My longest run in a long time and finding the love in running

Tomorrow, Saturday, is my first 22 mile training run, in a long, long time.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m 11 weeks in to this current Ultra Training program, and have done two 18 milers and a 20 miler, but before this program, the longest I’d done was some poor half marathons each year for the last five years and the longest training run in 2 years was February of 2015 and that was a 15 miler.  2009 – 2011 was the peek in my running.  More Half Marathons  then I care to count (PB 1:37), 2 Full Marathons (average of 3:30 per) and an attempt at a 50 mile ultra (Dropped at mile 39 in order to prevent injury).  Then life changed and I just struggled to find a love for running, every run felt like a chore, and as my running base dropped each run became harder and harder, on my legs, on my lungs, on my mind.  Running became a chore and something I could easily opt to not do on any given day.

November 1 2016, was day 1 of my Paleo experiment and in the back of my head one of my hopes was that I would find a passion for running again.  At the time I did not have any races in mind, nor any running goals but I did secretly hope I’d find my love for running.

So as I started in to Paleo it was not easy to go out and crush cardio nor should you try to; Your body is still adjusting and you no longer have sugar stores or “carb” stores in your body and the simple fact that I hadn’t been really working out much either so my body wasn’t ready to work hard, let alone with no stored “fuels”.  So to compare let’s look at a few of the months before November, 2016

  • August 2016 – 47 miles, avg 4.76 miles per run (10 runs), avg pace 8:31
  • September 2016 – 53 miles, avg 5.88 miles per run (9 runs), avg pace 8:55 (poor half marathon ran in there)
  • October 2016 – 33 miles, avg 4.12 miles per run (8 runs), avg pace 9:08

Then Paleo started on November 1, let’s look at my months since

  • November 2016 – 54 miles, avg 4.55 miles per run (12 runs), avg pace 9:35
  • December 2016 – 115 miles, avg 8.18 miles per run (14 runs), avg pace 9:23
  • January 2017 – 154 miles, avg 11 miles per run (14 runs), avg pace 8:57

In those 3 months prior to Paleo, those runs were not easy, I struggled to hit those paces, I remember how hard those paces were to hit.  November and December, I focused on slowing down, just to start to train my body to run again and to run without sugar stores.  Slowing down is mentally challenging but I wanted to get the runs done and new I wouldn’t feel good if I pushed it.

December is when my ultra training program started.  I run 3 days per week, two mid distance runs (typically Tuesday and Thursday) and one long run, Saturday or Sunday; I do cross-train twice weekly as well and one of those cross-training sessions includes sprint work on the treadmill.  I learned that for me 3 or 4 days only with runs, works for me, I’m not super young, so I need to be kind to my legs.

In January, I started letting my legs pick up speed and as my runs have been progressing I’ve started to not look at my GPS watch as I run and just tick off the miles in my head as the watch vibrates at each mile.  Why not look?  A couple reasons 1, I don’t want to be pushed by the clock or the pace and just run with what feels good on my legs and my lungs, and two, it can be easier mentally for the long runs to not be visually reminded of how many miles you have left  and to be fair I don’t have to look as I’m not itching to get the run done, I’ve started enjoying them.

Now the runs are not only easier but for the last couple weeks I’ve started to run sub 8 mins per mile for several miles including a 7:49 average over 7 miles while in Vancouver on Feb 1st, and two negative split 7 milers in Orlando this past week with the back half of each both around 7:43 per mile.

So as I stated at the start of this post,  I didn’t have any running goals when I started on what was originally a 21 day Paleo experiment (we’re now over the 3 month mark of being Paleo) and now I have signed up for 3 races, the goal race being a 50 mile trail mountain Ultra in May and the other 2 being part of my training runs, a half marathon that includes an 11 mile warm up (scheduled 24 miles that day) and a marathon, which I never thought I’d do another marathon, but might as well let someone else worry about holding my water for me instead of me having to run carrying it!  As of right now I’ve not come up with a goal time for the 50 mile ultra, last year’s winner was 7 hours and 9 mins, and the last person was 14 hours and 28 minutes (the course cut off is (14 hours)  I just want to finish, though I have started to play with a finish time goal in my head.  Not ready to talk about that goal time yet, still have many long training runs to go, but we will see.

So now tomorrow is 22 miles, it snowed a foot yesterday and I hope the river path is cleared up.  Today I just focus on relaxing, fueling, hydrating and making sure I have my breakfast items for tomorrow morning and my fuel to run with so that I don’t have to stress or rush and then I just take the run, 1 mile at a time, hydrate every 3 miles, fuel every 6 and take it easy, slow down and don’t look at the watch, just run what feels good on my legs and my lungs. Don’t push it, it’s a “marathon” not a sprint and the goal is to finish the distance not go blow everything out so I don’t have any goal times for the run, just get it done and hopefully feel good when it’s over!

Until the next time, Bobby

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