I ran my half marathon when I was a senior in high school. I ran my first marathon my freshman year of college. The difference... I ran an average of 7:26 min/mile for the half marathon, and 7:18 min/mile for the marathon. I ran my marathon with an average that was faster than my half marathon. Why is there so much of a difference in one year? Here's the main reason, I actually trained a couple months for the marathon, compared to the no training for the half marathon. When I ran the half marathon, I was only prepared to race a 3.1 mile race, not a 13.1 and I was fortunate enough to semi-pace myself in order to finish the race. For the marathon, I was able to train hard core and work to get to where I needed to be for my first marathon.
When you run a half marathon, you can get away without training as much. However, when it comes to running a marathon, most of the time, you can't just up and run that long. Running a marathon means hitting the wall and running 6.2 miles beyond what the human body is capable of without proper training. With that two months of training, I was able to get through to 19 miles in a decent speed, but even with the training that I did, my right quad started to go out, then at mile 21, my left quad started to go out. By mile 23, my calves were acting up and I was tempted to stop, but because of the training that I did, and my will to keep on going, I managed to make it through the marathon... suffering the post marathon soreness.
Running a marathon requires even harder training than a half marathon. It requires the individual to go beyond their limit. In order to achieve that, your training has to get to the 20 mile point. Before the race, I ran three 20 milers, and ran a little bit the day after the run. I didn't go hard, but I made sure that I would get the distance down. During the training stage, it's important to get the body used to the distance, rather than the speed, and work speed on a different day. In training, there are long runs for stamina, and short runs for speed. The goal is to train separate and by the time race day comes, put both of them into good use, and race with that. Dividing is the way you train, and the race is where you conquer. Train one part at a time, and eventually, the whole comes along just fine.
Today, I didn't get any exercise down because yesterday I had that couple hours of floor hockey. Tomorrow, I'm planning on going out in the morning and running an hour or so, and just take it easy, getting my feet used to running that long distance. The next few weeks are going to have to be long distance training, so that I would be ready for the 12 hour race. Tomorrow is just the beginning, and it'll get worse as time goes by. If my plan is to be able to run pretty much continuously for 12 hours, I'm going to have to get to a point where I run 4 hours a day for more than 3 days. I plan on rocking this race, and in order to do that, I need to train like a madman... Beast I need to be, a beast I will become.