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Newsletter - Friday 2nd March 2012

Dear Fetchies,

It's ironic (and not in a 10,000 spoons kind of way) that there have been no newsletters for a month or two - because there's actually been too much news. I've been updating the Training Log, adding the ability for you to track all different kinds of Kit, settling things in with Fetchpoint, handling a whole bunch of fun in the Forum, and doing my best to tune the site up to deal with the increasing mileage that you folks are recording.

In the absence of the Fetch newsletter, other reputable running organisations have been maintaining a high standard. Just this week I've read that some kinds of pizza have less fat than others, and that when running, you must remember to breathe. If this is the kind of thing you're looking for, can I suggest that a thorough approach to maintaining equal use of both your legs will pay dividends, and that wearing clothing of some kind will avoid unnecessary trauma and delay. Send me your tips and I'll publish the best ones.

It's that time of year when a lot of people are hitting their training peak for spring marathons, including the longest marathon of them all in London (I'm officially retiring that joke as of now). One of the rules often bandied around says that the mileage of your five longest runs should add up to 100. I looked at nearly 5000 individual marathon performances, and found that this really is a rule for the faster end of the pace spectrum. If you're aiming for a five hour time, then knocking out five runs that add up to 86 would be more than respectable.

And now on to long run pace. At the risk of serving up pizza-slice advice, training is about teaching your body to cope with (1) speed, (2) distance, (3) recovery, and (4) pizza. The trick is to get the balance right. I would say that long run pace is more important for people who train on five or more days a week, because there's less time for recovery, and potential for your speed training to be less effective, but if you're training for a marathon on three sessions a week, it's just a challenge to complete the mileage. There are some lessons to pick up - here's a graph showing how marathon pace relates to the average pace of our five longest runs:

Each column in the graph represents a group of runners, and each group will in itself contain a diverse approach to long run pace - but the trend is clear. If you're a 2hr30 marathon runner, your five long runs will be about 54s/mile slower than your race pace - but if you're a 5hr30 runner, you may well do your long runs about 74s/mile faster than you run your race. Is this just because we struggle with the longer distance on race day, or is it more to do with our over-eagerness in long run training?

I looked at each runner's longest training run pre-race, and at the average pace of each five mile segment. The fastest runners start out slowly, and show consistency and even a slight increase in pace as the run continues. The slower runners gut the pig inside the first five miles, and spend the rest of the run gradually slowing down. For example, the 5hr runners start running about 11% faster than marathon pace, but by the time they reach the 16-20 mile segment, they've slowed down to just 3% quicker than marathon pace.

I've had runs like that, and they hurt a lot. So my challenge to you is to spend a bit of time thinking about what sort of experience you want at your marathon, and how to shape your long runs to help you achieve that. If you can work out which end of a pizza to inhale, I'm sure you'll manage.

A quick but heartfelt mention for our advertiser this week. My dog Arnie came from the Windsor branch of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home back in October 2001. He's about 15 years old now, and although he's not quite popped his clogs, he's kicked three of them off, and is making the most of his retirement. He's been a great friend for many years, and the work that all animal charities do is worthy of your attention.

And finally if you'd like to see two pieces of data cross-bred into the newsletter of your dreams, or if you have a suggestion or problem, please send me some feedback.

Happy Running,

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