A couple of weeks ago I was minding my own business, training for the Canyonlands Half Marathon on March 21. I was putting in about 30 miles per week and doing long runs in the 10 mile range. I had no marathon on my agenda, and wasn’t especially sure I wanted one.
Then, this happened. I fell over myself saying “yes” because who wouldn’t want to run a marathon in Jerusalem? If I have to crawl over the Wailing Wall I’ll do it, while wailing.
I want to ramp up my mileage but I’m not stupid. You can’t and shouldn’t train for a marathon in four weeks. So, what to do? I decided that I’d do three longer runs (14 miles, 16 miles, 18 miles), keep weekly mileage around 35 to 40 miles and call it good. This will give me a 10 day taper. I’ll be sufficiently undertrained and will suffer on race day. But, I will be in Jerusalem for crap’s sake.
Yesterday I went out for 14 miles. I kept the pace pretty chill. I stopped at mile 9 at my friend’s house for water. No one was home so I stole a bunch of Girl Scout cookies and short sheeted the bed. I remembered to flush because no one likes to come home to a floater.
This is what I would look like if I was bald (and didn’t wear make up every day and never tweezed my eyebrows).
The run felt good until mile 12 when it didn’t feel good anymore. My legs hurt. I haven’t run that far since my Ironman in August (if you could even call that running). My lower body was pissed. At mile 12 I put music in to take my mind off of things. My newest favorite song = Mess is Mine by Vance Joy.
While I was running I had shit ton of time to think about long runs and how we can make them the most comfortable and successful as possible. Here’s some thoughts:
1. Eat enough before. My rule of thumb is this equation. .5 x my body weight x #of hours before I run = grams of carbs I need. This translates to .5 x 112 x 1 hour = 56 carbs (or 28 grams if I’m running in a half hour). That is Algebra VII. I ate two pieces of toast slathered with avocado and a fried egg.
2. Use music as a reward. I love running with music but I don't want to be dependent on it. For that reason, I do some runs without tunes. For really long runs and races, I’ll listen to music for the second half if I’ve been a good girl. I won’t listen to music in Jerusalem because I don’t want to block out one minute of the experience. Plus, I wonder what “GO BETH” or “Looking strong!” sounds like in Hebrew.
3. Drink to thirst. While I try to take in 4 ounces ever 15-20 minutes, my thirst obviously depends on weather and how much I sweat. I try to listen to my body on this one.
4. Take in 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour. The amount you consume depends on your size. I do about 30 grams. I ate an Apple Pie Clif Shot at mile 7 (highly recommend), Girl Scout cookies at mile 9 and a few cherry Shot Bloks at mile 12.
5. Go by feel not pace. I used to do all of my long runs at a set pace (a minute or so slower than marathon pace). The problem with that is that there are so many varying conditions like weather, being hungover, etc. that it doesn’t work to stick to a certain pace.
Instead, I try to ignore my watch and go based on feel. I keep myself at pace where I could easily carry on a conversation (when running alone I just converse with myself the whole time) and a pace where I can’t hear my breathing (no, I’m not dead, but I just can’t hear myself doing any heavy breathing).
6. Have a mantra. I know you’ve heard this a million times, but it really helps. My favorites are “can’t stop, won’t stop” and “enjoy the mile I’m in,” and “I am strong, I am tough.”
7. Eat protein/carbs within approximately 24.2 minutes after having finished your run. This will rebuild your destroyed muscles, restore glycogen and help you recover faster. The idea ratio is 4:1 carb to protein. I came home around lunch time so I feasted on leftover pulled pork, mac ‘n cheese and sautéed spinach and mushrooms. Looks like hell on a plate, but it rocked my world.
Looking forward to trying this on my next long run (well, I’m not really looking forward to it, but I will be a guinea pig and try it so I can tell you how it is):
Any other tips for the long run?
What is your mantra?
How far was your last long run?
PS: Speaking of long runs, my dear friend Erika is training for her first marathon. She is doing this to raise money for an organization called Children’s Treehouse that supports children whose parents have cancer. PLEASE consider a donation to her cause and check out her blog here: A Marathon for Children’s Treehouse.