Graphic Treatment: Team RMHC Runner's Circle

This week’s ‘20-miler’ long run is the longest training run of the season – just three weeks before the 2023 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. After this long run, we begin the ‘taper phase’ of training--our final stage leading up to October 8. We have successfully negotiated 16 weeks of marathon training and the goal – Marathon Day – is within reach.

Let’s take a moment to review some of the important Training Tips from recent weeks:

Nothing new on Race Day! We should all have experimented with sleep, nutrition and pacing for Marathon Day. Practice this week as if this were the week before Marathon Day to see how our bodies respond on the long run this Saturday.

• You should have purchased your shoes for Marathon Day. Shoes purchased at the beginning of the season will have too many miles on them for Marathon Day. The shoes you wear on October 8 should have 50 – 100 miles logged before Marathon Day. Hopefully, you have recently just started running in a new pair of shoes and the long run this Saturday will account for 20 of those miles.

Review your goals. If your fitness level has improved, now is a good time to set a higher goal. If ‘life got in the way’ and training went less well than expected, revise your goals to be more realistic. Be honest with yourself and make your goals realistic and achievable.

• Review how to best ‘fuel up’ this week and on the long run this Saturday. Which foods provide the best base before the long run and which products work best during the long runs (gel paks, blocks, pretzels, etc).

Don’t Over Train (or Under-Recover) – if workouts (especially long runs) have been missed, they are gone and cannot safely be made up at this point. Do not increase aggregate weekly mileage by more than 10% and do not increase your long run distance by more than 1 or 2 miles from your most recent longest long run. A greater jump in mileage brings a greater risk of injury due to overtraining. Allow for proper recovery after hard workouts.

• If injured, the first course of action is R.I.C.E. (Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.), and if thesoreness persists – see a medical professional or an ‘endurance sports’ physical therapist. Our window for recovery is slowly closing. Do not ‘push through’ minor injuries to the point they become major injuries.

And this week brings another opportunity to establish and practice our race pace. Throughout the season, we have run our Saturday long runs at a Long Slow Distance (“LSD”) pace, as much as 1 – 2 minutes per mile slower than our race pace. Training at LSD pace has built our endurance. The time on our feet for the training runs has taught our bodies to burn fuel more efficiently with a mixture of glycogen and fat.

The next few weeks are a time to run closer to race pace on our weekday runs, and to mix in a few faster miles on the long run. For most first-time marathoners, and especially for those new to running, the Saturday long run pace IS your Marathon Pace. There is no need to run faster.

If you are following Running Schedule 3 or Run-Walk Schedules 5 or 6, you can run up to 4 miles of this weekend’s long run at a faster pace to see how your body adjusts. These faster miles should be in the second half of the long run, approximately at miles 12 – 16. If you are following Running Schedule 1 or 2, you can run a few more miles at a faster pace, and these too should be in the latter part of the long run.

This week’s long run is another opportunity to practice mental skills as well. When we run the same course throughout the training season, there are certain places along our run where our minds and bodies perform better, on a subconscious level. I think of this as the ‘sweet spot’ of training. Pay attention to the course and try to discover where this point (or points) is. Once you recognize your sweet spot(s), keep those in mind, and bring them with you on October 8.

On Marathon Day, it’s normal for all athletes to experience a letdown somewhere along the race course. If this happens, bring back the images (and the feelings you experienced) from your sweet spot. Think about the landmarks from your familiar route and visualize these landmarks on the marathon course. This will help you get back into the groove and finish stronger.

And in all your training from now to Marathon Day, remember the good running form techniques on which you’ve worked throughout training. Above all else, remember ‘Good form will carry you through’.
Coach Brendan
“Good form will carry you through”®
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