Long-distance running can be as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical one. Usually when I want to cut a long run short, it’s mental. Today it was definitely physical.
I hate to cut any of my runs short. When I plan to run a certain distance, that’s it, if it’s part of my training plan, then I do it. However, if I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that sometimes you have to know when to call it quits, like today.
Since I cut my long run short by 3 miles last week, I was determined to get in 18 miles today. Unfortunately, I was sick for most of the week and I only ran 12 miles so 18 seemed like it might be a stretch but I thought I could handle it.
I’ve also started running with the heart rate monitor on my long runs. I shoot for 75% of my max heart rate and then gradually increase to around 80-85% for the last 3 to 5 miles.
The first few miles felt fine. I struggled to keep my heart rate down so that I wouldn’t burn myself out but other than that, everything was good. I kept my pace around 11:00 minutes. At mile 5 I slowed down a bit and drank some water and then continued on.
All was okay until around mile 7 and I started to struggle. My legs were like dead weight. They just didn’t want to move. I kept going to mile 9.5 and I stopped at the marina for some water. I drank a ton of water and then splashed the cold water all over my face and I felt like I could continue on.
At mile 12 I came to a hill and I walked it. At the top of the hill is a water fountain so I stopped again and drank a ton of water. I felt like I was going to shut down but I pushed through and ran to the end of the park. It took quite a bit of effort but I managed to make it to mile 13. Finish time 2:23:18.
I know that part of the struggle was mental. I started thinking about my training and how much time I have left and how important my long runs are, and I get frustrated. I start to wonder if I’ve recovered enough or if I’m still a tad bit under the weather. I wonder if I’m pushing myself too hard…or hard enough.
That’s when I start to worry that I won’t be ready to run 26.2 and even though my thoughts are probably irrational, they are still there.
I finished my run at 13 miles and then I started to immediately focus on what went wrong:
- I have been sick with a cold for almost a week so my body is not 100%.
- I haven’t been doing any strength training or weight workouts and I’m paying for it.
- It’s still quite hot out. Even though it was 73 and breezy this morning, it was in the 80’s by 9am.
After I got home I took the dogs for a walk and did a little yard work. My legs have been tired, but not too bad. I plan on getting in a few miles tomorrow and I’ll pick it back up again next week.
It still sucks that I didn’t get the long run in that I had planned but I think it may have hurt me more if I would have pushed it.
Did you get your long run in today? Have you ever cut a long run short?