I’ve been fearing long runs ever since I began training for the half marathon this spring. I dread how exhausted I feel at the end. I don’t enjoy working that hard for that long. All the miles after 6 just became “not fun”. And I finally figured out my problem.
I was running too fast. (Yes, we all do this, but my body has been sending me lots of signals lately to tell me to knock it off. Guess I finally decided to listen.)
The purpose of the long run is NOT to see how fast you can run those miles, but rather to spend time on your feet. They are meant to increase your VO2 max and to teach your body to burn fat for energy (and I certainly have plenty of stores for that.)
So, I plugged my most recent 5k (where I truly left it all out there) into the McMillan Calculator and got a new pace range: 10:37-11:37. Oy, that sounded slow, but I had to admit to myself that I’m not in the place I was when I ran a sub-2 half. I’m not where I was when I ran my last marathon. I am where I am and that’s where I have to start.
Yesterday, I headed out with no real exact plan of miles. Instead, I had two things in mind: running easy and hitting up the hill I have coming up in the Four Courts Four. I took it slow and easy. The only hard part in the early miles of my run was getting back up that hill (and that was a doozy!) As I approached each potential stopping point, I added more mileage to my goal. If left would take me home, I turned right. If going straight meant I hit another hill, I embraced it. Slowly but surely I added mile after mile.
In the end, I hit a new mileage PR in my Vibrams: 11 miles done. 10:41 pace (last mile was 9:53) with a little left in the tank at the end.
Eleven perfect miles on a beautiful sunny day. Long run done the way it was meant to be was just the confidence builder I needed.