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When a long run was just a long run

Once upon a time, a long run meant going out for a long run. That was it. 

Every Saturday, we’d head out for whatever the schedule called for and did the whole long slow day. 

While the long slow day is key- especially if you are running your first marathon or coming back from an injury, it’s not always the answer. If you want to start getting faster, you get to the point, where the intensity of some of those long slow days has to increase.

In training for my upcoming marathon, (VA Beach, Shamrock- March 17th) my long runs have had a  lot of marathon pace miles.

In the past, I do think that happened sometimes… without being planned. I used no GPS watch, (no watch at all most of the time, as I would find myself time watching and found it distracting) I ran based on time a lot and mapped my run at the end. It was really hard to know my real pace, as I’d just guess based on what the clock said when I walked out the door and what it said when I walked back in. (who knows how much time was lost at stop lights, or bathroom breaks)

Running like that did work for me at that time. I was able to complete my first marathon in the time I desired and have improved my times since, BUT I know if I want to achieve some faster goal times, I need to have some more focus on speeds in training… and not just speed on tempo/repeat days.

What I’m learning this training session– if you want to hit your goal marathon pace, and run to the best of your abilities, you should get your body used to running that pace on a fairly consistent basis.

It adds some pressure to the formerly thought of easy long day. There are now goals inside the long run. Like the marathon, I’m not training to just complete the marathon, I’m training to complete it at a faster pace. If I want to do that, I ought to get my body used to doing it.

I understand and believe in the importance of recovery miles and I don’t think every long run should be an intense long run. (next week I have a rest week and am running only 9 recovery miles for my long run.)

About Race Day:

Gone are the days when you take it easy the whole first half so you can remain strong the second half, or when you go out too hard the first half and completely bonk the second.

Consistent running is the magic formula. It’s not some new shiny concept, but for me at least, it has taken some years of running to learn how to train that way.

You can PR or run a great time if you take it easy the first half and are able to negative split and kick in the second half harder, BUT- if you really want to race and run the fastest time you can, you have to run hard the whole race. Miles 1-3 will naturally be a time for warming up, but once you are nice and warm, you have to work. And once you are half way there, you work a little harder, and the closer you get to the finish from there you have to put it all out there. It’s not about just surviving the last six miles anymore, it’s about finishing the last six miles with power.

I have been putting this training into practice and I am both nervous and excited to put the practice into action on race day.

There are confident runs and doubt-filled runs. Some days I’ll finish an awesome tempo run and feel like I have it in the bag and can destroy the time I want to run and then there are days like yesterday. On my 10 mile recovery run, I felt great really, but it was kind of windy as I headed home, I ran around an 8 minute mile most of the time and although I felt totally fine, I was having a hard time wrapping my head around being able to hold a pace 40 seconds per mile faster than I was running for 16 more miles.

I’ve read it, heard it and said it myself a million times, that you have to trust the recovery miles, but sometimes those are the runs when I struggle the most to feel confident in what I can actually do on race day. I’ve got five more weeks until race day and I’ve got two more “intense” long runs left. A 20 mile run with 3 X 5 Miles at marathon pace and a 14 miler with the last 10 at progression. I’m ready to put the work in and finish out the plan strong. We’ll see where it takes me on race day.

What kind of long runs do you do?
Have your long runs progressed into something more than the long slow day?
What is your FAVORITE long run workout?
 (Would love suggestions for future training plans… it’s fun to switch it up, makes it go faster)
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