Today I have to run for three hours: sound intimidating?
It does to me, every single time I have to run one. But they're also very exciting. They are a superb mental and physical challenges requiring focus and dedication.
I've done quite a few of these over the years, including some that came after cycling six hours or about 180 kilometres earlier that day. Ah the good old Ironman days. The biggest lesson I've learnt is that you truly complete these by simply putting on one foot in front of the other.
These big sessions don't come around that often. In 2008 I did seven of them: three in preparation for the Vancouver Marathon in May and four in preparation for the Victoria Marathon in October.
Now I am again preparing for the Vancouver Marathon in May - and I have five 3-hour runs before the big day. You can see that the number of 3-hour sessions has increased in the past year. Since July 2006 I've run five marathons, with the slowest 3hr5min and the fastest one 3hr07min about every six months.
While slightly intimidated, I must admit that I was also extremely excited when I saw my training program for the first time and noticed that it included five of these monster sessions. It means that my coach believes my body is ready to take on a bigger training load, as my body has been holding up well (knock wood).
Even so, Pat has added extra days off in my training program. That means some weeks I will only run on four days, instead of five days a week. My overall weekly volume is about 80 kilometres a week.
Today I plan to follow the same course I have been doing for my other runs - out and back. As I've mentioned before, it is easier to deal with running that far mentally when you break it up into pieces. A 90-minute run is manageable. So I simply think about my 3-hour run as two 90-minute runs.
And most of all, I keep focused on the goal of this big training session: improve my marathon and try to get closer and closer to that goal of a sub-3 hour marathon.
Did I mention that I also have a half hour easy run later this afternoon? That means my total volume today will probably approach an entire marathon.
OK, time to stop typing about running and head out the door!