This is the week we've all been waiting for - the longest training run. After this week the long runs become progressively shorter in the lead-up to The Longest Run of them all. Remember the importance of mental preparation. This is not only because of the benefits of a positive mental attitude. Negative trends in the mind are the cause of far more suffering and detriment to performance in the marathon than any physical ailment. No matter what our physical condition, whether our mind is an active and eager participant or an unwilling passenger in this adventure can determine whether we reach the finish line swiftly and happily, or bow out of the race slowly and miserably. A determined, serene and enthusiastic mental attitude is essential to complete the marathon. Such a state does not just arise out of the blue! Like our physical training, mental attitude also must be practised. Don't 'switch off,' but keep the mind focused and present during every training session, and take every opportunity when not running to visualise every step of your upcoming marathon as an uplifting, liberating experience. And so it will be.
Monday July 18 - easy recovery run, 3 km (2 miles). Please try to get to the swimming pool, river or lake for a dip as well.
Tuesday July 19 - strength endurance session, 10 km (6 miles), incorporating 1 km (.6 miles) at 2-mile race pace, then immediately into 6 x 2-minute hill repeats. This has become one of our most important sessions, building up now to 6 hills. Like everything in life, the simple rule of these training sessions: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it!
Wednesday July 20 - easy conversational recovery run, 5 km (3 miles) on flat terrain. Make time for a swimming session again today.
Thursday July 21 - 'focus' run, 12 km (7 miles) including 3 x 8 minute 'tempo' efforts at about your 5 km race pace with a 3-minute slow-jog recovery in between. The purpose of these 'focus' sessions is to sharpen our mental as well as physical conditioning. We're preparing all parts of our being for the test ahead...
Friday July 22 - medium intensity run, 12 km (7 miles) including 4 x 100 m downhill 'strides.' Continue to look for new courses. It's easy to grow stale in the course of a long training program, so newness is essential wherever we can find it.
Saturday July 23 - day off running, easy swimming session, prepare for tomorrow's long run.
Sunday July 24 - long run, 35 km (23 miles). This is the longest run of the whole 12-week program, a very important session. Time and pace are not so important as the distance. Once we've completed this run, we can feel confident in relation to the marathon distance: we'll draw on this run, mentally and physically, more than any other to get us to the line on August 25. Enjoy!