Whilst last week’s long run was all about “progression” (getting faster the farther you run) this week’s was all about the long slow stuff that love making in ladies novels talks about – effortless endurance.
I remember when I used to actually use a structured training plan for marathons, the joy of a slow 3 hour run on a Sunday morning was something to look forward to. It was just running.
The target for yesterday’s run was 18 miles but I started to experience the elasticity of time and space you get on an ultra marathon where mile 4 feels like mile 9 which feels like mile 13 and suddenly you’re at mile 18 and wondering whether you should stop now or keep going. So I decided to round it up to 20 miles as this always marks a milestone in training (visualise pub-style conversation while struggling through latter stages of an ultra-marathon: I mean, I was cracking out 20-milers in mid-February, I don’t know what’s gone wrong today…….!)
I had completed the run on a mainly fat based diet (avocado and feta salad + beef the previous night) with porridge, coffee and berocca for breakfast so the run had that element of running on empty to it. This helps with the steady endurance performance you want in a long run – no sugar highs and lows.
Now what, you may ask, is that element of running on empty?
Remember when you were a kid you were always buzzing around the place like a 2-stroke moped, fuelled up on white bread and jam sandwiches. Well, it’s the opposite of that.
It feels like your legs (and your muscles in general) are not connected to your stomach. They’re operating on some other power source that leaves you neither tired nor energised but does bring great clarity. As you run along at mile 17 you feel the same as when you were at mile 4. In equal measure it is both reassuring and disconcerting. A normal sugar based run will see your brain and muscles fighting for the same energy source leading to a fog of perception. This is why you always look shagged in photos of your marathon performance when you think you look like a hero (that’s my theory anyway).