I’m feeling a little childish about my upcoming long runs this weekend. Since I’ve been running consistently for the last 5+ years, my training plans have been condensed down from 20 week schedules to just planned long runs. Based on the time between my last race (Naked Prussian) and MMT, I had 4 weekends available for long runs. And for some reason, I decided that I was due for a weekend of back-to-back long runs. Typically I do my longest/hardest weekend 3 weeks out from my races (i.e. weekend after this), however I have Friday off work this week so I moved up my 25&20 milers to this weekend. This lets me do the runs Friday/Saturday instead of Saturday/Sunday. The benefit is I don’t have to wake up at 4am for the second run to squeeze it in before church.
My issue isn’t really the weekend that I’m doing it or the mileage per se. It’s just that these long training runs have become a bit of a chore. I typically run them in the same places with similar or even identical routes so they’re. . . well, boring for lack of a better word. I could spice things up and run in new places, however that would require a bit of effort (research, driving, logistics, time, etc.). Bother. It’s so much easier to do the 3 mile drive to Cheslen or just hit the roads around my house.
The other thing that kinda nags at me is that I don’t really need to do all these long runs. Between my decent endurance base and steady stream of ultras (about 7 per year), I don’t have to do five 20-25 mile runs over 4 weekends to finish 100 miles. I could probably get away with two or three and still run a decent race.
So why do them? This is how I practice and refine my grit, which is a vital trait when it comes to ultras. I don’t push myself through tough workouts. I don’t do speed work. Or hills. Or tons of strength training. I don’t train hard. Heck, I walk the hills on all my training runs for crying out loud. But one of my key strengths is consistency and getting my runs in regardless of whether I want to or not. Very few people want to keep running after 60 miles. Mostly I want a chair and a couple beers by the time I get to that point. By forcing myself out on these long runs, I’m practicing running when it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns (and beer). And at the end of the day, I believe that will translate into race day performance and make me a better ultra runner.
Unless the extra mileage does me in and causes an injury. Sigh. If only this got easier the longer you do it.