Marathon Training Stories – The 17-Mile Training Run

Marathon Training Stories

Here is the latest of my marathon training stories, in this one I am going to tell you about my 17-mile training run or should I say my run/walk/run.

I was up early to get ready for the run, you might be thinking what do you need to do to get ready (just put your running shoes on and go), if you read the post about the 15-mile run you will have found that I had got myself a hydration pack.

When I used the hydration pack the last time the water tasted of plastic so this morning I rinsed it out a couple of times in the hope that there would be no taste, it did not work but it kept me hydrated and it did not taste as bad as last time.

We have been having heatwave here in the UK (that’s not normal) it has been with us for a few weeks now, so I expected to be running in the sun, I was happy when I went out the door at 6:40 this morning and looked up at a grey sky.

Not A Good Start

When I started the run I could feel rain in the breeze and I thought that I might have got a little bit wet during my run, fortunately that did not happen but it was still cool and good for the run.

My legs this morning did not feel as good as they did when I ran on Friday, for some reason my legs felt a bit heavy, when I did the 15-mile run I had taken part in a fast club run, and as I had not done that this week I was surprised how bad my legs felt.

I’d rested as normal on Saturday and the run on Friday was at a really steady pace.

Change Of Route

The route I had picked out meant that I was quite close to home for the first 4-miles, and I was thinking if I need to abandon the run I would not be far from home.

Fortunately by the time I had ran the 4-miles my legs had eased off and I felt fine from that point on.

I ran my normal route in the opposite direction, my thinking was if the sun was out I would get the open parts of the route out of the way early in the run. This would mean I would be able to run in the shade towards the end.

More Hills

I had also altered the route slightly to take in more hills, my thinking on this was the race route is quite hilly (the race site says undulating), so I felt that I must try and add more hills into the training runs especially on the long one’s.

I was concerned with this change as it contains a stretch of road that is barely wide enough for two cars to pass, when I cycled it to check it out the cars seemed to be going faster than it was safe to.

But going in the direction I was going and running facing the oncoming traffic I could easily jump onto the verge if need be, on the opposite side of the road there is a bank that is about three feet high, no escape even for someone younger than me.

Running The Trails

I like to run on the trails because it gets me away from the traffic “all that noise and fumes”, but the trails are fairly flat which is not much good if I am going to race over hills.

Marathon Training Stories – The 15-Mile Run

The View

The thing that I did not take into consideration by reversing the route is how busy it would be on the trail when I got to it.

When I have gone on the trails previously at the beginning of the run it has been fairly quite, I only met the occasional dog walker, then by the time I got back onto the road section there were not many cyclist’s, and you can count other runners on one hand.

But on this run it seemed there was a dog walker every couple of hundred yards, I lost count of the number of bike riders there were, its not bad when they are coming towards you, you can see them and get out of the way, but when they come from behind you don’t hear them coming.

The ones with bells can be a bit confusing as the sound they make is a bit like a message coming on a mobile phone, and it is surprising how aggressive the odd one gets because you have slowed them down “poor thing”.

They really don’t need to slow down or sound the bells, I keep into the side leaving enough room for them to get past, and the only thing I can think they might be afraid of is that I might not keep going in a straight line.

Not Much Room To Pass

I also met some runners, the first group I came across were good they made sure I had room to pass quite easy, in the second group there was seven people which was split into two smaller groups of three, the group leader was running in front on his own.

The others were split onto 2 groups of 3, they were running 3 abreast and chatting as they ran which is not a bad thing, but at that point the trail was just wide enough for three people, and they did not make any attempt to give me space to pass, I had to get into the bushes until they passed.

I can only imagine how the cyclist might have reacted to this, I can’t understand why when using public areas like this some people act as if they are the only one’s there.

The Long Hill

Once I left the trail and got back onto the road I had an up hill stretch ahead of me of a mile and a half in length, and after the 15-mile experience I thought my legs might have hurt like the last time or possibly worse.

Marathon Training Stories

Uphill run

I was a bit disappointed when I got to the top of the hill, not because my legs did not hurt, but when I originally planned the route I should have completed the run at the top of the hill, leaving me a fairly short walk home as my cool down.

But when I got to the top and looked at my watch I still had 2-miles to do to complete the 17-miles, my heart sank but if it’s a 17-mile run then it’s got to be done.

