Week 17 of training called for a long slow distance run of at least 20 miles. I was pretty anxious about this one since it has been nearly 4 years since I have run at least that distance (and that was during a marathon). The last successful 20-mile training run for me was on September 14, 2013. In addition to that, I have had to cut my last two long runs a little short for various reasons.
Because of a family birthday celebration, I didn’t get to bed early enough. Consequently, I only got about 3.5 hours of sleep before needing to get up and get ready to run.
My original plan was to run three loops, all beginning and ending at my house. The first two loops were to be about 8 miles each, leaving a final loop of 4 miles. My intent was to have a smaller amount of miles to run on the third loop when I knew I would be getting more tired. The reason I like to begin and end at my house is to trade out water bottles, use the restroom if necessary, and change wet shorts for dry shorts on the really hot mornings. I also take only enough GUs for the loop I have to run.
During the first loop, I began to think this was going to be a really tough day. As I passed the 6-mile mark, however, I began to feel more alert and alive. I was comfortable with where I was. I stopped at the house at 8 miles, used the restroom, changed my shirt, and traded out for my next water bottle.
About 3 miles into the second loop, I began to feel pretty solid. I had the idea that if I extended this loop by a mile or two, my third loop could end up begin really short. That was an attractive idea. My only issue was that I would need to refill my water bottle. I decided to go ahead and extend my outbound by a couple of miles, thinking that I could refill my bottle at the Whataburger at Main and I-35. This idea seemed pretty good to me. So, I went for it.
I had been working hard on this run doing a few key things:
- Forcing a slow, steady pace (2-3 minutes slower than my short runs) reserving energy
- Working on posture, form, and breathing
- Using positive affirmations to keep my mind right.
Until this run, I had never really tried to concentrate on positive affirmations. But I was determined to finish the training run all the way, no matter what. So, I tried it. I talked to myself, out loud over and over. “I’m doing great. My legs feel good. I am fully capable and prepared for this run. My legs are strong, and they will carry me all the way today. This walk break is perfectly timed, and it is just long enough to refresh me for the next running segment. My pace is perfect. I’m doing an excellent job of maintaining a steady pace. I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing.”
I think this made a tremendous difference in transferring the anxiety I had about this run into something positive. I’m going to seriously utilize this technique from now on.
I was very thankful that my running buddy Steve, who is recovering from an ankle injury, decided to find me at around mile 16 to simply encourage me and see if I needed anything. He ended up bringing me an extra GU and some more hydration. I appreciated this very much. He is a true friend. I’m looking forward to running together again soon.
I felt very accomplished at the end of this one. I am close enough to marathon distance now to see it again. I have two more long slow distance runs before the big day, along with some track workouts in between.
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