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Hitting the wall, what to eat and your longest training run were the first three questions for Marathon Man Gary Allen File 2

I am going to cover a lot of ground in my column here.  Here are my thoughts on three questions I have been asked many times.

1. What is the best thing to do if you hit the wall at 20-miles in a marathon?

Firstly, you shouldn’t hit the wall in a marathon, if you do you are probably undertrained or you likely ran far beyond your abilities, especially in the early miles.

Rather than tell people what to do when they hit the wall I’d like to share how not to. In most cases you need to train for years to harden you mind and body to the rigors of what you are undertaking. There are no short cuts to avoid hitting the wall besides training hard and racing smart. 

2.  What should you really eat and drink during the two days before running a marathon? 

Eat and drink whatever you typically eat or drink . Sadly in this internet age there is so much information flying around it actually turns marathon running into the proverbial alligator under your bed it’s not.

Remember a marathon is a man made distance and if you turn it into something more than the long road race it is, you unintentionally give the race mental power you’ll need to run. The moment you start feeling bad, because of all this information that is pinging off your brain about what you should have eaten or drank, it is like being handed an anchor.

3. How long should you longest run be training for a marathon, when should it be done and at what speed? 

You should be able to cover 28 -30 miles fairly comfortably. These long runs shouldn’t be timed but run at a very comfortable pace whatever that is. Long runs (aka time on your feet) are to help you build endurance and efficiency and not speed.

As far as frequency, I particularly hate weekly training schedules. Your body doesn’t know Sunday from Wednesday, instead I tell people I have coached to break down running into basic ingredients such as long runs, hills, speed etc and make sure you add all of these basic ingredients about every 10-12 days.

Running is not rocket science no matter how many people try to convince you otherwise. My advice is to go have fun and because you are having so much fun you’ll get much better at playing!

(Marathon Man Gary Allen is a regular My Best Runs column.  Gary Allen is one of a few runners who have run a sub three hour marathon for each of the last five decades.  He is also a race Director and coach.)

(12/21/2018) ⚡AMP
by Gary Allen
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