Easy Long Runs and Lessons Learned!

I didn’t post last Sunday after my 16-Mile Long Run – really due to the fact that I was completely drained when I was done!  There are a lot of lesson’s learned while training for your 1st Marathon and I can honestly say that I learned all I thought I needed to learn last year while training for my 1st Marathon!  However, last week I learned a very valuable new lesson while training for Marathon #2….RESPECT THE DISTANCE!!!

Just because you have done it before doesn’t mean you can just sluff through the 2nd one…even if you are still in decent shape a year later!  For this year’s Cowtown Marathon, I was well ahead in my training as I ran an 18-Mile long run on December 11, 2011.  I felt great and gained so much confidence that I had plenty of time to train hard to reach my goal of running #2 in under 4 hours!

Then the head colds and sinus infections started and I became exhausted.  I fell behind in my training and did not do another long run until January 8th, 2012…almost a full month since my last one!  I did 14 miles that day and although I thought I was right where I needed to be, at about mile 10 I crashed!  I began to really slow down and hurt…the kind of hurt you feel when you are running that distance for the first time ever!

That’s when the mental part really started to kick in for me regarding my goals for this 2nd marathon.  I kept thinking to myself, “why can’t I just run the half…it would be so much easier to get through!?”  Now, don’t get me wrong…a half marathon is still 13.1 miles and is no easy task – especially if you are also putting a time goal on that as well!

Back up a week and enter the Yasso 800s!  After running these last year, I was really excited to get started on these for this training plan.  Last year, performing this speedwork really helped me to improve my speed as well as my form.  I saw some really significant gains by doing these workouts!  Naturally, I was very enthusiastic about starting these up again this year despite not quite feeling 100% yet.

So began the beginning of the end of this year’s full marathon!  I thought that I could just buckle down and get all the workouts and distance in and still be able to hit my goal of under 4 hours.  After the 14-miler on Jan 8 and the subsequent “bad” runs I had, my mental state was in bad shape!

I can look back on it now and understand that there are still lessons to be learned!  These “bad” runs and exhaustion and mental blocks were simply my body telling me that to shave 35 minutes off of a marathon in one year is no easy task!  I’ve talked to a number of friends that have run plenty of marathons and they all tell me the same thing…just run the 2nd one to improve your time by a little.  You will learn more that you can use on your next one and shoot for 4 hours on that one!

After last week’s run, I made the decision to step down to the half.  Initially, I was elated!!!  It was like the weight of the world was lifted off of my shoulders.  I talked to my brother who empathized with me that since I wasn’t going to meet the goal I wanted then it was ok to run the half — I was going to go for a PR in the half so it wasn’t like I am just completely giving up.

Later, I started to feel the regret of that decision and started having second thoughts!  I know I can run another marathon…and I know I can beat my time from last year.  What I have realized is that I want to really push hard on the half and set a good PR for myself and enjoy it rather than struggling through a full marathon and not be able to enjoy all of my family afterward!

Even now, I still have second thoughts about running the full…I really long for that feeling of running for 26.2 miles!  The battle you face within yourself over that distance is amazing!  However, I am still standing firm that I will enjoy the half and will commit to running a sub 4 hour marathon next year!

In the meantime, here is my recent training runs that I’ve uploaded to Strava.com — they are a pretty cool site that is getting better all the time!


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