Last Long Run Before Race Day

by Joanne on March 28, 2015

That last long run before your marathon.  If it goes well there is happiness and confidence going into the race.  If it doesn’t go well negative thoughts begin to bombard our thinking and set the stage for an epic fail of a race.

Since a good run takes care of itself, lets look at a bad run and break it down.  This will be easy since today, I had one of those epic failure long runs.  Or did I?  Here’s the story and here is my running team:

Team S and Z

It’s important to note that going into this run, my legs had miles on them already.  I ran a race last Sunday (half marathon), ran easy Monday, intervals Tuesday, rest day Wednesday, tempo run Thursday and an easy run for 6 Friday.  Taking my mile totals from Thursday and Friday, I already had 15 1/2 miles done. My intention was to put another 22 on top of that.

Pre Run:  Got up early enough to eat some steel cut oats with raisins and a banana.  Checked the weather, somehow hoping for a miracle, no such luck.  It was about 23 degrees and felt like 9 degrees. Got all the gear on and prepared for the first loop.  *I always break my long run into loops or sections. If I take one at a time, it feels like a victory as I think “First loop complete!”.

First Loop:  Shane was ready to jog with me this morning. *Notice I say “jog”. Nothing and nobody is going to make Shane speed up the pace. We headed down Culver Ave. There was ice by the side of the road but since it was early and there was no traffic, it was avoidable.  There were a lot of stops for sniffing, peeing, pooping, and general excuses to avoid running.  That was all Shane obviously.

My legs weren’t feeling too terrific but had a little more pep than yesterday.  It didn’t matter how I felt, my mind was set on getting this long run done today. I’d push through no matter what.  I dropped Shane off at home after about 5 1/2 miles. Took a 5 hour Energy. Grabbed my water and gel and set off again on my own.

Second Loop:  I had checked out the path into the golf course on Friday and saw it was clear. Since that’s one of my favorite routes, I was thrilled to be able to get on that trail again after a long winter.

This is the cleared path down Valley View Road toward the far entrance to the course.  It was still early, the sun barely up.

VV road

As I turned into the course, it looked clear all the way up until the turn towards the hill. What to do? I didn’t like the thought of turning around and going back the way I came so I took my time and navigated carefully over the snow and ice.

Up the hill, showing the end of the pavement and the beginning of snow and ice.

Snow Golf

It was hard packed but still challenging due to the uneven surface and frozen foot prints of earlier walkers.

At this point my stomach flip-flopped.  It did this about 3 times, causing me to find available pit stops along the way. One such stop was the Rec Center where a room full of runners were waiting to begin their morning constitution.  I didn’t know them, although might suspect it is a Boilermaker training group.

From the Rec Center, I headed up Oneida to Higby.  Higby has a nice down hill that my legs were crying for to find relief and so I took Higby to Genesee St.  Genesee Street with it’s uneven side walks and high traffic even on a Saturday is not a favorite route for me but it was flat and hazard free.

At about 13 miles I passed St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.  Thought about checking in. Didn’t feel that great.

St E

The snow was falling and beginning to cover the roads. No sunshine to energize my run so I took a gel. Would have preferred the sun but we make do, right?!

There were nasty ice patches along the roads, some were considerably wide and long.  When I got back to the Rec Center area, those runners were returning and gathering in the parking lot. Lucky them! I still had 8 miles to run.

This is where the running surface forced walking.  It was dangerous and I wasn’t risking injury for speed.

This is just one example of the many ice patches up the Parkway, made more dangerous as the snow covers a lot of the ice.

ice patch pkwy

Third and Final Loop:  As I got home with 16 1/2 miles on my legs, Zoey was eagerly waiting. UGH! I wasn’t looking forward to getting out there again but there were still miles to log and so Zoey and I left on our 5 1/2 mile run. She pulled and I let her. Nothing great was happening with this body today so I’d take advantage of Zoey’s energy to get me through the final miles.

With 2 miles left to run, I found a little bit of energy and pushed through.   Got home after 3 hours and 38 minutes, frosty, tired, and cold.  It took me about an hour and half to shake that nauseous feeling I get after a long run. *Not sure why that happens?!

The Finish:   Not the last long run before Boston that I hoped for.  My time was just under 10 minute miles but if I include all the stops, it’s well over.  Not the energy I was looking for to instill confidence.  But wait!  Let’s review, again:

1. I had 15 1/2 miles on my legs before heading into this long run. That certainly won’t happen before running from Hopkinton to Boston on April 20th!

2. The temperature was less than ideal for running.  When it’s cold it can add time to ones run just as heat can.  Not to mention the 2 to 3 lbs of clothing for frost bite protection!… ok, I exaggerate but it’s still a lot more clothing than summer running!

3. The route I chose was snow covered or dangerously slick.  It didn’t promote a fast run. In fact and to be smart, the ice dictated caution and walking in several spots.

Did I get a confidence boost from this run?  Yes. I put in the miles and pushed through when tired and feeling defeated.  What is the key here?  Focus on the positive NOT the negative. A runner can jeopardize a race by focusing on negative aspects in training when in reality, there are so many positive things over the course of those training weeks, it’s more advantageous to forget the defeats and look at all the accomplishments.

Describe your WORST and  BEST last long training run? 

Can you avoid negative thoughts? How?

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