8 Miles or Mistakes on a Long Run

I can’t say today’s run was awful because I was actually pretty happy with my overall time (despite missing my goal by 20 seconds).  But today’s run was not good.  I broke a lot of the “rules” that I’ve read and lived by up until now, and I paid for it.  I was in a lot of pain by the end of the run, and this is the first time I’ve actually experienced tears. 

I delayed my run until after noon because I was waiting for the weather to hit 50 degrees, so I could run without a jacket.  Or maybe that’s just how I gave myself permission to procrastinate.  Mentally, I just wasn’t feeling it by the time I had to change and leave.  I’m sure my attitude going into the run didn’t help, but I was excited to start running when I got to the park.  My basic mistakes:

1.  Missing out on training runs.  I know that life gets in the way, and it’s important to just get back on track, but I really felt like missing two training runs this week left me unprepared for the long run.  Knowing that I had missed the training runs, I should have adjusted my speed goal for today, but I didn’t.

2.  Not fueling properly pre-run.  I should have drunk more water this morning, but I only drank about half a glass.  I also skipped my normal pre-long run breakfast of wheat thins, almond butter and banana.  Instead I ate cereal early this morning (which doesn’t fill me up) and had left-over pizza for lunch.  I felt nauseous on my run and experienced some bad cramps.

3.  Not fueling properly during the run.  I didn’t make it to the store this week to stock up on Gu or any other running fuel, so I went without anything.  I thought, it’s only 8 miles, do I really need it?  Well the answer might be yes.  My other long runs (all of which I took Gu) have been much better.  Maybe it really does give me the extra energy I need.

4.  Running too fast too early.  I didn’t follow through on negative splits.  Instead, I started out too fast and each mile became slower and slower.  I mentally hit a wall early on and had to fight through it for 3 miles.  I always feel much better when I’ve saved my energy for the end and finish strong, but today I felt like I was fighting just to finish.

5.  Not wearing sunblock.  Okay, this probably didn’t have any effect on how I felt on the run, but the husband commented on the number of freckles I came home with.  I should know better by now!

My run started out great.  So great, in fact, that I was not watching my time closely and finished the first mile in 9:21.  The pace felt good, but I immediately started to panic, worried that I would pay for it later.  My second and third miles were only a little slower, but I felt okay, and I kept telling myself it was time I could have back later in the run.  Going into the run, my average pace goal was 10:10 per mile.  After that first mile, I changed my goal to finish the run at an average pace of 10:00 minutes per mile.  I shouldn’t have done that.

By mile 4 I was ready to quit.  The thought actually crossed my mind – I had missed my training runs this week, maybe it would be understandable if I couldn’t finish 8 miles.  Or maybe I could give up the time goal completely and just walk the remaining miles.  But I was almost halfway there and well on track to finish in 1:20, so I didn’t really want to give up.

It just hit me on mile 5.  I only stopped for one walk break, but I could tell I was going to need more.  This is when the nausea set in.  I tried just slowing my running pace, assuring myself I could still meet my goal if I just kept moving.  Mile 6 was even worse, but I still only stopped for one walk break.  However, I made myself run faster the rest of the mile so I could take a longer walk break.  It seemed to help, and I finished the mile in 10:21.

Mile 7 is where I fell apart.  I probably stopped to walk 6-7 times but kept trying to run faster when I ran, to make up for the walking.  I had bad cramps on my left side.  My left knee was in a lot of pain.  I finished my water bottle.  I felt tears coming on – don’t worry, I didn’t start bawling at the park, but the tears were there, and that’s something I’ve never experienced on a run.

Mile 8 was more of the same.  I kept telling myself that it was the last mile, and I was strong and could make it through, but I still took a lot of walk breaks.  I tried to sprint the last quarter of the mile, but had to stop to walk before I even got through that.  However, I did finish about 2.5 minutes faster than I ran my last 8 miles on January 15.  My average pace on that run was 10:22.  I know I should feel good about that, but I feel like I let myself down.  I shouldn’t have set my goal so high, and I shouldn’t have pushed myself to the point of feeling so miserable on what should have been an “easy” long run.

My splits:

  • Mile 1:  9:21
  • Mile 2:  9:33
  • Mile 3:  9:44
  • Mile 4:  9:53
  • Mile 5:  10:22
  • Mile 6:  10:21
  • Mile 7:  10:37
  • Mile 8:  10:28
  • Total:  1:20:20 (10:03 average pace)

It’s still amazing to me that running only slightly faster in the beginning could make me feel so tired by the end.  Or maybe it was one of the other reasons I listed above.  Either way, I hope that I’ve learned my lesson and do a better job of fueling and preparing myself in the future.

What are basic “rules” you follow for long runs?

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11 responses to “8 Miles or Mistakes on a Long Run

  1. This was actually good to me to read because I don’t yet have any rules for long runs. I haven’t even begun to play around with when to eat something mid run etc.

    • I’ve just recently begun to try eating something mid-run. Before this run, I wasn’t sure that it made any difference. I’ve been told it’s good to take some fuel about 45 minutes into a long run, and each 45 minutes after that.

  2. UGH!!! I am so sorry you felt so terrible!! 😦 When i have runs like that I try and remember all the good runs and tell myself I will do better next time! It sounds like you know exeactly what went wrong so don’t beat yourself up too much!! Your next run will rock, just wait and see! At least that is usually what happens to me 😉

  3. 😦 Big sad face that your run was a disappointment! But you did an AMAZING job finishing 8 miles in spite of all of those things working against you! Not quitting when you felt so miserable is in itself a victory that you should be proud of.

  4. You kept an awesome pace! Sorry your run sucked 😦 I’ve definitely made all of those mistakes- often at the same time, too! I notice a huge difference in the way I feel if I’m dehydrated or hungry on a run. And I burn like a lobster, so sunscreen is a must, even if I often forget it!

  5. You made it! That’s something to be proud of.

    And as for the mistakes: been there, done that. I’ve made them all, some recently. But that’s the good thing about a “bad” run: we learn about it.
    I’m glad I had a recovery week this week since I missed a run too.

    The thing I know need to learn most is fuel properly before a long run and “play” with what works best for me during a long run.

  6. You did so great finishing your run, even though you didn’t want to. Sometimes during training, the long runs are more mental training rather than physical. I’d say this one qualifies, and the fact that you were able to get through it tells me you definitely built up your mental endurance that day. 🙂

  7. Great job on still getting out there! I haven’t run since Monday because of the nasty weather where I live so I ended up speed walking 3.5 miles instead of running it. I also made pretty similar mistakes as you! You’ll do better next time, especially because you know where/why you went wrong!

  8. Way to tough it out, and like others have said, at least you learned something from it! I’m sure you’ll kill it next time!

  9. Darlene Cardillo

    Everyone has runs like that. A lot of my long runs were like that before my first half and I felt great during the run that counted. BTW: we both have a half on April 23.

    • It’s good to know that feeling bad on the training runs doesn’t mean I’ve completely derailed my half marathon training – I can’t imagine feeling that way and still having more than 5 miles left to run! It’s fun that we have half marathons on the same day, I’ll be following along with your training 🙂

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