Long Run Lessons the Hard Way

Libby at Speedwork night with the NTX Runners group.

This week’s recap: 13 miles of midweek runs that included speedwork and hillwork, and then a 16.6 mile long run.  Total Mileage: 29.6

Hills Are My Friends

I studied the San Francisco Marathon elevation chart in detail this week. After 2 weeks of 3 workouts of mid-week hill repeats on a 60 foot hill climb in a tenth of a mile, I have to say… Not as scared of those hills now.

And Friends Make Long Runs Better

This weekend, I put out to my network that I was doing a long run, broken into 3-5 miles at a time, hoping someone would join me. I was thankful when Shannon said she needed a long run and would come along. Another friend Catherine decided to go out for my mile 5-10 segment. From now on, long runs will have defined segments and I’ll be willing to take company for a handful of miles as people are available. Friends help runs go by faster, so this is a a great way to hopefully pass the time with someone to run with for some parts of each long run.

Such a Painful Long Run

Even with the one thing I did right, so much was not good for that run. Many mistakes were made on this longest run so far of my training.

1.      I went out too fast. I knew what pace I was intending to do, and I thought I was running “easy” and just ignored the number on the GPS watch. First 4 miles were entirely too fast. The first mile was 1 min, 25 seconds too fast. Oops
2.      I intended to take a short walk break every mile to replicate the occasional giant uphills I plan to walk during the marathon. I didn’t remember to take a walk break until sometime in mile 5. Oops again.
3.      Most significantly, I started this run at 7:30 am…in May… in Texas heat. At the start of the run it was in the low 70s and humid. By the end, it was over 80 degrees already.

I’m a major night owl. Unless it’s a race eve, I’m rarely in bed before midnight. 1 am, sometimes 2 am, is a more common bedtime. So the idea of 5 am or 5:30 am run times sounds absolutely atrocious. Add in to that the fact that I’ve been fighting occasional stomach/digestion problems when running the last year or two. It appears if I’m up suitably early before the start of the run, at least 1 ½ hours, then I’m more likely to avoid stomach problems during the run or race.

So, I thought I could handle the heat in lieu of running at 5am. But I haven’t tried to handle running THAT many miles in the heat.  By the end of the run, I was walking it in and just dragging. I had absolutely no energy left.

Every long run teaches us a lesson. I firmly believe that. In fact, I think every run teaches us some lesson if we’re willing to seek out that lesson. But the major lesson of this long run was that even night owls need to get up early when doing this kind of distance in Texas summer heat.

The silver lining is thinking about the temperature at the start of that 17 mile run and how that’s higher than it will ever get the entire time I’m running at my first full marathon at San Francisco Marathon. Now that’s worth smiling about!

Libby Jones has been running for 5 years, is a self-described “serial half-marathoner”, but has never attempted the marathon distance. She is also an active part of the Dallas-Fort Worth running community.  She is the Founder and Race Director of the New Year’s Day Half Marathon in Allen, Texas; the Executive Race Director for Heels and Hills, a non-profit geared towards getting women fit and active; the North Texas State Representative for the Road Runners Club of America; past Dallas Running Club President & 2008 RRCA Scott Hamilton National Outstanding Club President Award Winner; and an RRCA-certified running coach. She’s also a wife to Steve and a mother to Marissa (3 yrs) and Sophie (3 1/2 months).  Read her blog “The Active Joe” and follow her on Twitter @libbyruns

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