Long run done right

by MCM Mama on February 29, 2012


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.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Miz February 29, 2012 at 6:27 am

love this.
I found a confidence builder in my yesterday too.


2 AmyC February 29, 2012 at 7:31 am

I love the MacMillan Calculator. I was stressing myself out about speed until I did just what you did and plugged in my recent “good” race time. After that, my runs became fun again, no matter what the distance! Great run =)


3 Lisa @ Yo Momma Runs February 29, 2012 at 8:15 am

Thanks for posting the calculator! I’ve been meaning to check that out and finally did.


4 jessica (pace of me) February 29, 2012 at 8:46 am

that is so awesome! great job! i really like the mcmillan calculator – it has helped me a lot for my runs, and especially long run pacing. between that and the rrca coaching class, my training has improved so much and it is really helping!


5 Molly February 29, 2012 at 8:49 am

That’s great! Love it when long runs build confidence!


6 Kim @ (Just) Trying February 29, 2012 at 9:24 am

What a great long run. I have the same problem you do, feeling like my pace is too slow. Thanks for the reminder about the purpose of the long run. I can’t imagine doing 11 in Vibrams, very impressive.


7 Heather Montgomery February 29, 2012 at 10:03 am

great post, so glad you had a great long run!


8 Ericka @ The Sweet Life February 29, 2012 at 10:39 am

I’ve had the same issue with running too fast on long runs. I never realized that you were supposed to slow down! I remember when I did a training run with my mom — who was more well read than I — we did our 14-mile run at a pace that seemed painfully slow. But at the end of it, I was not completely pooped and my body felt much better the rest of the day. I’m glad you were able to get your great 11 in!


9 katie February 29, 2012 at 10:53 am

I used to be a big offender in the long runs too fast campaign, but now I see how harmful it was. nice job!


10 Marlene February 29, 2012 at 11:04 am

Atta girl!


11 Hikermom February 29, 2012 at 11:34 am

Great job! It always makes such a difference to go at the right pace. I struggle with this myself. Very impresses you did 11 in Vibrams!


12 misszippy February 29, 2012 at 11:50 am

11 miles in the Vibrams is so fantastic! Good for you. And I’m glad you dialed the pace back and found a happy place with the long run.


13 Kierston February 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Great post and Awesome Job! I’m pretty new to running so I’m working on finding my long run pace! The Goal: Running a half-marathon by the end of 2012. Thanks 4 posting the calculator!


14 Viper February 29, 2012 at 2:38 pm

And sometimes you have slow down to speed up. Congrats on a good run. Cheers!


15 Elizabeth February 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Very nice. I am in awe of your Vibram-ness!


16 Travel Spot February 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm

It’s great when it all comes together! I remember looking at my training plan, which said to do your long runs 45 seconds per mile slower than your hopeful pace and I though it was crazy, but it really does work! I am glad you got out there and did it and enjoyed it! That’s what it’s all about!


17 Char February 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I need to print out that saying at the top of your post and put it on my fridge. It’s so appropriate for me at the moment.

Sounds like you got your long run done just right yesterday. Good on you !


18 Tamara February 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I love how exercise builds confidence! And the saying you chose to start the post with was bang on!


19 Jess February 29, 2012 at 6:55 pm

thanks for sharing the McMillan calculator…I am always wondering what pace I should be running at when I’m not racing and feel like I am always just trying to go as fast as I can…now I feel like I have a reference point for different runs!!


20 raulgonemobile February 29, 2012 at 8:20 pm

I like that calculator.. I wish it gave faster numbers, but they’re usually spot on.


21 Emily @FamilyNLifeLV February 29, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Not being a runner I don’t know if I can comment on that – other to say that your posts make me want to run! Love that quote. I’m so there RIGHT now!!


22 Michelle @ Running with Attitude February 29, 2012 at 10:46 pm

11 miles in Vibrams is fantastic! And I really like the McMillan calculator – it’s helped me so much!


23 Suzanne March 3, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Great run!


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