Figuring out why some long runs are OK and some just DESTROY me!

I run once or twice a week usually, each 6, maybe 10 miles. A few times if I've felt up to it I've added extra segments on, running half marathon distances a few times, 14 miles a couple of weeks ago, with, admittedly, sore legs, but able to carry on with my day, perhaps just hobbling on stairs for a couple of days!

A week after the 14 miler, I'd signed up fir a 15 mile event. On the day I just didn't feel particularly energetic Even jogging to the toilet block before the run! I had minor heartburn. Perhaps because I'd just wolfed down a banana. Anyway, the run didn't go as well as my usual runs, chest pain didn't get any worse, but my energy levels were seriously down, despite taking energy gels at about 4 intervals. I actually ended up stop-start walking for the last couple of miles. Really disappointed in myself.

For the rest of the day I was wiped out, flat on my back. I put it down to burning 2,000 calories or whatever it was (My Garmin and Strava told me different things!) and my body just having no more energy left.

But I can't see how I could fuel myself any differently. And what was so different to the previous week? I'd eaten the same. Quite a carb-loaded dinner the night before, simple breakfast, perhaps peanut butter on toast on the morning of the run, nothing but a banana in the couple of hours before start.
I want to train for a marathon in 2019, and really want to get this nailed before then. How is it possible to load up enough energy for a marathon?
Perhaps I was just generally under the weather, with aches and pains unrelated to running, which the running didn't help with (and didn't help with the running)?


  • 1. Energy levels are nothing to do with energy gels.  We aren't like cars who just need to fill up on petrol. You probably don't need any gels for 15 miles if you've trained properly. 
    2. How fast was your 14 miler ? It probably took it out of you too much. You aren't doing a huge amount of training - you'd be better prepared with more miles in the legs. 
    3. Even on a marathon I only go with 4 or 5 gels.  Your body stores enough fuel to get you to 20 miles or so - so you only need to take on enough to get you through 6 miles.  You need to take on fuel early on, and little and often. 
    4. For marathons you'd have a taper and start on fresh legs with more miles in training. 
  • b3nb123b3nb123 ✭✭
    Thanks for the reply - my 14 mile run was just under 2 hours. Something I'm terrible at is pacing. Even on a half marathon I tend to push for beating my PBs on 10k, 10 miles etc. I am aware I probably push too hard when I'm not necessarily too used to longer distance.
    What do you mean by taper?
  • How did the 14 mile pace compare to the 15 mile race though ?  You're meant to slow down a bit for your longer runs to save the legs for the race.  You can do shorter faster runs - you can recover from those faster. 

    Tapering is just where you reduce the training you're doing in the last 2 or 3 weeks so you can start the race fresh. 
  • b3nb123b3nb123 ✭✭
    Yes, I know I *should* slow down on longer runs, I just get a bit gung-ho and go flat out. That's my main focus on training for now - actually trying to go slower!!

    I didn't consider that the 14 miles that I did 6 days prior meant I wasn't properly recovered by the event, but perhaps that's one aspect. As I'm relatively inexperienced at running over 10 miles that may have been a factor
  • JGavJGav ✭✭✭
    I would recommend adding in more runs in the week but shorten them all down.  Aim for maybe 3 runs of 4 miles and 1 longer run.  That way you could do more miles in a week than you are currently doing but feel less beaten up.   
  • b3n - it's up to you - but what's your goal - to run fast in training and race slowly ?
    Or run sensibly in training and run fast on race day ? 

    I know what I prefer. 

    Definitely getting more miles in would help you - your long runs are a jump in distance. Ideally you'd be running over race distance in practice (apart from Marathons as it's just too far) 
  • b3nb123b3nb123 ✭✭
    You're right, I'm proving nothing in beating previous records just to fail early by going too hard!
    More slower miles for now for sure. And a couple of runs a week instead of a 14 miler once a week!
  • rodeofliprodeoflip ✭✭✭

    A good way to slow yourself down (and make long runs less boring) is to run with someone else who's at a similar level, and if you can't hold some kind of conversation then you're going too fast. You could get technical and start managing your heart rate while running but ability to talk is just as good an indicator.

    Tapering and recovery also makes a big difference - the London marathon was nearly three weeks ago, but anyone who ran it will probably still have tired legs. If I had a 15-mile race planned, I wouldn't do any runs of more than 6 or 7 miles the weekend before, and precious little during the week before. For a marathon, it's a three week taper for me.

    Your fuelling sounds fine - I wouldn't worry about gels until you're getting for about 20 miles. I agree with Cougie - longer, slower runs, with sensible recovery inbetween is the way forward. Your body just needs to get used to running for that length of time, and there's no shortcuts. The good news is that it does get easier, honest.

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