When I was first learning to run sizable distances, a more experienced runner once told me: “you don’t have to run a marathon to run a marathon”.
By this they meant that you do not need to include any runs in your training that are the distance of your goal race. I know some runners, and even myself initially, have a mental hurdle that if they haven’t run the race distance before the day, they can’t do it. This is not correct. If you think about how most running training plans are set up, they increase in weekly distance by approximately 10%. This means you will come to a distance each week that you may have never run before, but find that you can complete it.
So how far is the longest run that needs to be done during the weeks of training before a race? Innumerable training programs and coaches inform us to use the rule of 2/3 to ¾ (I say 2/3 to ¾ as some places it is 2/3 and others it is ¾). This means that the longest distance in a training program should be at least approximately 2/3 to ¾ of the race distance. Running a 10km race soon? The longest run in the training program need not be longer than 6.67 – 7.25kms. Running a marathon? Then somewhere between 28.13 – 31.65kms is likely the longest distance you need to have run in a single go before race day.
For the Tan Ultra 50km, I only need to make sure I have run somewhere between 33.33kms and 37.5kms to know I am race ready. Today I was scheduled to run 35.44kms. Today was my race ready test mentally and physically. It was my longest run so far in my training program, and I admit I was a little nervous about it during the latter part of this week and especially last night. I haven’t run that sort of distance since the Melbourne Marathon last year – and then only on the day!
My last sizable run in my training to date had only been around 30kms, so I was a little uncertain until I reframed the distance in my head. Thinking about the number of 35.44 sounds pretty daunting, but when I started to think of it as ‘just a bit over half an hour longer than my last long run’, then it didn’t seem so bad. My short midweek runs far exceed a half hour usually, so I just needed to place my head in the Wednesday morning run space once I hit around 30kms.
So out I went, rugged up in my winter running attire:
- 2XU compression calf socks (one of the best presents I have ever received!!)
- 2XU thermal compression leggings
- Saucony powergrid triumph shoes (rather vibrant! Poor things don’t know they only have another week or two’s life in the primary running shoe place. New shoes soon!)
- Moving Comfort super (aint nuthin gonna move) sports bra
- Adidas moisture wicking running singlet
- running beanie (I have many different brands. I think todays was a 2XU one – can’t remember. I pulled it off after 1 lap and stuck it in my pocket)
- Adidas running gloves, and
- My fave 2XU winter running jacket.
I think I must have looked like I was sponsored by 2XU – not intentional! Happy to be sponsored though ; )
I don’t think I saw the sun once in the 3 hours and 42 minutes I was running. I was trying to run slowly today – no speedy laps. Although my last km was a sub-5min one, I managed to keep my average pace down to about 6mins/km. It was grey and chilly, with the occasional drizzle and a touch of rain right towards the end. Yippee. I wasn’t sure how many laps I would end up doing of the Tan. It is just shy of 4kms per lap (3.8km approx.), and I live about 0.8kms from the Tan, so I guessed I would do somewhere between 8-9 laps of the Tan. It turned out to be 9 laps (or if you are a sadist, 9 times up Anderson Road hill – it is tougher than it looks!).
What I did see was a lot of runners out today! That really surprised me with the weather. So I enjoyed all the people watching, and gave the occasional nod to others like me who were chasing their tails going round and round. There is always so much to look at, especially with the weather changing as it is currently in Melbourne. The trees still have some golden leaves clinging to the last moments of autumn, which became blankets across some parts of the track. For the first time in ages I saw a few stunning (and squawking) parrots. Gosh I love our native birdlife! As loud and obtrusive as their call can be, their striking plumage more than makes up for it.
I also saw some sort of military ceremony near the Shrine of Remembrance and the Greek/Australian war memorial, with soldiers in period uniform on horses. Not sure what the important date must have been, but it was calming and humbling to remember that many people fought for the safety and way of life that I am fortunate enough to enjoy today.
In summary, the distance I covered was not insurmountable. I was pleasantly distracted by the environment around me, and was surprised when I had reached the 30km point, and realised that I only had just over half an hour to go.
The actual distance I completed today was 36.66kms, not the 35.44kms that I was scheduled to run – I just found that I could keep going, so I did. I know that I am mentally ultra marathon ready now, and the kms I will run between now and 11 August 2013 are just to keep me there and ensure it is manageable.