Last Sunday (30 July), I ran the in the Sri Chinmoy ‘Gungahlin Gallop’. It’s a 30 km trail run, along the Centenary Trail from the Hall Show grounds to the summit of One Tree Hill and then out along the ACT/NSW Northern border as far as Oak Hill, overlooking the new Suburbs of Casey, Jacka and Forde. At the start of the race we were informed the course distance had been underestimated and was more like 31km. My GPS watch measured 32.36km! The second climb up to the top of One Tree Hill was pure torture!
This was the first of my long ‘aerobic threshold’ runs in preparation for the New York marathon. It was a tough but very pretty course and at one point I was racing a large kangaroo – he out-ran me (or should I say out-hopped?).
The great thing was – at the end of the run I felt quite strong, and for the first time felt I could probably ‘do this’ – run 42.2km! The other great thing was that I barely noticed any low back or leg pain after the first 5km. Over the next few days I did notice it a little, as well as significant DOMS (delayed muscle soreness from exercise) in my quads.
Running that trains the aerobic energy system is meant to be slow. While I did hold back a little, the race last Sunday was not, strictly speaking, ideal for this, but it sure boosted my confidence and I will stick to LSD (long, slow distance) from now on. The occasional shorter races coming up such as the 14km Sydney City to Surf on 13 August and Canberra Times 10km on 3 September will give me a chance to practice running faster. This and my weekly interval training!
Training the aerobic threshold is a vital aspect of marathon training. A higher threshold allows a runner to utilise fat as a source of energy for longer and this helps reduce the risk of running out of energy, as opposed to a runner relying more on glycogen stores within the muscles.
The higher the threshold, the faster and longer you can run before crossing the line into anaerobic metabolism, a zone that cannot be sustained for a long period.
Long slow runs build this threshold without subjecting the body to injury and fatigue that long hard runs risk doing. Recovery time is also much shorter.