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Long 'Fast' Distance = Different Results?

I think so. I have been running timed longer distances about 3 times per week and I must say this training plan is TOUGH. I have never trained so hard in my 5 years of marathon training. When I used to run long, I would run long, SLOW distances only and would hover in the 11 or 12 minute per mile pace (depends if I was talking with a friend or not). This time, I intentionally set out to run lots of timed longer runs in the 13-18 mile range for this training cycle. My goal was to always keep my overall pace around 9:30 minutes per mile (but not more than 10 minutes) pace. That pace coupled with the fact that I am busting out a long run at least 3 times per week doesn’t give me a lot of rest time but when I do run, I am focusing on running long for a decent pace and essentially simulating race day because I am attempting to achieve a certain time. At first I started with rest 1-2 days in between runs and then I realized I needed more rest days to feel ready to “go long” again so soon. As I approached the peak of training, I had to give myself 3-4 days in between long runs because as the mileage each time got greater, I definitely needed more time to recover. Originally, I was planning to get up to 21-22 miles on a long run, but then decided not to do that. Mostly it was due to having some other pressing family matter to attend to (even as teenagers, my kids run me ragged!) or just the fact that I didn’t want to wear myself completely out if I knew I was going to run hard again 3-4 days. These runs were tough. By the last few miles of a run, my legs (mostly hamstrings) were aching and screaming at me. I would feel completely exhausted and spent even worse than in an ACTUAL MARATHON. I always feel worse in training than I do when running a real race because during a marathon, I am fully tapered, rested and ready to go! I pushed myself so hard and I didn’t want to move one more second. What??!! Me, not want to run?? Yes, at the end of these runs, I was cranky, swearing, complaining and somehow still persevering. (I hope I remember this on race day.) Training is grueling because it is cumulative fatigue and my legs absolutely hated me during the end of these long runs. My plan was working as these long ‘fast’ distances were building incredible amounts of fatigue, but as any marathoner knows, you have to feel incredible fatigue at the peak of training to know that you will be ready for the race. With rest, your body will be primed and ready to go. I really think it is going to make a big difference. I’m feeling pretty confident that once rested, this is going to set the bar for me and I am going to crush this next course. I wish I could explain it but I have incredible confidence that I will shave at least 10 minutes off my marathon time. I am busting my ass this training cycle more than I ever have before that it HAS to result in some significant time change. As inch near the taper phase now, I know less is more and it’s time to rest a bit and be extra good to myself. By the time this training cycle is over, I will have completed at least 16 long runs (over 10 miles and most are over 12 miles). For the next training cycle I will focus on running 17-20 miles or greater at least 1 or maybe 2 times per week. But I will deal with that plan later on. First, just finish up this plan and go run a 3:30-something marathon. That’s the goal. I completely believe I will do it!!!

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