Week 3, some thoughts on the weekend...
We had some cracking weather up North yesterday and being on sign checking duty at Grizedale Trail 13 & 26 I got to see quite a few runners as I rode the loops on my MTB. It gave me a few thoughts to take forwards into week 3 with regards to the training plan. What was noticeable was the difference between the runners on loop 1 and loop 2. On the first loop, it was a very cheerful place with lots of smiles and people happy to be out there in the sunshine. For those running the full marathon, the 2nd loop was somewhat different. There was still a fair amount of smiling, but the atmosphere had definitely changed and in some cases, there was a fair bit of lonely 'death marching' going on.
There's 2 things to consider here, the first is how well trained you are prior to the event and the other is making sure you make the right decisions on the day of the event, to achieve the best performance. Over the years, there'll be times when you've done very little training and others when you stacked up the miles. But whatever your fitness level, you can still do a few key things to make sure that you perform as well as possible on the day of the event.
There's 3 basic things which make a difference to your performance on the day:
1. Fluid intake (+salts)
2. Carbohydrate intake
This really isn't complicated. That's pretty much the only 3 things you need to consider on the day of the event and how well you apply those 3 things can have a huge impact upon your performance. I'm not going to talk too much about nutrition, as we'll do that later in the year, but we do need to talk about pacing.
Pacing is critical in training sessions and also on event day. It's probably the most important thing to master, yet less than 20% of people get it right. So here's the basic rule of thumb... If you ran the 26 yesterday and you felt ok on the first half, then slowed down and walked more in the 2nd half, then you went too hard for your current fitness level. That's not a criticism in any way, that's just simple fact.
If you did struggle on the 2nd loop, you're probably attributing it to 'not being as fit as you want to be' ... and whilst that may be the case, you have to accept that you still paced it incorrectly for your current fitness level.
The reason why pacing is so difficult to master is because we generally base it on perceived effort. So, you may have felt on the first loop that you were 'running within yourself' and the pace may have felt very comfortable. But if you slowed to a walk on the 2nd loop, then there's no hiding from the fact that it was still too hard from the start.
In one of our initial blog posts, we talked about the requirement for economy and resilience in events which are marathon distance and beyond. The message was very simple: "most people can already comfortably run and the pace they'd like to achieve, they simply can't keep it going for 26+ miles". The message is simple, most people don't need to be faster, they need to stop slowing down.
If you felt like you ran at a comfortable pace and still struggled in the 2nd half, then there's 2 take-away messages:
1. You don't need to be any faster, you just need to stop slowing down. Go back and read BLOG 2 again. Economy and resilience are key. If your legs feel smashed, consider the part about tissue damage. Grizedale is a hilly route, but it ain't Lakeland, you'll need some resilience in those quads.
2. Based on your current fitness level, you still went off too hard, even if it did feel comfortable to you at the time. It may be painful to get your head round this, but you may have to jog or walk earlier parts of the course, even if you feel capable of running them.
Don't try to argue. The 2 fasts above are non-negotiable.
On a final note, it's worth adding that the weather was incredible and Grizedale is a stunning place to run. If you ran either the 13 or 26 yesterday (or just went out by yourself), you're winning at life. Pacing and economy are important for performance, but getting out there, running with other people and smiling as you do so is always priority. Never forget that.
The Endurance Store