Maybe panic is too strong a word. I’ve been seriously doubting my ability to complete the distance (well, okay, not “complete” exactly, but complete it in what is, in my mind, an acceptable time, and preferably still being able to move my legs at the end).
Last night I was at our club speed workout (fantastic club that is RVRR) and I happened to be talking to someone about my concerns. He helped me think more positively about my ability. I’m pretty fit right now (I surprised myself this week with how fast I have run the last couple of days – particularly on the track last night).
Several things he talked about intrigued me. He told me about one of his best marathon performances and how he had run the first 16 miles or so fast and then his pace dropped for the next 10 miles – he fully believes that he would not have done better if he had started slower; his theory being that he was running at his most efficient pace for those first 16 miles and doing anything other than that quite possibly would have still resulted in a similar or worse slow down towards the end. Overall he came out with one of his best times for the marathon even with some walk breaks in the last few miles.
He encouraged me to try a 15 mile run at “my most efficient pace” – I’ve got to work that out but I suspect, based on my performance at the speed workout and my running history, would probably be around 7:30 to 8:00 per mile (I’m wondering if I’m being a little conservative considering my half marathons are typically in the 7:10 range).
Maybe there is something to this theory. This past weekend I struggled through 18 miles at slower than 9 minute miles – after 13 miles I didn’t think I would make it. I’ve done longer runs this year (okay, not for a couple of months) at paces closer to 8 or 8:30 per mile and not had the same problems.
This idea does seem to fit in with some of the theories out there (and yes, I am aware that what works for one person may not work for another) – this one for example – where the idea is to run “shorter” but more intense runs.
It seems that this might be worth a try coming off a hard run this past weekend. What if I can manage a 15 mile fast run this weekend and feel better than I did this past weekend? Perhaps that is what might work for me.
Have you tried a non-conventional marathon plan? Perhaps you’ve combined the two theories with several long-ish fast runs combined with one or two longer, slower runs?