What is so important about this run? It appears to be quite slow in pace and far off the pace required for me to hit my race target. At surface level it could be deemed a failure comprising a whole bunch of junk miles. However this run is the backbone of any marathon training program for a few reasons.
The steady run strengthens the body and the particular muscles required to run long distances. This happens irrespective of pace. You will promote increased blood capillary development and mitochondria which is essential for blood flow and energy to the appropriate muscles. A better vascular system means more oxygen and nutrients to the engine. More mitochondria means more batteries to fuel the energy systems. You will increase the size and endurance of the slow twitch muscle fibres necessary to propel you over a 26 mile distance. This is akin to building a big car engine for that drive. In doing so you will prevent the classic runners injuries which include back pain, shinsplints, knee pain, plantar fasciitis to mention a few.
The time on the feet will also get the body used to the exercise duration. I am hoping to run 26.2miles in 3h15min. My body has to be able to cope with those levels of endurance and the time frame.
Of major importance is getting the mind used to the time frames involved. The rule of thumb is the longer the run the greater the importance of the mind as you creep into the pain cave. This morning’s run was done in wind and rain. There is every chance of the conditions being the same on race day. If I can train tough then hopefully I can race easy. After all they say in a marathon the race only starts at mile 20.
Because the London Marathon is such a busy race, it is likely I will have to run slower than my desired pace for the first few miles until the crowds thin out. I have to be strong enough to aim for a potential negative split, where the second half is quicker than the first. This will take a strong body, but more importantly a very strong mind.
April 22nd is a long way off, but the foundations are being laid down now. This is a big ask as I shoot for the stars. But, sometimes you just have to dream big!