Well Sunday has come and gone. The first of the four marathons I have lined up is done and by the 19th October I will have completed four marathons in just under four months. The plan is to persuade my body and mind that 42.2 kilometres is not such a big deal and that they (mind and body) should simply get on with the job!
I have been following the theory that if one does a huge amount of Zone 2 training, one’s aerobic base should improve and that one should, after several months, be able to cover the same distances faster. Also, this Zone 2 training (which is super-slow incidentally) means less stress on the body, easier recovery and no sore legs!
I completed Sunday’s marathon in 6:09 which is pretty slow – zone 2 pace for me. Here in South Africa anything over 5 hours is considered slow ( a Comrades Marathon qualifier must be run under five hours). I did feel sore from 30 km onwards but I think that is to be expected. I ate no sugar, gels, energy drinks etc. I had a coffee with cream and coconut oil when I woke up followed by a handful of almonds. On the road I took in only water and a small handful of macadamia nuts a la Prof Noakes. The good news is that today (3 days later) my legs feel fine and I have energy to spare (thank you Prof!) Read more here.
So what did I learn from this marathon?
First of all, I want to experiment with taking in a little extra food. I wasn’t hungry on Sunday but maybe a little extra would give me a little extra vooma. I know of a product called Ucan which claims to be a complex carb that exits the stomach quickly, causing no GI stress, and which enhances fat burning by inhibiting insulin release – no sugar spikes. My daughters (both competent ultra runners) swear by it so I think for the next marathon I will introduce a sachet of Ucan into my race nutrition – creamy coffee, coconut oil, nuts and Ucan will be the menu for the day!
Secondly, for the first 30 or so kilometres of the marathon I ran/walked just behind or just in front of a very good race walker. On every hill where I walked she would overtake me, looking so incredibly strong. I could pull in front by running the downs and flats but she beat me on the hills every time. With about 10 km to go she left me behind. So my second lesson is this – I will learn to race walk on hills! No more ambling! This makes so much sense when one takes into account that there are not many flat races in South Africa – definitely not in my home province of Kwa Zulu Natal.