QUESTION: This is going to be my first marathon. I’m following your Intermediate 2 training program. What am I supposed to feel like after the long runs? I just did the 32-K run yesterday (20 miles). At about the 22-K mark, my legs started to get sore, but I pushed myself in. Perhaps a little background: I am looking to finish the marathon at about 3 hours and 45 minutes, which is about 5:18 (minutes and seconds) per kilometer. So I run the pace runs at about 5.10 to 5.18. When I do the long runs, I can run at about 5:18 to 5:22 pace. Is this good or bad? I know I am supposed to run slower, but I just find myself running at that speed. Yes, at the end of the long runs, my legs are sore. Is it good to run that close to marathon pace?
HAL’S ANSWER: Not really. Given the pace run on Saturday followed by the long run on Sunday, you’re probably pushing yourself too hard on the weekends. That means you compromise your training the rest of the week. That also means you force yourself to spend the five weekday workouts recovering from the two weekend workouts. You can get away with doing this when the mileage (or kilometerage in your case) is low, but toward of the end of the program, you risk encountering the twin specters of overtraining and injury. You discovered that fact at the 22-K point in your recent workout. In long runs, it is okay to fatigue your muscles, but you do not want to destroy them. If you find it difficult to run what you consider a “slow” pace, plug in some walking breaks. A minute or so walk every second or third kilometer might bring down your pace average and eliminate some of the soreness/fatigue as well.
Hal uses TrainingPeaks to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans. Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here or on his website.