Running is all mind games

I managed to eeeeek out 18 miles on Saturday, but let me just tell you it was not exactly fun…..

Most marathon training plans that I have seen advise doing a run of around 17-23 miles about 3 weeks prior to the big day, followed by a nice taper.  I've also read that for runners that pace >10 min per mile, the longest run should be 3 hours.  This article says that beyond 3 hours, there is not much more physical or aerobic benefit.

Last year, my soon-to-be-wed sister Kelsey and I did about 21 miles for our long run in a bit over 3 hours (around a 9 minute per mile pace).  This year is entirely different for me for a few reasns:

  1. My right knee is pretty busted (2 ACL surgeries, meniscus, and sh!tty cartilage)
  2. Because of #1, my stride has TOTALLY changed.  I've gone from a pretty solid RUN to a jog/shuffle/walk (as in, jog/shuffle 5 min, walk 1 min).  I'm telling myself that it's lower-impact.
  3. I have not run NEARLY as much as last year – maybe 70 miles under my belt over the last two months compared with about 160 miles over the same time period last year
  4. I'm training by myself 😦 my most consistent running partners (my sisters) are off in their respective big cities.

But, regardless of all these factors, four weeks from Monday I will be attempting to complete 26 miles.  I really need to run!

So, after throwing a baby shower for my oldest friend on Saturday, I decided to go for a 9-10 mile run, with the plan to do my LONG run the following week (which would  be 3 weeks prior to the race).  I put on my camel back, grabbed my iPod/ID/debit card, and headed out the door.

The weather Saturday was PERFECT – about 72 degrees and sunny, but not too bright when I started at 4:30 pm.  Diligently following my run 5/walk 1 minute plan left me feeling good at my planned turnaround point, so I decided to keep going.  Being 4.75 miles from home meant I had to run back at least 4.75 miles, so if I were to just keep going, I would still have to run home! 

Running is a mind game.  When running alone, in particular, it can really mess with your head! Train of thought…

  • "I can just walk for a mile, that will be OK"
  • "Why don't I just turn around now?"
  • "I've been running x minutes and gone y miles, but if I go faster I can get home sooner."
  • "Why am I running I hate running running is the worst why would I ever run I am so slow why should I even bother I will never finish a marathon"

The longest I have EVER run alone is 12 miles, and that was only because I had my running partner leave me 12 miles away from my car!  The thought of  doing 3 hours by myself was thoroughly daunting – enough to make me make myself run farther away from home so that I really didn't have the option to quit!

I ran along the river and ended up having quite an enjoyable time.  A couple of pit stops to refill one bladder and drain another got me up to 13 miles and ready to get home…if only I weren't 5 miles away!  My self-trickery worked though, and I managed to get back home with 18 miles complete at an average pace of 10:20 min/mile (including my 1 minute walks for every 5 minutes of jogging).  Not terrible.

Some fun facts from the run:

  1. My iPod nano and Nike+iPod transmitter/accelerometer can indeed last for >3 hours.
  2. I can drink 13 cups of water in 3 hours of running – that's 104 oz, or 6.5 lbs!!!!
  3. After drinking 6.5 lbs of water while running, my weight was 4 lbs less after the run.  Total sweat (or other fluids loss) =~ 10 lbs!!! what?!
  4. Lost ID's, credit card, or other items are likely to be hiding in the not often used zipper pocket of my camel back.  (My driver license that went missing one year ago was happily situated there).
  5. I should bring something to eat (silly me).
  6. Red powerade, even when half diluted with water, takes about three flushes with water to get rid of the red color (similar to the amount teeth-brushing required to rid one's tongue of the unnatural red hue).

Well, as slow as I plodded along, I feel pretty good about finishing that run by myself!  I am pretty confident now that I can finish the full 26, even if it does take me 6 hours! 

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