Going into this round of marathon training, I knew there were a few things I needed to change if I wanted to see what I’m really capable of :
- probably train for more than a handful of weeks
- probably don’t dread and hate the weekly long runs (LR) with the fiery hatred of a million burning suns
Because the fact is, a big part of running a marathon is running for a long period of time. Shocking. Despite how much I can love the track, hills, and weekday recovery runs, if I continue hating on the LR I’m pretty much doomed to 10 weeks of misery.
So, I made a vow. I’m going to learn to enjoy those hours of LR solitude. And the early alarms, runger calorie binges , achey joints, PB Banana toasts, and non-existent social life that comes along with it.
Book & beer at home, and yes, we’re playing bingo. On a Saturday. Sober. No worries.
Photo cred : Margot
So, from all this sensible thinking about preventing suicidal tendencies during marathon training, a new venture was born :
Operation love Don’t Hate the Long Run.
This weekend was attempt #1. While I can confidently say I’ve made steps in the right direction, I’m definitely not ready to throw the L-word around just yet.
I set out for 17 miles at a 8:45-9 pace. Being so “goal-oriented” (sub other less-PC words as you please) I wanted to have a target to aim for, but didn’t want to obsess over my speed the whole time. There’s a delicate balance between “ohhhh, who the F cares, I’m just runnnnnnning! Foreverrrr!” and “speed up! slow down! 2 sec off pace! charge the hill! put on the brakes! blahrahrhr”
Finding that balance is going to be the trick, I think.
So I ran. I paid attention to what my legs felt like and what my body was telling me. Every check in with Garmin was within range, and the pace felt manageable and easy. Smooth sailing, right?
Buuuuuuuut that gets boring after a while. Don’t you guys get bored? It’s super monotonous and never-ending. Plus, there are easily a MILLION other things I’d rather do for 2.5 hours than run. Left foot right foot repeat, without any intermittent gratification (ie goal splits, etc) is about as smash-your-head-against-the-wall excruciating to me as it gets.
(Here is where my love for sprints, intervals, and hills becomes clear, and everyone questions why the F I’m running a marathon)
Picking a route with constant changes in scenery and little rollers helped, but I can’t tell you without crossing my fingers behind my back that my Debbie Downer didn’t come out to play for a while. There’s some f-bomb litter I need to go back and pick up between miles 8-12, for sure.
At some point I decided I wanted to run the final three miles at or below “goal pace” (bunny ears – MGP is still an inherently imaginary number). This actually helped break up the run A TON, for very different reasons. Sunshiney, love running Sarah looked forward to the challenge, while debbie downer stabby Sarah desperately willed the newly shortened landmark and upcoming “hard work” to stay far far away.
But mile 14 came, I kicked the shit out of the last 3, and forgot about those sucky miles from earlier. Long Run – DONE.
Oh, p.s. My legs liked MGP. A LOT. Best 3 miles of the run. Just ps.
So if LR#1 wasn’t a complete Love success, what’d I learn from it? That’s the trick, right? Learning from your awesome failures.
I’m going to start putting something really terrible and dreadful at the end of every LR. That’s my brilliant Love the LR plan. That way I spend the whole run hoping I never get to the finish. Like a really obnoxious song or a strawberry banana Gu or something. Will report back on the effectiveness ASAP.
Oh and I also learned (/re-remembered) that I shouldn’t do anything super sweaty in my fav pink skirt. Good thing I felt really cool at the time passing all those people.