Long Runs Suck

September 10, 2012
“That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going.”  Forest Gump, 1994
My wife and a few other friends I know are training for their first long race.  Some are doing half marathons and some are doing the full marathon.  But in either case this is their first exposure to training for a real race.  I thought since I’ve strayed a bit in the past from the running “theme” (ok, I’ve strayed a lot) I would write one that might actually have some good tips in it from my perspective.  For sure I am still a Novice runner and I still run mainly to try to work off the pizza from last night.  But I have gone through this once for a marathon and am about in the middle of training for my second.  The training has been totally different both times so we’ll ultimately see what works and what doesn’t.
What Doesn’t Work: Tripping and falling.  One thing I can tell you that doesn’t work – running on the streets of Westminster in London where they have these 12″ x 12″ square cement pieces that aren’t necessarily aligned.  Digger.  Can you say digger?  Yes, last week I took a face plant.  Well, it was more of an elbow and knee plant thankfully but still a digger nonetheless.  Expletive.  That was my reaction.  Then I got up and kept on running.  I went about a half a mile and realized my super expensive over the ear headphones and iPod were probably laying back where I was just laying.  So I turned around and came to the spot of the fall.  No iPod.  No headphones.  I look over at the cleaning truck parked along the street and the guy who is sitting in the car with his window down holds out his arm with iPod and headphones in hand.  He says “the gentleman that just passed said if that chap who fell comes back make sure you hand him these.”  Two thumbs up for London hospitality!
What Works:  Sticking to the Sunday Long Runs.  Hal Higdon (my mentor and nemesis) says “don’t cheat the long run”.  What he means is this is the most important aspect of getting yourself to the finish line of the race.  In my first time around as a marathoner I stuck to his program verbatim.  This time around, not so much.  I’ve done things this time around that would make Hal hang his head in disgust.  Things like telling myself instead of doing 8 miles this Wednesday I’ll just do 4 miles one day and 4 another.  Seems like a fair trade-off.  And instead of running 14 this week maybe I’ll just run 10 and walk 4.  I think he’d ultimately be ok with this if he knew what a lump I was but it seems like “cheating” anyway.
There are going to be times where you just have to cheat because your body isn’t up to it.  Let me tell you about one of those times.  Yesterday and when I was supposed to run 17 miles (which turned into 16 with a bit of walking in the middle).  NOTE: Skip this next paragraph if you are squeamish.
What Doesn’t Work:  Road kill.  This Sunday I decided to try to imitate everything I would do during the marathon and then run my 17 miles.  This includes the normal runner body glide stuff, the taping and the meal.  I usually eat a banana and a bagel with peanut butter and away I go.  So this time I eat the banana and toast up some wheat toast.  I spread a little of the good for you Organic Peanut Butter my wife had purchased and take a bite.  Alarm, alarm!  Waving arms like Danger Will Robinson!!  Puking is about to happen.  Here’s what I can tell you.  There had to be a rat or a mouse or something dead that had been mixed in with that stuff about halfway down the jar.  My wife laughs at me but guess what.  We’ve been eating the top half of the jar for the past month without a problem.  So who’s laughing now.   And I can tell you my stomach is still not laughing.  It made for the longest 16 miles in my life.  Literally came to puking about 5 times on the route given the road kill between Jones Bridge and Holcomb Bridge.  I’m sending that jar back in with a scathing letter that is for sure.  If they say I can have a few free jars I’m sending those back too with another letter.
What Works:  Water belts.  Long runs make you thirsty.  So go buy yourself one of those fancy water belts.  They are heavy and bulky but they work.  They don’t make you look pretty though.  In my case it kind of looks like I have two of them on.  But they do work.  And fill two of the four bottles with Gatorade or whatever you plan to drink on race day.
What Works:  Motivational sayings.  I’ve seen things people use like “Just Do It” or “Keep Moving” or “This is for so and so” to keep themselves going.  I’ve found a new one that plan to use “Suck It Up Princess”.  In the end finishing is 90% mental if you’ve done even half the training.  So this is to combat that left brained nay sayer and works for me.

Running Update:  I’m more than half way through training.  Just an 18, 19 and 20 miler ahead (with some “shorter” weeks in between).  With all the traveling of late including a trip to Peru this week it is tough.  I’ll be talking to Mr. Treadmill to avoid the kidnappers.  That’s a shame because the weather is sunny and a high of 66 low of 61 each day.  I did consider putting on that fake stache and staying on the main roads.  But then I saw that they border Columbia so I’m not wanting to say hello to any little friends this week.  Treadmill it is.

Only 31 months and 26.2 miles to go…