Longest Training Run Behind Me

December 20th, 2010, 6:00 am · Topics: Uncategorized · Print

I planned to run on Saturday, but the unfortunate combination of cold temperatures and periods of heavy rain forced me to push the run to Sunday. Moving a long run day throws a lot of things off. I don’t just have to plan for the duration of the run but for recovery time as well. I also adjust my eating patters before a long run to make sure I’m well hydrated and have been consuming plenty of carbohydrates.

I don’t know if due the delay or I was just having an off day, but this particular run was one of the most physically difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. I waited until the day had warmed the air from this sub-freezing temperatures. I was dressed in layers, but the temps didn’t feel too bad as I got into the run. There were still some icy patches on top of some of the bridges.

I ran strong for the first half, but tried to hold back. I didn’t really even look at my gps watch until I approached the half way point. In retrospect, I should have been consulting it more frequently. It looks like I went out too fast. Just after the 11 mile mark my heart started pounding and my energy waned such that I started walking some. At the 13 mile (half marathon distance) mark I started walking more than I ran.

My muscles were cramping and I was in some significant pain. Walking actually made this worse but trying to run at certain times was so hard that I had to stay with it. Also with the change in muscle effort came a change in my body temp. Layers that I had slowly decided to peel off before had to return.

Just past the 15 mile mark I dropped an energy gel packet and stopped to pick up. Bending down to get it was agony.

Somewhere passed this point I stopped adding running intervals entirely. The expenditure of energy needed to make a change in pace felt-wasteful when the point of this run clearly switched from training to getting it done.

I finished this “run” in 4 hours and 7 minutes (roughly an average of 12 mins/mile.) Afterward it was probably another 15 minutes of cool down walking, stretching, and trying to get some nutrients before I actually had the strength and energy to drive home.

Fortunately an experience like this is not a total loss. Here’s what I learned along the way:

They say you should respect the distance of anything over a half marathon and this certainly proves it to me. I’ll be even more careful to watch my eating and to rest properly prior to the marathon.

My nose runs faster than I do when I exercise in the cold. I’ve been carrying Kleenex, but these have been getting shredded. I think I’ll switch to carrying a couple of handkerchiefs.

The running pants I was wearing have a zipper on the side so you can remove them, if need be, during the run without taking off your shoes. That zipper irritates my left ankle and sometimes sinks down and gets wedged between my shoe and ankle. I need to find some different running pants or figure out how to secure that zipper for the marathon.

Watch that speed and keep it low early in the race. I can’t rely on my body to tell me how much effort I’m expending early on in a run. I feel good and it lies to me. If I’m feeling good after the half way mark then I can always pick up the pace then. But it’s very very difficult to recover from going out too fast to start with.

I now start the three week taper in preparation for the big event. My next long run is just 10 miles, then 8 miles, then 6. With my longest run of training being just 21 miles, there’s still 5.2 miles (7 km) of all new distance to cover on marathon day.

With any luck, this hard run will just be a blip when I think back over all the training that has gone into this marathon. I’m as nervous about the race as ever. But I’m going to start that race healthy and as well trained as I can be. Whatever happens after that, happens.

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