Long Run Strategy

As I mentioned before, I don’t know much about long run strategy. 

Based on my limited experience with building up mileage week by week, I know that I shouldn’t expect to be able to maintain pace at the end of a new distance.  There were long runs leading up to San Diego last year where I all but crawled the last two miles. 

I hope that this time around, there might be some muscle memory that  will make the ends of those longer runs a bit more bearable.  But until today, I hadn’t planned to do anything to counteract the weekly meltdown.

I went to the Team in Training group run this morning, planning to run 10 of their scheduled 12 miles.  I fell into pace with Greg, their typical leader of the pack.  When I mentioned I was planning to turn around early to make it 10, his response was, “what’s two more miles?” 

My gut reaction: “IT’S TWO MORE MILES!” But then I thought about it… it’s two more miles.  Two more miles that I needn’t necessarily worry about keeping on pace, but miles that if run today, might be easier crank out next week.  Hmmm.  So I let Greg drag me along.  As I suspected, it got tougher after 8, but I did my best to play the mental toughness game.

At 9 miles, Greg split off of the marked course to run a full 18 miles.  At that point, I was 3 miles from the car, and was traveling 12 miles whether I ran, walked, or hitch-hiked back.

I finished my scheduled 10 miles at a steadyish pace (last mile 8:35) but then eased up.  I took a nice break at the water stop at about 10.75 miles before heading back to the finish.  The last two miles averaged just under 9:00 pace, and – hooray! I didn’t feel miserable at the finish!

So just like all of last year, I ran the last last two miles at a slower pace than the rest of the run.  But because it was a controlled slowdown, and because I ran all of the “scheduled” miles at a decent pace, I have a totally different mindset about it.  We’ll see if this still sounds like a good idea as the runs get longer and tougher, but for now I really like this theory.   Right now, my calves are screaming and my stomach feels gross – but that’s nothing new.  This still seems to make sense.

Disclaimer: if I get to next week and miles 10-12 are anything but smooth and steady, I may reevaluate this master plan.  I see absolutely no point in adding on bonus miles “for fun.”  Because, friends, I don’t even LIKE long runs! What is wrong with me?

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About stillarunner

I used to run. Some days, I even ran fast. Then I got a job. And met a boy. And bought a house. And rescued a dog. And rescued another dog. And went back to school. And created human life. I might not run every day, or even every week. There’s a good possibility that I will never be fast again. But I’m still a runner.
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One Response to Long Run Strategy

  1. Em says:

    Sarah,

    Are you lifting? If not, do it. I had a realization after my 1/2 last Sunday (something that I should have known anyway). When comparing the super-awesome 1/2 that I ran last spring with this one (still successful, but not super-awesome), I realized that throughout last spring, I was lifting three days a week. The added strength absolutely made a difference through those last miles.

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