Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Great Langdale Mountain Marathon Champion Steven Prentice Writes For RicksRunning On His Training And Race Victory

Hello - Rick,

I have put some words together with a quick description of how I managed Langdale this year.....


Langdale Training Plan

It was a surprise to me to win the Great Langdale Marathon, and I didn't really have a specific training plan for the race to write about. My philosophy with running is to enter a race each month in the year to give me a focus and reason to put my trainers on when it is raining. Langdale marathon was my 19th race for the year, the 2 races previously being the Great North Run one week before the marathon and the Great Scottish Run, half marathon 3 weeks before it. I got a Personal Best half marathon time in the Scottish one (1:17:23). I have completed Langdale 4 times previously and knowing the course and my recent times I was aiming to finish 5 minutes quicker than last time, in 3:10 and maybe based on previous results this would get me near a 3rd place.

Overall my goal this year is to have completed 3 or 4 marathons, and my training up until May was building and maintaining a good stamina base with typically 2 club sessions a week (a long session (up to 3 miles) and a speed session (up to 1 1/2 miles)) depending on the whim of the coach, with two or three, 10km training runs, and races. Paces for these sessions would be as hard as possible for the club sessions and the 10km runs at a target pace of 10mph, or 6 minute miles. This early training allowed my to completed the Edinburgh Marathon in 2:53 in May.

In June I became a dad for the first time which is brilliant but does cut down on the amount of time I can spend on long runs. June being a critical month for a marathon in October, 4 months before race day is the time I should be increasing my training, sleep deprived and spending time with the baby isn't a good start. The base I had built for Edinburgh worked well though and I have managed to carry the fitness through to October with the reduced training.

In June my training has changed, instead of getting the train home after work I have made my commute home as my training, and one run at the weekend - a race, 5km 'parkrun' or a long Sunday morning run. The shortest run home is 2.2 miles and with added loops and extra bits this can take the route home up to 6 or 7 miles, I run 4 times a week after work plus one night a week a double session with a run home and then the club session - the other club session has turned into baby bath time!! In April I bought some Vibram five fingers barefoot shoes which I have added into my training. The commute I do with a few pounds of work clothes in a backpack

That is how I arrived at my training for the Langdale Marathon and a typical week in the 16 weeks leading up to the Marathon would be something like this:

Monday: Short run, 2.2 to 3.5 miles in Vibram five fingers

Tuesday: 4 miles in trainers

Wednesday: 6 to 7 miles in trainers

Thursday: 2.2 miles in Vibram five fingers then a club session (shorter speed work)

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Parkrun or Rest

Sunday: Long run, Race or Rest. The rest depends if I ran on the Saturday

Sunday Long Runs:

1 week before: Half Marathon race

2 Weeks before: 10 miles, marathon pace

3 weeks before: Half Marathon Pace

4 weeks before: 16 miles marathon pace

5 to 16 weeks before: 10km runs or 5km Parkruns on Saturday

This has been giving me a meagre weekly mileage of about 20 to 25 miles for most of the time. July and August had me running only 2 other races, a 7km race and a 10k race though June I competed in a series of 4 races (12 place in the last 10k out of about 1000 – just showing off there)

After the 2 half marathons I rested on the Monday and Tuesday (taking the train home), and then carried on with running home from work.


This is as important I think as running miles and miles for the marathon. Make sure your fuel tank is full before you set off and you can go further before the body says to slow down and refuel (hitting the wall). Generally I eat well. For the week leading up to the marathon there is a lot written about carbo loading, however for that week I look at it as if I need to fill my fuel tank to the brim - so I will just eat bigger portions of my usual food... forget large plates of plain pasta, cous cous and rice with a disproportionate amount of meat to go with it - just make mine a larger portion of everything for that week - my view on carbo loading is that it is fine if you stick to it by the letter bit for the average runner they arn't going to do that - for the week before a marathon, don't change anything including what you eat. The morning of a marathon I enjoy a bacon and egg bun, cup of coffee and as a concession to runners, a bag of jelly babies. This years Langdale was no exception with a real bacon and egg bun in the little chef - the egg yolk did run down my arm properly.

During the race I carried 8 energy gels. These have about 100 calories or 1 mile of energy in them, the wall happens at about miles 18 to 21 where the body runs out of energy so I reckon I need 6 to 8 extra miles of energy with me - I took 1 gel every 4 miles for the first 14 and then every 3 miles after that, leaving 1 spare for emergencies. Langdale marathon is old school in a way that the water stops are just that - water, no sports drinks, electrolytes, or anything fancy, just 3 smiling faces and a plastic beaker of water - anything else you have to carry and take the litter home again.

And did it work? Well I think something worked on the Saturday, I felt good all the way and was told that I looked strong at the half way point, I pretty much led from the top of 'Rocket Rods Pass', and would have been 7th in the half marathon! I was overtaken at about mile 17 but pulled the distance back and at mile 22 we were running together until mile 24 1/2 where I managed to pull away on the deceptive hill at Chapel Style and was stronger to the finish. So something worked well for me.


I like to pretend that I am invincible like we all do, and tried to run on the Tuesday which resulted in 2 legs with very tight tendons, Wednesdays 2 mile run home was aborted after a mile and I rested until the Monday, 8 days after the race where I did a 3 mile run home feeling OK (tired from no sleep but running felt good). And what next, well Langdale was marathon 2 for the year, marathon 3 is two weeks afterwards and I am feeling recovered to think I can have another good go at a marathon, though sensible head says to run round with another from my club and enjoy the day - I have already got a good marathon result under my belt this year and don't need to push hard as much now. The next big goal is to do something I will never have chance to do ever again and that is to run a race as a defending champion!! I will try very hard to defend my win next year and to see a better runner take the win - and they deserve it, anyone who can complete that course has done something quite special and very very hard.

And that is how I arrived in the form that I did to win the Langdale Marathon, I hope you find it an interesting read and if I can leave with one but of advice.... try your hardest to win a race because it really, really did feel good,


Ewen said...

20 to 25 miles a week! Makes my 35 - 45 miles a week look massive! Scotty wouldn't even get out of bed to run 25 miles a week.


Maybe Scottish miles are longer than Aussie miles! :0]

Scott Keeps Running said...

"try your hardest to win a race because it really, really did feel good."

Love this advice. :)

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