On Wednesday night I had the worst long run of my life, no- the worst run of my life. There wasn’t one big thing that I did wrong, but a compilation of things that I could have done better. It was a huge let down, but I learned a lot and am ready to put it behind me and get back on track for my upcoming goals.
Back story: when I first started working with my extremely talented coach, Chris, he asked for my short term and long term goals. Short term: run a half marathon in under 1:30. Long term: run a marathon in sub 3:25. As the training continued, Chris set a new marathon goal based on my potential of 3:09, which put me at a 7:13 marathon pace.
It didn’t go according to plan. I crashed before mile 10 and stopped more times than I can count. I ended up with 17 miles at 7:20 pace, but didn’t even attempt the second part of the workout. I cried a couple of times and threw up before going to bed, which is something I never do from running.
I’m writing this now with a smile on my face, not only because I’m ridiculous for crying over a Wednesday night run, but I’ve already moved on. So instead of dwelling on what went wrong here’s what I learned from my terrible long run:
I’m a morning runner, I should stick to that
I did this run in the afternoon despite the fact that I am a morning runner. The morning is when I am awake and most focussed. By the end of the day, my legs are tired and my feet are swollen because my job keeps me up and moving. I should have done it in the morning.
I train better solo
This one is hard to accept because I love the social aspect of running. But I am a strong believer in the difference between running and training. I love running with other people, but focus better when I train alone. When I initially saw this workout, I sent a public service announcement on Facebook looking for someone to run with me. Misery enjoys company, right? Well, I found a taker and she joined me for the first 7 miles. I really enjoyed running with her, but my mind was all over the place and I was done for the second she turned around.
I require a lot of calories
I thought I had eaten more than enough throughout the day, but I could feel myself running on empty around the 10th mile. It’s hard for me to find the perfect balance of not eating too much while having enough fuel to get me through the run. I am now finding, in marathon training, there is no such thing as “too much” of the right food. My lunches might seem monstrous to my co-workers, but most days I’m not even full when it’s gone. Forget the judgement, I’m packing two lunch boxes.
I benefit from a set route
I like to have a solid idea of where I’m going on my run to better mentally prepare me for what’s to come. On Wednesday, I got a little lazy. I didn’t plan my run so I ended up turning around early and cutting it short. This meant that I had to pick up the extra miles at the end, which is my long run nightmare.
I need rest, not just sleep
Not only had I not slept well the week leading up to this run, but I hadn’t really been resting my legs either. I’m notorious for riding my bike or going to the gym on my “total rest days” or even going for walks with my niece-dog. These activities are less strenuous that running, but my legs need actual rest. I follow a blog called Pace with Grace and I love her recent post on rest.
I need to bring water
It is fall here in Tennessee, but at 4:00 p.m. it was in the low 90’s. I was desperate for water by mile 8. When I was in Aspen training for the Amsterdam Marathon, I developed the rule of carrying water and nutrition with me every time I ran over 45 minutes. I knew I was going to be running for at least 2 hrs and didn’t bring a thing. Where’s my logic these days?
I put way too much pressure on myself
The more you put into something, the more you have riding on it. I’ve been putting too much into this marathon training. My heart and soul is a lot to lose. That’s the problem. That thought alone means that I’ve got off track and started running for my own glory. When I am running for the glory of the Lord, does it matter if I don’t kill it in my long runs? No. It’s not going to make Him any less Himself or any less pleased with me.
I should learn to be more emotionally disconnected
I didn’t realize this until I read a post yesterday. I follow a blogger called “Minutes Per Mile” out of Nashville, who recently wrote on “How to become a Less Emotional Runner.” I hadn’t thought about how much emotions can affect your mental game during a race, but it made me realize how much my emotions have been holding me back.
I have to make an effort to heal
After this run, I wanted to stay up and blog, but my body literally wouldn’t let me. I fought off going to bed for about thirty minutes and then finally got it through my head that I desperately needed time to heal through sleep. I woke up the next morning, did a little yoga, and foam rolled. The extra sleep plus measures of healing (compression socks, too) helped tremendously. I see such a difference in how fast I bounce back when I take these measures.
After this run, Chris changed my marathon goal to a sub 3:15 and asked me not to race on Sunday. Ouch. It kind of hurt to read that, but I have to accept/respect where I am and remind myself that the victory is not by my own strength. I can’t do all of these perfectly, but reflecting after my run has already brought me much more hope and perspective for my training ahead.
What have you learned from your training?
Tell me about your worst run
Do you run better by yourself or with others?
Are you a morning or afternoon runner?