Today’s long run was a solo effort in the afternoon around the spectacular Lake Macquarie. It’s a rare treat to run long in the afternoon. As a kid and a single man this was my usual training time but family life has created a more efficient use of time and making the most of the mornings are critical.

With 4 long runs left to go today’s run was a valuable opportunity to test the bodies adaptations for fatigue. While it is impossible to exactly replicate the conditions of a 42.2km race in training the long run is the most specific type of training for the marathon. The limiting factor for me in a marathon has never been my speed but rather my ability to maintain reasonable speed for the full duration of the race. Completing the final 3 4 long runs well provides gives me the confidence that all the training is coming together.

Probably my favourite long run is a little inaccessible at present being at Falls Creek. I recall running the full 36k Pretty Valley loop in my second visit to ’Fall’s in January 2004. My tour guides were Lee Troop, Rod de Heighden and Shane Nankervis. All of the aforementioned were experienced marathoners while I had just completed my debut in December ’02. The full Pretty Valley loop was a rolling run with plenty of challenges. I recall running the final stages of this run and Troopy takes off like a bull at a gate closing out the run with a 9:00min 3k section on a dirt road! I was impressed with this running as our run was already quick enough at close to 4:00min per km!

While Troopy’s surge was not the full marathon distance at marathon pace it demonstrated his ability to run at his goal marathon pace at the end of the run. It was a valuable lesson from one of Australia’s great sub 2:10 marathon men* (of which there are just 5). As a rookie marathoner the experience of running with Troopy, Rod and Shane in January 2004 was critical in my breakthrough later that year and beyond.

Lake Macquarie at sunset