Yesterday’s long run was a good reminder that long runs are meant for endurance, not speed work. Still in the midst of drying our basement, I was able to get my long run in after church. I wanted to keep a nice steady pace and finish feeling strong, and end with an average pace around 8:20/mile.
Thanks to some pretty evenly distributed miles right around 8:15 pace, I was able to finish the run of 12.04 miles in 1:38:14 for an average pace of 8:10/mile. I ended the run feeling strong in the last two miles.
One particular note from the run: The mind can play some strange tricks on you, and it seems I become more susceptible as the miles increase during a run. I was able to keep all of my mile splits below 8:20 until I hit one mile that came in at 8:22. According to my mind, I was starting to lose grasp of my prior pace and would have to slow down if I wanted to finish the 12 mile run. In hindsight, the mile was slower due to a larger portion being uphill. Not listening to my mind’s messages (and also taking advantage of more downhill portions) I was able to more than make up the deficit in the next mile.
This episode reminded me of something my grandmother always said when playing Pinochle. “Going set is part of the game also,” she would say after someone missed their bid. Even through a card game, she taught me life (and running) has its ups and downs. You usually don’t throw in the towel after one bad hand, you move on and make up for it in the subsequent hands. So after this thought, I treated each subsequent mile as a unique hand in a card game: make the most with what you have — be alert and wise, take chances when needed, and don’t dwell on the previous hands. I never knew those countless hours spent playing cards would have other implications, but playing cards and running have many similar analytical requirements, especially in tactical races.
The week ended with 38.82 miles in 5:07. This was an intentional shorter mileage week to help the body recover a little from the recent higher mileage. I am now in the rotation of 20 miles for a long run one week, then 12 miles for a long run the following week. I will follow this pattern until I have completed all three 20 mile training runs. Only 40 days until the marathon!