m running a marathon in May, and I’m only running 3 times per week. This isn’t completely my choice. In some ways, the decision has been taken out of my hands. I’m forever juggling work and kids as it is. I can just about fit 3 runs in each week without interfering with that too much. I also swim with a club. I enjoy this, and don’t want to give it up. I guess I could swap a swim for a run, but I don’t want to. Also, when I tried to increase the frequency of my runs earlier this year, I started to get sore. I didn’t want to get injured, so I cut back.
I’ve noticed that my weekend runs are getting longer, but they’re also getting faster. I’ll often look down at my watch and think gosh! I didn’t think I was running that fast. It didn’t FEEL like I was running that fast. I don’t maintain that pace for the whole run, but I can see that, in general, I’m running faster… and for longer.
Having said that, I don’t exactly run at a consistent pace when I run alone. I’m quite happy to walk sometimes, and I guess I’m often stopping to cross roads and things. The big dip in the middle of this pace trace from my long run last week is when I got stranded on a massive roundabout on an A road, and the had to pick my way along some roadworks. Not fun! And you can see where I start to get tired (and stop more often) at the end.
On Sunday, I had the most fabulous long run around Hastings. It was about 11 miles in the end, but it started off with a mile and a half of boggy, slippery, muddy fields and paths, so not a great pace, but really enjoyable.
I described it on Facebook: “Long run today through the muddy fields where I used to do X-country at school (and hate it!). Then to Fairstone Close, along the alleyway and past Red Lake to the garage (now a car wash) down the road to St Helens Methodist Church. Along the Ridge and down through Elphinstone. Round the Boating Lake and through Alexandra Park past the Band Stand. Up through the woods (climbing over tree trunks, and slipping up muddy hills) to Silverhill. Down Filsham Road and along the seafront past friends’ sea-view flats. Crossing the road at the Pig and through the town to meet everyone for pizza. 11 muddy, hilly miles. So many memories. If I’ve tagged you, you should know which bit(s) reminded me of you.”
Again, my pace was all over the place, especially as I slipped up muddy banks and climbed over fallen trees in the park. And I was very tired by the end of it. Possibly because the day before….
….I’d run a parkrun. It was the one in Hastings, as we were staying with family, and I was able to do it because we therefore had babysitters! Ran it with Jan and a school friend. It’s an “out and back” along the seafront, and it was VERY windy. On the way out, I was struggling to keep under 10 mins/ mile. Coming back, I did an 8.20 minute mile!
It was really good to be back on the seafront. This particular patch is where I used to do efforts sessions with the local running club when I first started running nearly 20 years ago. And it’s the finishing strait for the Hastings Half marathon, which was the first Half I ever did (and which I’ve done a few times since).
I secretly wanted to try and get down towards 26 minutes for the parkrun, but only managed 27.29. To be fair, despite winning it (!), Jan was about a minute slower than he’d usually run for a 5K. So I think the wind did slow us all down quite a lot.
I’ve been quite sore since the 11-miler on Sunday, but will try and head out over the hills tomorrow.