My long runs are the one and only key workout that I do. I don’t do hill repeats, I don’t do speed sessions on the track, and still think fartlek is something middle school boys do to annoy their parents. So everything comes down to executing well on these runs. OK, execution is a bit strong a word since I don’t have any other goals besides completing the miles. An 11 minute pace is just as good as a 10 minute pace as far as I’m concerned. Granted, one of those will give me a better chance of finishing Umstead inside 24 hours, but I believe listening to my body and running a sustainable pace whatever that happens to be is more important than hitting a number.
Today’s run was a little different than my last several long runs. I started out on the fast side of things (9:36 pace through 10 miles), then slowed down to an overall pace of 9:57 after 15 miles and was able to maintain that over the last 12 miles. The terrain I was running can explain the dramatic slowdown between miles 10 and 15 (grass trails vs. roads). They really did a number on my legs, even more so than the last couple times I did that section. I think I set myself up for this by going out a little too fast in the first 8 miles, but I was feeling good and running what I thought was a sustainable pace even though it was on the faster side of things.
I’ve been setting up a little aid station in my driveway for these long runs. This has consisted of one water bottle, however the temperatures were going to be near 50 by the time I got done (mildest winter ever here in PA and I’m not complaining) so I stashed 2 bottles today. They are insulated bottles and by filling them with hot water, I’ve been lucky not to have frozen chunks of ice when I swap them out. Today’s fueling strategy was also a little different in that I took 3 gels with me. For mileage less than 26, I never take any calories, however over this I take along some gels to provide a little nourishment at miles 10, 15, 21. I read somewhere back in the day that running without ingesting calories will help you burn fat for fuel. I’m not a dietitian or medical professional so please don’t believe this just because you read it here on the internet. I will say that I’ve only ever had stomach problems in one race before so maybe this helps with that. Or maybe I’ve been completely lucky. Probably a safer bet to go with the latter. Where was I?
So the last 13 miles was all on roads and I was cranking out a relatively decent pace. My legs were very tired, but they kept turning over nicely. I also had good levels of motivation and only walked two very short sections of steep hills. My last 2 miles were done at a 9:30 and 9:10 pace. These are part of my normal mid-week 5 mile run and are net downhill miles. Today I was about a minute slower than my mid-week pace on these, which I’m very happy with.
So my training from now till Umstead is down to 3 long runs. The Naked Bavarian 40 is in 2 weeks and then I’ll chase that the following weekend with 31 and 21 miles. And then I’ll be into my taper. Everything is building nicely. All I need to do is maintain my health over the next 3 long runs and I’ll be all set.
Hope your training is going as well as mine. (knock, knock)