Lessons from the Long Run

14 miles in the books today. Well, 13.8. Ugh. It wasn’t good. Although I plugged in my watch and looked at my overall time and splits and apparently it didn’t suck as much as I thought.

Let’s look at the splits:
Park Point out and back
16:02 – warmup/I got bridged right at the beginning and had to wait around a bit.
14:18 – I wanted to finish the first four miles in under an hour and came close, but this is faster than it should have been, if I was running smartly. It felt fine though.
15:16 – I walked a little bit here and had a Starburst.
14:43 – Another Starburst here I think.
16:17 – Walked a bit and had another Starburst, felt nauseated.
22:06 – Stopped at my car right at the beginning of this mile
14:48 pace for the last 0.8 miles
Overall pace: 15:49

I kind of thought the overall pace would be slower but it wasn’t. It’s not great and I was clearly fading at the end. I was fading mentally more than anything else, because if I pulled myself together, I could get my pace back up. So I have to figure that out.

A couple of other things I need to correct before next weekend’s 16 mile run:

1. I need a hand-held water bottle. I was never in danger of getting dehydrated or anything, but a few sips of water would have made a huge difference mentally.

2. Starbursts are tasty but are not a good candy for eating on the run. It might have been better if I had been able to take a few sips of water after eating pieces of candy but probably not. They’re too sticky and the wrappers are annoying to deal with, and they triggered my gag reflex a little as their taste was too intense. I probably need some mints or something instead.

3. I need to try out a different strategy. Maybe a Galloway-style run-walk? I don’t know. I also need to not stop for 6 minutes.

Next weekend is make-or-break time. If I have another crappy and disappointing long run, I’m not ready for a marathon, and I’ll focus on speed for the 5-Miler and then work on training for Mankato. I wish I could trust that I will run faster in the marathon than I am now in training, but I don’t.

Week 9 Update

Week 9 was a sad, sad training week.

A quick recap:
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5.25, 8x hills
Wednesday: 6, trail
Thursday: 5.3, road
Friday: 4.8, road, 2 miles @ medium pace
Saturday: 4.9, road, ugh
Sunday: 3.4, road, even more ugh
Total: 29.6 (planned: 38)

Well, ew. What started off as a great training week crashed and burned on the weekend.

Saturday started out fine and then my GI system revolted and I ended up walking quite a bit and making an emergency stop at a gas station. I still got the mileage I needed done, and was on track to have a great week. All I had left was the long run.

Sunday I was supposed to do 14 miles. I got up, did a little homework, ate a plain bagel with no cream cheese (wary of stomach issues, since Saturday I’d eaten a bagel & cream cheese and then had a latte a couple hours before running… apparently my coffee worked too well and for longer than I thought), and walked to the convenience store by my house to get some sports drinks and some candy for the long run. I planned on using my house as an aid station of sorts and run some shorter loops, since I was so concerned about my GI system. I figured I’d do a 4-mile or so loop, drink some water/Powerade, refill my candy supplies, and head out for a 6 mile loop, then another stop, and then a 4 mile loop.

After 1 mile I knew I couldn’t do it. My stomach was fine (I know this after the fact), although I was still nervous about it, but I had absolutely no drive to put one foot in front of the other. It was raining/misting and only in the high 30s. I was feeling horribly guilty about the homework (actually a take-home test) I still had to complete (due today!) I mentally did not have it, and after a mile I turned around, intending to go home. I decided to push myself a little bit more, because I couldn’t have a 2-mile run on the books for the day. It might as well have been a rest day at that point. I was right at the bridge over Chester Creek on 9th/8th street, so I went down to the trail and hiked up to the Skyline bridge, then jogged back down to 9th/8th on the road. I’d already mentally quit, so I headed back home at that point.

From my splits, it’s clear I was dragging and nothing was working: 15:51, 20:08 (uphill on the trail), 16:06, and a 16:52 pace for the last 0.4 miles, with an overall heart rate of 142 bpm. Even last Tuesday, when I quit after 2.6 miles because of cramps and terrible weather, I still managed a 14:41 pace and 147 bpm (yes I realize I was zipping up the hills, but I was practically walking at other points, and I was still only 5 bpm above Sunday’s heart rate.) I made the right choice to throw in the towel, come home, and work on my homework instead. (Or, write this blog post, do my core work, and then work on homework.)

Just because it was the right choice doesn’t mean I was happy about it. The long run to me is the highest priority workout. I rank them as follows:
1. Sat/Sun long run
2. Tuesday hills
3. Friday “speed” workout
4. Wednesday medium run
5. Thursday and Sun/Sat short runs

14 miles was a huge deal for me. I was really looking forward to seeing where I was at with this run, and I guess I’m… totally not ready to run a marathon. Depressing. I can think of a couple contributing factors to my poor performance. Running in my old shoes has worn my legs out; I’m more sore after workouts than I have been in awhile. Last week’s cutback from a cutback is also a problem. I ramped back up too quickly, although if I hadn’t cut back so much, it wouldn’t have been a problem.

I’m going to try to repeat Week 9’s training plan instead of doing Week 10’s plan. Both call for 38 miles, but week 10 has a couple miles added to the weekday runs and then a 5-10K on Sunday instead of a long run. Since I raced a 5K last weekend, I would rather put in the 14 miles than another speed workout. The weather forecast is crummy all week, but the highs are all still in the 40s so it should be manageable.

Week Seven Update

Let me pat myself on the back for yet another awesome training week. And by awesome I mean I didn’t wimp out on any workouts.

