I had a chance to speak to Norfolk running coach Paul Evans recently who gave me a really good tip on tempo runs and how to use parkrun as a tempo run to simulate marathon fatigue.

Paul has left Active Norfolk now and is doing his own thing as a running coach, and we keep trying to get together for a coffee (will definitely be in touch btw Paul)

Basically I was telling him how I had cut my marathon training down to three runs a week with some cross training in between (the truth is though that the cross training bit is not as disciplined as it should be so I’m lying to myself there, but that’s because North Norwich needs its own swimming pool in my ever so humble as Riverside and UEA is too far away despite the NDR taking all the traffic off the ringroad).

Anyway, (rant over) I never normally do a parkrun the day before my Sunday long run, but Paul’s tip was that it could be good thing to try, particularly as I was doing fewer runs per week.

Tempo running

Tempo running is all pretty new to me – or certainly taking it seriously and adding it to my marathon training is, though I have flirted with my own version of fartlek running. Paul’s thinking about how to use parkrun as a tempo run to simulate marathon fatigue was this – jog for a mile (or two) to Catton parkrun, do the parkrun as a tempo run – ie you should only be able to say one or two words while running – jog home as your warm down. Then go for your long run the next day.

What that does, he explained, is to simulate the kind of fatigue you will feel during your marathon.

So a couple of weeks ago I gave it a try. Normally when I do parkrun I don’t really go for any time, but I’ve been focusing a lot on speed this year – again a by product of the Longdale Strider sessions which I’ve been going to.

Faster finishing

And much to my amazement I finished in about 23.47 – which I was pretty chuffed with as usually I’d say 25.00 is a good park run time for me.

All of this comes off the back of my Hughes Sublime Swaffham 10k time I posted of 48 minutes when I actually got involved in a sprint finish, so I actually think good things are happening.

But what about the long run the next day? I headed out for a 10 mile run into the city and then back out along Marriott’s Way to Drayton and then home. Yes the legs felt it, but actually I think it was a good simulation of marathon race conditions; I had to stop for a bit, walk a bit, stretch a bit, take in water, all of things you have to do when you’re running 26 miles. But crucially I kept going, and I’m realising now that the Richmond marathon in September is going to have to be run in blocks like this if I’m to stand any realistic chance of a decent finish without buggering myself up as I did in Edinburgh.

What I’m not sure about is whether to keep doing it when I get into the really long runs – may be I’ll try one again when I reach the 15/16 mile mark. But all being well I am planning to have another go this Saturday, though I’m still getting over a cold, and do 11 miles on Sunday.

Club runners swear by parkruns for marathon training (apparently)

All of this was pretty new to me – but then I got talking to a Norwich Road Runner, who told me that lots of the club runners there swear by parkruns for marathon training sandwiching the tempo bit between the three or four miles, and may be even a bit more either said.

Who knew?

Has anyone else got any tips on how to use parkrun as a tempo run to simulate marathon fatigue – or even as part of your marathon training?