Just how long would a long run be if a long run was real long?

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.

mental noise

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:

  1. I have been sick with a cold for almost a week so my body is not 100%.
  2. I haven’t been doing any strength training or weight workouts and I’m paying for it.
  3. 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.

Tired legs baby

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?