Half-Marathon Training Series #2: The long run

17 Sep

On Saturday, two things were going on in my town:

One, it was the day for the annual Chilifest! I look forward to this day every year, because I love chili.

It’s tough to find a chili that is both spicy enough and has enough flavor. I went to one booth and they said that they had a ghost pepper chili that was very spicy. Since I’m a lover of spice, I told them to bring it on. They acted as if it would blow my socks off. It was basically cold tomato sauce with some ghost peppers thrown in. Yeah, there was some heat, but there was absolutely no other flavor at all. I almost thought it was a joke. That photo in the middle of Zach is as he is eating the only true spicy chili that we found, and that was only after the addition of the “hottest sauce in the universe” — it was incredibly spicy! It burned the back of my throat, and it also had a good flavor. I think that people are afraid to make things too spicy because not everyone is a fan.

After Chilifest, we went to a Marshall University Football game. Zach and I both graduated from Marshall, so we are big Herd fans!

It was a perfect day for football. Early fall heat in the afternoon with a nice chill once the sun set.

I took the first photo and Zach said, “Wait, my eyes weren’t open!” So that is what happened when I took another. haha.

Our team ended up losing  a really close game! We were pretty bummed about that, but we were impressed with how they played.

Somehow on Sunday morning, I felt fine when I woke up so I immediately got ready to go out for my long run of the week. I haven’t had a long run since before we went to the beach, so I was kind of nervous on how I’d handle the 7 miles I had on my training schedule. Which brings me to the point of today’s post.

Half-Marathon Training: The  Long Run

A ‘long run’ when you are training for a distance race is basically the longest run you’ve done on your schedule thus far, plus one mile. Ideally, you do one long run a week during your training. If you’re a beginner and you are training for a half-marathon, most likely the longest run on your schedule will be 10 miles. The first time I trained for a half-marathon, I did 10 miles exactly one week before my race (no tapering). I wouldn’t suggest doing that, but I didn’t really follow a training program per se. I just knew that I was supposed to get my mileage up to 10 miles and, according to the sources I’d read, the adrenaline would carry me through the last three.

Well, that is true, but after 11 miles, I was pretty spent. I’m glad that this time around I’ll be up to at least 12 before the race:

The Long Run can be a bit daunting. I usually have to really psych myself up for them, and (this is a personal preference) do them first thing in the morning or they just don’t work out.

First, let’s talk about the logistics of the long run, starting with why they are important. The point of the long run is to build your endurance for running distance races. You shouldn’t focus on speed on your long runs, in fact, you should try to run them slower than any other training race. The reason for this is that while you will get the same endurance benefits, but you will recover much more quickly so you can continue your training the next week (or even the next day) without taking too much time off.

If you find yourself huffing and puffing (where you wouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation) during your long run, you are going too fast. It’s even important to take water, stretch or walk breaks during your longest runs of the week. The point is to take it easy, but keep running for a sustained amount of time.

Despite the fact that I sort of dread getting started on a long run, I never, ever, ever regret completing one. Sure, there have been times that I’ve not completed my mileage because I just wasn’t feeling it, but I always try to get at least a few miles in. Also, a good tip is that even if you split up your mileage (do half in the morning and half in the evening), it still counts as a long run on your training schedule, but remember that on race day, you won’t be able to take a several hour break at the halfway point.

One point that Jeff Galloway makes when talking about long runs (and one that is often overlooked), is the mental benefit of the long run. There is something about finishing the longest run of your training schedule that really builds you up for the rest of the day. Also, I love ending my week with a long run in the morning, because when you’ve completed 1+ hour of running, you get to be completely lazy for the rest of the day 🙂

What about entertainment on long runs? Well, for me, music is fine for a run that is less than 5 miles, but once I get into higher mileage, music gets a little old. Two things that have really gotten me through longer runs are the NPR  This American Life app (a great radio show about remarkable things in everyday life), and audiobooks. If you have a smart phone or an iPod touch, these two things are right at your fingertips.

While we were at the beach, I read about half of a book that was at our beach house. Of course, I had to leave it behind when I got home, so I picked up the audiobook from the library and I’ve been listening on my longer runs. It’s the perfect way to get in some “reading” while running!

Question of the day:
What is the longest distance you’ve ever run? 

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3 Responses to “Half-Marathon Training Series #2: The long run”

  1. BackatSquare0 (@BackAtSquare0) September 18, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    Chilli fest would be awesome. I like spicy hot, but spicy with flavor. Not just burning my mouth off. We have a mac and cheese fest here which is fabulous!
    I am with you on long runs being not only physical, but mental. Feeling like you have done it before and can do it again totally helps my brain convince my body to keep going.

  2. A Tool Box For Dad November 2, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    Nice blog… Go Herd… class of 01

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