About half way through training for my first marathon, I've stalled. Only the first attempt, though. After clicking along well for 7 weeks, I had three weeks of my training going progressively off the rails.
I muddled through the 15 miler in week 8 despite torrential rain about halfway through and generally not feeling great through the run. The next week was supposed to be lighter, tapering down with a couple days of rest before having a simulated half marathon race. I was in the first week of two weeks of traveling at the time, which made running more difficult, but I did have the opportunity to run on a nice, mostly paved trail system in Virginia. I always feel like I'm in an Elder Scrolls game when I get to do some good trail running through wooded areas. Unfortunately, an even more serious case of physically not feeling it struck me that day. After 12 of the 13.5 miles I was aiming for, I just couldn't push it anymore.
The following week, I succumbed to the temptation to take a few days off while I was at the beach. My body probably thanked me for that, though.
After getting back from all my traveling, I decided I would go back a few weeks in the Hal Higdon training plan I'm working from. The first long run that I really had trouble with was the 15 miler, so I wanted to repeat that week of training. Two weeks in a row, I made that attempt and both times I ended up making it around 13.5 miles and stopping because it felt like I'd be doing more harm than good to my body. That could have been a mostly mental thing, but either way, it wasn't a great situation.
I'm now going back another couple weeks and just finished the light week before getting back into the weeks with 14 and 15 mile runs on Sunday. To try and outperform my previous pass through this stretch, I'm pursuing a course of aggressive hydration and heavy carb-loading, particularly coming into the weekends. Since my post on updating my ideas and practices around nutrition, I'm trying to do more and more research to make sure I'm fueling my body properly.
With the success I had my first time through the 14 mile run and how good I felt during and after that, I'm confident I can make this happen if I make a conscious effort to do the proper prep work. That said, if I can't get a good feeling through the next few weeks, I'll probably go to a different training plan with fewer weekly miles.
I'm pretty sure I can push myself to marathon distances, it's just a question of how to get there at this point.