The Long Run
I’m planning to run my first marathon in 3 weeks, and I ran my last long run this weekend.
I ran the full 26.2 miles at a decent pace — three hours twenty minutes on a hilly course. I’ve gotten in pretty good shape just going out for thirty minutes to an hour a day, 3 days a week, then following the long run schedule suggested by Cool Running. I’m not trying to go blazing fast, I just want to build up so I can run far. I’m hoping to run a race like the Leadville Trail 100 by the time I’m 40, so I’ve got some work to do.
But this run was hard. It was the only hard workout I’ve had, and I’ve been training since August. I know, it’s good to work hard and all of that. Despite that, if you’re really in shape for a marathon it should feel pretty good. If you are falling apart at the end you made a mistake.
So I made some mistakes on this run. My goal setting out was to run at an easy 8 minute per mile pace for the first 13 miles, then pick it up to 6:50 miles for the rest of the run. It work fine until mile 22, when I shut down and felt like I was killing myself just to keep my “easy” pace. Here is what went wrong.
I didn’t take walk breaks
It sounds ridiculous, but I believe that because I didn’t stop to walk every once in a while, I ended up running slower. On all my earlier long runs, I would walk 2 to 5 minutes every 25 minutes. This gave me a chance to recover a bit, get some food in my stomach, and start again refreshed. I was never very tired at the end of a run, and I always felt like I could just keep going.
This time I took no walk breaks, and I came really close to not finishing my run.
I set out too fast
When I started, I felt good and ran about 20 seconds per mile faster than I planned. My heart rate was only in the 150′s, so I didn’t think it was a problem. But combining this with my failure to take breaks was putting my body through a workout it had never seen before. Both of these factors led to the third, most important problem
I ran too fast to eat
In all of my earlier training runs, I would eat during my breaks. I’d titrate the carbs, protein, and fats to make sure I was getting enough, and I never ran out of energy. On this run, I didn’t take breaks, I was running fast enough that I was breathing harder than usual, and I just couldn’t eat what I needed. I’d get cramps or nausea and just skip the food.
I’m pretty sure that is why I could barely lift my legs around mile 22. I really had no energy and I had never trained in this depleted state.
Well, I still made it in and managed to get a negative split. I’m glad I didn’t learn these lessons on the race day. But now I have to figure out the right way to run the race.