As I was close to home I had a good idea of a route I could go on to cover this distance, at this point my legs felt all right, and I started thinking this is great none of the pains like last time. I spoke too soon.

I had only got inside the 16th mile and my legs started getting heavy, but not hurting like the last time, I think it’s true what Jeff says in his book the long runs will push your wall further away each time. I completed the run without the pains of last time, and an easier walk home.

What Was Different

What was different this time round, the first thing that springs to mind is on my last long run I was running for 40 seconds and walking for 20 seconds and as I said in my article about that run my legs felt really sore during the last two miles.

Not only that on my walk home I felt like my legs were going to seize up, it was a very painful half-mile walk.

This time I adjusted my timing to 30/30, I feel that the longer walking time could be a factor in how I felt towards the end of this training session, another thing I did not do this week was go on a faster than normal run at the club.

Having said that I did take part in the club mile on the Wednesday, but that only lasted for 9 minutes so I hardly think it would have had any affect on my long run on Sunday.

I also thought what might have affected the last long run was the fact that I was carrying a hydration pack, I carried it this time and felt better at the end so I don’t think it was that.

The only other thing I can think of was the heat, but like I said earlier in this post, I ran most of the way in the shade in the early stages of the last run, plus in my hydration pack I mixed an electrolyte drink tablet in with the water.

I would have thought staying hydrated and topping up my electrolytes would have aided my run but it did not make a difference, this time all I had was water on it’s own no electrolyte tablet.

Have Your Say

I might be wrong about the electrolyte drink, if you have any thoughts about this I would be happy to hear them, or if you have any questions about the article please do so using the comments below.

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  1. AvatarMelinda

    Wow. This post has really motivated me to up my endurance. I tried training for a half marathon once, but got injured early on. I may have to try it again!

    1. AvatarBill (Post author)

      Hi Melinda it sounds like you might have been training too hard, I would recommend the Jeff Galloway run/walk/run method, before starting to use this method my training runs were done at a pace that was way too high and I ended up with calf problems.

      I have 12 weeks left to train for the marathon and all is going well using this method.

  2. AvatarGlen Palo

    Bill, this is an amazing story! It’s been years since I have done any running. Most of my cardio is done in the gym these days. Plus, some weight training. Living in an urban area makes for difficult running. So I’ll stick to the gym where it is climate controlled. I also read your about page and the banting diet. Sounds like a ketogenic diet, which I did last year.

    1. AvatarBill (Post author)

      Hi Glen the Banting diet is very like the Keto diet in fact I tell people I am on a Keto diet because it is more widely known.

      When you say last year did it not work for you?

  3. AvatarChristina

    17 miles!!! Wow! That is commitment. The thought behind your run shows how committed you are to your training! I’m lucky if I make it half a mile! Keep going strong my friend!!

    1. AvatarBill (Post author)

      Thank you Christina if you had told me 18 months back I would be running 17 miles I would have laughed at you, I too could not run a half mile, it all starts with a walk then a short run then a walk and so on, eventually that half mile will seem to fly by.

  4. AvatarGenesis

    Have you tried taking electrolytes before your run? I know that can help a bit in some cases.
    It sounds like you’re really pushing it! 17 miles is no mean feat and with the dedication you’re showing, I have no doubt you’ll ace that race. It’s not easy, but with the training you’re doing, it is most definitely possible.

    1. AvatarBill (Post author)

      When I did the 15 mile run I had electrolyte powder in my hydration pack, I did not have any on the 17 mile run so it was just plain water, I will have some in this Sunday it is a 20 mile run.

      I have been lucky enough not to miss a training run, I only hope I can keep it up now that I have started working again.

  5. AvatarAllie

    Very impressive – Marathon training is seriously hard work. And with the heat wave as you said it is going to make it that much harder. Was the humidity high that day? I live in Hong Kong and just walking up the road can make me breathless if the humidity is a bit higher than normal – regardless of being in the shade or not.
    Good luck with the rest of your training.

    1. AvatarBill (Post author)

      We have had the heat but not the humidity, which is a blessing. I nearly got to Hong Kong when I was a young man in the Royal Navy but the ship developed a problem and we had to go back to Singapore.

      I only have three mire long runs to do before the race, they will be increasing by three miles.


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