Great Wall marathon training

IMG_0839Just ten days until the Great Wall Marathon. I am half way through “the taper.” No madness yet. Today’s run was a tough one, likely my last tough one. A 20min easy warm up, 10x1min ‘fast’ with 2min recovery and ending with 20min easy. The air was crap so ran on the treadmill. Incline average about 4%.

Overall, the training has gone pretty well. And I am healthy, never a given at this stage of the training cycle. Already have my race packet (number, runner’s guide book, etc). This race has bib numbers on your back too, strange….Am I ready?

I really have no idea since this marathon is like no other. Been watching several YouTube videos recently about the race and they are extremely helpful. Full of views of the course and commentary.  A few are professionally done by the corp who organizes the race and several others were made by regular runners and their selfie-stick.

Regardless who made the video, all say the same thing, “this marathon will very likely be the hardest marathon you EVER run.” Ugh.

So, what does that mean? First, it means I am going to hurt, a lot. Steep climbs and downhills on stone are going to fry my hips, quads, hamstring, IT band, knees and the other muscles just above the knee. I’ve tried to mitigated the impact by running some stairs and inclines on the treadmill. But, I sadly think I failed to include these into my training early enough. And I never found a set of stairs inside a building to run.


I settled using several pedestrian bridge overpasses around the city but they are not very steep. Remember, Beijing is pancake flat. Guess running 10-20 sets here is better than nothing but next time find 5-10 flights of stairs.

Next, running this marathon means my finish time is irrelevant. The hills and descents are steep, so I “should” walk them. The flat sections I really shouldn’t ‘run’, but slow jog to conserve energy for the climbs. If I target a negative split, that may help me actually go slow, at least in the first half.

I hope this doesn’t happen in the first wave.

Oh, I fortunately did land in the first wave of runners. Think there are four waves, based upon previous marathon finishing times. This should help, since there are several tricky spots where we will congest, slow down and even come to a complete stop. Although I’m in the first wave, I will target to begin in the back of this wave.

Lastly, this means I must run smart. I’ve already mentioned trying to run a negative split, starting in the back of the firs wave, these are strategies to help keep the pace (and expectations) down. If I go out too fast I will hit that great “wall” hard and have to crawl the last miles, I mean kilometers.

On the plus side, my training has gone well. Completed 2 or 3  18 milers and three 20 mile long runs. Not much speed work this time but I feel I logged the miles to be in pretty good shape. At least with my basic endurance.

I was very lucky that I completed all but one LR (18) outside.


The air quality index (AQI) forecast is pretty reliable, so a few times, I moved the day of my LR to a better AQI day to allow me to run outside. More than 2 hrs on a treadmill is a royal pain. And for regular runs, I think I only had to run with a mask a few times. Normally, on bad air days, I’d jog down the road to the gym.

So, I’ll try to write next Thursday night, after I tour the course with a few thousand others. 2500 is the cap for the marathon,plus half and fun run. Keep your fingers crossed for cool temperatures on 21May. It was in the 80s last year and I don’t even want to think about that.

Focus on the positives…. It will be a stunningly scenic course.

Image result for images great wall marathon




About Scott

Training to qualify for the Boston Marathon and simplify our life, as a stay at home dad.
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