Saturday I ran a 16 miler. My training plan had me running only a 14 miler at a 9 1/2 minute per a mile pace. I ended up running 16 miles, and at an average pace of 8:32. Last week, I ran the same exact route at an average of 8:52 and an overall time of of 2:21:57. I beat that time by 5 minutes and 30 seconds this week with a finishing time of 2:16:27. I felt really good the entire run, and probably could’ve gone a bit faster. (there’s always next week though, right??)
(tired but HAPPY after my long run!)
A long run is supposed to be to get your body used to going the distances as it preps you for the marathon. I have read that you are supposed to go about a minute slower than you would for your actual race. I have also read-a little contrast here- that as long as you are hitting the total miles that you want to, pace isn’t as important as the mileage total. So, if you run 20 miles at a 10 minute per a mile pace and your goal is to run a marathon at an 8 minute pace, it doesn’t matter because you just hit the distance you wanted to run. Hmmm…
It really is true that if you want to hit your goal paces during a race–you have to spend some time running there. If I want to run a 1:30 half marathon, or a 3:30 full, these paces will not come magically out of my well rested legs if I have been doing longer runs at paces like 9 or 10 minute miles. This is why runners mix up their training with things like intervals, tempos, sprints, and Yassos-you get your used to running faster paces without completely killing yourself in the process.
If I’m being honest….I ran the majority of my long runs while I was training for Boston at an easy pace that was comfortable for me-some days it was an average of a 9 minute mile, and some weeks it would be 10. During my Hyannis training, some of those long runs were done on a treadmill, therefore forcing me to go faster and my overall times for all of my long runs were faster. The result was a slower time for Boston, and a speedy finish for Hyannis.
Now, a lot of different things factor into your race day: weather, wait times, lack of sleep, if you have an upset stomach and feel like you might poop your pants, PMS, emotional stress that weighs on your mind from something personal on your life….Basically: no two races of yours will ever be the same. You can feel super duper inspired and run your best times ever. You could also have a totally craptastic race after you’ve had one million training sessions that you felt like you were on fire. Shit happens.
Anyway: I had a lot of the above mentioned “things” going on in my brain during Boston. Emotionally, I was ready to get the hell out of there. Being like 10 feet from the bombs the previous year did not exactly have a calming effect on me, at all. So I did pretty crappy (for me) at Boston. Hyannis, I ran my current PR, but I still felt a little “off” from no sleep and a sore foot.
I truly feel that the difference from one race to another was my long runs. I was bad ass for Hyannis…for Boston…eh….not so much. I could have done better. It’s not that I didn’t want to do better, it was more that I was tired of running in the cold, tired of winter…and maybe
definitelya bit lax with pushing myself.
The point of this long winded tale is that I am trying to “step it up” with my long runs. Only doing long, slow long run distances will produce a long, slow runner. And I want to be faster and BQ at Baystate: I cannot be slow. I have to keep pushing myself because progress comes to those who want it. To quote Eric Thomas:
Yes…this. Slacking off and only taking it ways will not make me faster. When I want a BQ as much as I want to breathe… this is when it will come. Because for me: running didn’t come naturally. I’m not a tall gazelle who ran track like a beast in high school. I started off as a slow, slow, runner and turned myself into a faster one over time. With that came a lot of hard work, and a ton of effort. But I am NEVER giving up my dream of getting my own BQ….