A quick recap:
Monday: off
Tuesday: 5.3 miles, road, 6 hill repeats
Wednesday: 5.2 miles, road
Thursday: 4 miles, treadmill
Friday: 4.1 miles, Lakewalk, speed work
Saturday: 12 miles, road
Sunday: 2.9 miles, road/trail (Chester Bowl)
Total: 33.5 miles

Friday’s speedwork went well. I hit an overall pace of 12:35/mile, with about 3 miles of “medium paced” running. I feel like I’m in a good spot for my 5k this weekend. I doubt I can hold the speedwork pace for 3 miles (around 11 min/mile) but I think I’ll be able to be somewhere between my A and B goals.

Saturday was my first double-digit long run. It was not the best idea to plan it the day after my speedy day, but Saturday’s forecast was better than Sunday’s, and Sunday is my “desperately catching up on homework” day. So the first couple miles felt slow as molasses. My 2nd mile was the slowest pace (17:11) of the whole run, except for the one where I took a break. I planned an 8-mile loop, back to my house, followed by a 4 mile loop. My hips and my back were pretty sore the whole time, but as I turned off Rice Lake Road onto Central Entrance to head down the hill right before my break, I couldn’t stop grinning. It was a gorgeous day, the lake looked beautiful, and I was high on endorphins.

I planned a break at 8 miles just in case I had to pee or was dying of thirst. I had felt pretty thirsty toward the end of my 9 mile run last weekend, and I didn’t want to carry a hand-held water bottle, so I stopped at home for about 5 minutes. Somehow I still ended up with a “pace” for that mile of 19:23, which is faster than some of my trail running paces.

The last 4 miles felt pretty terrible. I made a kind of stupid route choice, with too much uphill. Maybe I am doing too many hills. That sounds lazy, but I also think it’s a valid question. I finished the run with an overall pace of 16:30 and an average heart rate of 151 bpm, so I didn’t push too hard and only lost about half a minute off my 9-mile pace, even with the break.

Sunday I ran as slowly as I could stand, and took it easy on my body by running down the Chester Creek path from Skyline to 9th. I stopped and took a picture of ducks.

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#chesterbowl #conservationofmomentum #trailrunning #ducks

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5K on Saturday. At 9 am. And it’s not going to be warm. Blahhhh.

Week Six Update

Hey, week 6 went well! I’m pretty pumped to have had two training weeks in a row where I didn’t wuss out on anything. I have very low standards.

I am very glad today is a rest day, although once I started moving around today I felt a lot better than I thought I would. My hips are suffering the most. I need an oil can. My lower back is a little stiff too. My legs and feet feel fine.

Monday rest
Tuesday 4.4 miles, road, hill repeats included
Wednesday 5.2 miles, road
Thursday 3.5 miles, road + trail
Friday 4 miles, Lakewalk, medium tempo run
Saturday 4.2 miles, trail
Sunday 9 miles, Lakewalk
Total 30.3 miles!

Thursday I took another stab at Chester Creek, and while it wasn’t entirely runnable, it was passable enough. It was just what I needed since I was getting kind of crabby about running.

The view on the way:

Trees bent over the creek:

I love living here.

Saturday I went to Hartley Nature Center, intending to do my 9 miler. That didn’t happen. There was still snow and ice in spots, and I wasn’t wearing my chains, so I slid around a lot and fell on my butt once. It was not a good feeling, especially since I was already feeling crummy from my “speed” workout from Friday. In places it was so muddy I was slipping as badly as I was on the ice, and half of the trails were closed due to mud. I shudder to think what kind of condition they were in if the sloppy messes I was on were still open. So I conceded I wasn’t going to get the 9 miles done (I was going slow as heck anyway, ended up with a pace under 3 mph!) and got to 4.

Sunday I got out of bed late, took much longer than expected to do homework, and practically had to drag myself out the door thanks to rather depressing-looking weather. It turned out to be much warmer than I thought so I felt a little better about the impending run. I went to the Lakewalk because I knew it was about 4.5 miles round trip and it had easy access to my car and to a bathroom, so I could bail if things sucked horribly halfway through and I could get a quick bathroom break if needed.

The run itself went ok. My hips hurt (mildly) through a lot of it, which caused me to question if I am overdoing this training and need to rethink my marathon plans. Considering I don’t feel like total crap today, I am disregarding those thoughts. It rained a little bit, but only lightly, so it didn’t bother me. At times the wind was demoralizing. Running straight into gust after gust of wind was unpleasant.

I managed to keep my heart rate relatively low (mid 140s) for the first 5 miles, but it crept up during the last 4, probably due to fatigue and to wind. I managed to hold myself back from pushing it for most of the run. At the end I wanted to see if I had another gear (because I was doubting myself and doubting my ability to complete a marathon upright), but after a few strides I slowed down, reminding myself that I wouldn’t be finishing much faster and I would feel worse the next day or even hurt myself.

Here are my splits:

Those last 4 miles were fairly consistent (for me), which is a good sign. I have been having a tough time maintaining a consistent pace. The fifth mile is a bit of an outlier because I was running straight into the wind for about half a mile. (I know I said I don’t like to make excuses, but it’s only an excuse for why my pace was a little off the surrounding miles. It’s not an excuses for slowness. THEY ARE ALL SLOW SPLITS.)

This upcoming week includes a 12 mile long run, which will be a nice test. I hope that I can keep the pace in the mid 15s again. Right now the most important thing for me on long runs is consistency and endurance, and then I can just pray the hills and tempo runs will bring that consistent pace down. A solid plan!