We'll take this 26 miler in three sections - we'll think of the first 10 mile section as just another Sunday run at an easy to steady pace, and the same with the next 10 mile section, although when we get to about 16 to 18 miles, even though we’ve been concentrating on this every fifteen minutes, we're going to start thinking again about our running style. At the start and for the first few miles we'll be sticking to our normal cadence of about 180 steps a minute, where our feet spend about 200 milliseconds on the ground and 500 milliseconds in the air. By 16 to 18 miles these two figures tend to become almost equal at around 300. When this happens, our stride will become less efficient, so our feet will spend more time on the ground, absorbing more of the 2 to 3 bodyweights we drive down with each step, and this often causes a dull pain in the kneecap and we might start to slow down. For you, this won’t happen because, particularly at this stage we will be concentrating on our style and cadence, for this will pay handsome dividends for the rest of the run. Also at this stage our glycogen stores will be bottoming out. This is an almost continuous transition, and when you start to run out of easily accessible blood sugar and glycogen you're also feeling pretty dog tired. This is when the hours and hours and miles and miles of training that we've done come into play. What also helps is to remain hydrated throughout the run. I've managed to get a few people every five kilometres to be on the course, at regular intervals, and they’ll have bottles of water for us, but don’t glug the water because you feel you have to, just take sips and drink when you’re thirsty. If you want to take energy gels, you'll have to bring them along with you, they will help with blood sugar levels. Only use the gels though, if you've tried them before.
So, with 20 miles done, we’ll be running smoothly, shoulders away from your ears, running tall, chest open and breathing in time with your stride pattern, body relaxed, 180 steps a minute. Now will be the time for a 10K race effort which will take us to the finish line. We won't do it at 10K pace, just easy to steady, but we will be concentrating as if it were a 10K with our goal of the finish line at the front of our minds, you might even want to sprint the last two to three hundred yards just for the glory.
I know this will be longer than you've run before, but with the training that you've done over the last 3 to 4 months, I have no doubt, even though at some stages, it'll be tough and lonely, with your spirit and commitment, you'll reach that finish line in triumph. What's more, not only will you be a marathon runner, but because we devised a race plan for you, you’ll be pretty close to that predicted time and what’s more, you’ll probably feel that you could have run faster, which of course is the whole point. You'll deserve a medal – I’m sure there’ll be one waiting for you, and you will have found the hero inside yourself.
When you’re walking back to meet your friends and family you’ll probably be saying ‘never again’, don’t worry, when you’re sipping the post race re-hydration Guinness, you’ll be deciding when you’re going to run your next marathon – don’t worry, it happens like that.