A Very Long Run – Training Update

This past Saturday was my last long run before the Spinx Marathon on Halloween.  I tend to prefer a shorter taper than the standard 3 weeks, so I scheduled my last long run of 4 hours for 2 weeks out from race day. It actually worked out pretty well because three weeks out from the race would mean I had to run for 4 hours within 36 hours of returning from Dubai and well, let’s just say that would have been extremely ugly.

I did attempt a long run on my first weekend back, aiming for 2 hours. I taught a barre class that morning and headed out as soon as I got home. I really didn’t feel like going, but marathon training is not always about what we want to do. Although my legs felt fine, I got a side stitch about 45 minutes in that would not go away no matter which tricks I tried. I ended up cutting the run short at an hour and a half and felt pretty discouraged. Maybe it was a dehydration thing or an exhaustion thing, but still, it didn’t make me feel great about the runs I had missed while overseas. I made a vow to hit all my runs for the week no matter how crappy I felt and keep pushing forward.

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Some weeks are just like that

During the work week, I got both of my hour-long runs in despite the best efforts of my brain to talk me out of it. My legs had been feeling really weird all week – kind of stocked up and puffy with bad circulation. I wore my compression socks at night and got AJ to roll out my legs but they still felt tight. I refused to let that stop me, though, because it won’t matter if my legs are tight on race day or not – I’m still running, right? On both outings, they did loosen up and I ended up having some great runs. I can definitely feel myself getting faster and feeling better with each run.

The moment of truth came this Saturday. I had my longest run of the training cycle scheduled – 4 hours. I’ve gotten spoiled over the past few months because my mom has been here to bike with me on several long runs, and Amanda was here a few weeks ago to run with me. I haven’t had to do any super long efforts by myself in a while, so I was pretty nervous about heading out on my own, especially after last week’s long run attempt. Fortunately, I saw on the Spinx Marathon’s website that there was a preview run off the half marathon course on Saturday, and it was open to everyone. They said they would have water and Gatorade and course support, so I figured it would be a great opportunity to meet some new people and get some miles in. I was a little nervous that there would be no one running at my pace, but I figured either way, a supported run is still better than an unsupported run, and I would cross that bridge when I came to it. I also thought that the route would be flatter than where I normally run since a lot of the marathon is on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, which is a pretty flat multi-use path in Greenville. Spoiler alert: I was wrong about pretty much everything.

Knowing I would need to get in some additional mileage, I parked my car away from the group run start and ran to the start for a warm up. It was cold – low 40s! – but I still wore my standard tank top and Qore Performance shorts since I knew it would warm up. As for my fears that there would be no one running at my pace, I had nothing to worry about! I quickly settled in with another woman and, since we had no idea where we were going, we followed two other women who were running about the same pace. We all ended up running together and chatting the whole way, which was really nice. Thank goodness for them, because the course was not marked and I would have gotten lost in about 30 seconds. I had brought a handheld with water and Gatorade knowing I would be running more afterwards, and it was a good thing because the run ended up not being supported. Still, it was absolutely gorgeous weather and great company, and the miles flew by. Before I knew it, we were done and I had an hour and 20 minutes to go on my own!

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Best selfie? No. Best run? Yes!

I’m really proud of myself for this run because I really psyched myself up. I was determined not to talk negatively or get consumed by how tired or achy I was. How worn out I had felt at the end of my 3.5 hour run a few weeks before was definitely in the back of my mind, but I tried to push it out and just focus on feeling strong and holding steady. It worked! I ran the final hour and 20 minutes faster than the early miles. I used one of my favorite (really dumb) tricks, which is changing the song lyrics of the music I’m listening to in order to make the song about running. This time, I used the song “Cheerleader,” the lyrics of which are supposed to be:

When I need motivation
My one solution is my queen
‘Cause she stays strong
Yeah, yeah
She is always in my corner
Right there when I want her
All these other girls are tempting
But I’m empty when you’re gone
And they say
Do you need me?
Do you think I’m pretty?
Do I make you feel like cheating?
I’m like no, not really ’cause
Oh, I think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her

So, because I’m a big nerd, I changed it to:

When I need motivation
My one solution is my brain
‘Cause she stays strong
Yeah, yeah
She is always in my corner
Right there when I want her
All these benches are so tempting
But I’m empty without running
And they say
Are you tired?
Do you feel like sitting?
Do I make you feel like quitting?
I’m like no, not really ’cause
Oh, I think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her

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Running on the trail like ^

Like I said, I’m a nerd. But it works! I always start smiling and laughing at myself when I mess with song lyrics, and it’s a fun way to pass the time. I’m only human, of course. I did start to get tired towards the end, although I felt way better than I had on any of my previous runs. My glutes in particular were feeling a little worn out from all the hills, and I remembered reading SuzLyfe’s Chicago Marathon race report recently where she talked about how she had a glute activation mantra. So, literally, I talked to my ass and said things like “Go go gadget glutes!”(God, I loved Inspector Gadget) or (to the tune of SHOTS) “Glutes, glutes, glutes, glutes, glutes, glutes EVERYBODYYYYY” and other ridiculous stuff. Hey, four hours is a long time to run and things get weird.

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I definitely didn’t run 26.5 miles so nice try, calorie count.

I finished my run feeling awesome. Like, superhuman great, so proud of myself and excited because I know that I could have finished a marathon that day with the same attitude and a smile on my face. It was my best pace per mile yet, hovering right at 11 minute miles and feeling comfortable the entire time. I never felt like I was pushing too hard, and my heart rate stayed at a reasonable level.

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And then I crushed this gluten-free bagel sandwich (because I live somewhere now that actually has bagels I can eat) with my face and it was glorious

Does this mean greatness on race day? Maybe. Oddly enough, I’ve always felt like I have my best races when my last long run beforehand goes terribly – almost like I’m getting that bad run out of the way. And that thought certainly did cross my mind, but I pushed it away, because it doesn’t really matter. What matters is my attitude on race day and that I go out believing in myself and determined to enjoy the experience. I have no idea what my finish time will be, but I know I have given this training cycle my best and I know marathon #49 will reflect that one way or another. Spinx RunFest, here I come!

LEAVE A COMMENT: How is your training going? Who has fall races coming up?

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