I'm not yet sure about my next race goal - half-marathon or marathon - but I still decided to try a new distance which can be helpful in either case (thinking overdistance training). Before yesterday, my longest run had been the half-marathon distance, around 21 km. After the first 11 km of my run, I committed to a distance of 26 km, which required me to turn around after the initial 13 km (I toyed with a goal of 28 km, didn't want to push too hard though).
The first 21 km had been relatively easy, the last 5 km however were very difficult and continually prompted me to give up and be satisfied with the half-marathon distance. The energy was still there, my legs were killing me though, I already saw cramps coming (although that never happened). After 26.2 km and around 3 hours of non-stop running (or jogging), I finished the workaround and managed to reach the goal of completing 26 km, quite satisfying indeed :)
This workout provided me with a foretaste of what to expect throughout a marathon and definitely made me appreciate the challenge of 1) finishing a marathon and 2) doing so in a reasonable time, more than ever before. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but quite frankly I didn't expect 5 km more to become much of a problem.
My previous training strategy was to run new distances for as long as they represent a major obstacle, so I'll do more 26 km workouts throughout the next weeks until I can safely say that I master the distance.
Thereafter, the next milestone might be the dreaded 32 km mark - where a marathon is said to begin and work against the runner. We'll see about that :)