Tips on Surviving Your Long Run…

The long run is often noted as one of the vital training runs to not only build a base but to increase your mileage. It can be intimidating as you’re looking at your training plan wondering how you’re ever going to get the stamina to get to 14-16 mile runs.

But you can do it. With some of the points I’ve picked up along the way – you’ll be on the road to topping your weekly mileage. You might be running 6 miles todays and

1. Don’t look ahead
It seems counter-intuitive but if you’re looking ahead in your training plan to a distance run you haven’t hit yet – it can become a mental barrier. You may be mid-run of a 6 mile run today. If you’re struggling, your mind starts to question your manhood (gender neutral) on how you’re expected to run 12 miles in 2 weeks.

Focus on today’s goals. Think about how far you’ve come in running and not how far you have to go.

2. Check your pace
80-90 percent of your training runs should be in Zone 2 of your maximum heart rate. Zone 2 is typically 60-70 percent of your maximum heart rate. If you’re not using a heart rate monitor when you run, focus on a pace that you are sure you will be able to maintain for an extended duration. This can be anywhere from 2-3 minutes slower than your 5k race pace.

Humans have this intrinsic nature to focus on numbers. The error in beginning runners is focusing on speed and their time. We want to see results and see them now. Focus on new distance goals and the speed/pace will come. Another bad tendency is that we think others are watching us and judging. It’s why your pace will likely pick up when you come across a stranger on a bike trail. Stop it. Run so slow they think you’re a running mime and be comfortable with it.

3. Give me Fuel, Give me Fire
As you start to increase your distances, you’ll need to remember your high school or college biology classes. Takes notes as there will be a quiz. Food contains macro nutrients. They’re called macro because the body requires these to function. Carbohydrates. Lipid/Fats. Proteins. In the interest of brevity, these are fuels, provide cell health, and build muscle.

Use your long distance runs to experiment and tweak your fueling strategy. See how your body handles running on certain foods. Marathoners or other endurance runners will “carb-load” prior to a race to increase availability during the actual race. If you’re eating a double cheeseburger, it’ll likely carry over to your run the next day and not in a good way. Make sure your fueling before a run with good carb heavy foods (bagel and peanut butter, OJ, oatmeal etc). If you starting to run beyond an hour start to incorporate fuel into your actual run. This requires some planning to carry Gu gel packs or chews. Fuel in anticipation of needing it, not as a reaction to your current state.

Of equal importance is hydration. Water. Make sure your drinking at least 80 ounces of water everyday and particularly 2-3 days before your run. Hydrate during your run as well. Run laps so you can stop at your car or a water fountain. Join a running club who setup water stations on training runs. Or invest in a belt which carries water bottles. Again, drink even though you’re not thirsty. Be proactive and not reactive.

4. Break it down into Smaller Segments
Is it easier to know you have to put together an entire car or are only responsible for getting the tires on? Think of your run as specialized or broken down into smaller parts like an assembly line producing a car. It’s easier to focus on completing this 3-mile segment I’m running than focusing on the whole 12-miles you’re doing today. The benefits of running on a trail or outside vs. the treadmill are that you can create landmarks. Focus on the treadmill or tree up the road as your next goal. When you reach it, scope an object ahead to use in the same manner. I guess if you’re on a treadmill you can focus on the lady on the treadmill ahead of you. But this may get you kicked out and you will never actually reach that target which can be deflating.

There are other things you can do like repeating mantras or taking breaks. The key is to find what works for you. That is why running logs and food diaries become useful so you can document what you ate that led to that personal best distance run and repeat, repeat, repeat.

Is there something you’ve found that helped on your distance runs?

Why I Run: See the Unseen

One of the benefits of running is seeing the unseen. We took an impromptu day trip to Minneapolis over the weekend to catch a baseball game.

I woke up early to get in a decent run I would be missing with the Des Moines Running Group.

Minneapolis Run

This was as close to a “zen run” as I’ve had of late. Too often running or training starts to become work to many. Repetition and repeat. But a morning  run in a new place is typically enough to provide some excitement to those training runs. While it’s kind of touristy – the novelty of seeing old mill plant remnants along the Mississippi makes the decision to run in new areas unique.

The brief route hugged a trail that crossed the Mississippi River and crossed back over with a brief stop on Nicollet Island.

We also rented bikes (again..touristy) to ride the same route later in the day, which was a pleasant ride.

Overall, it was the great summer stay-cation to clear the mind and refuel heading into the beginning of the Des Moines marathon training program starting.

What’s the Coolest thing you came across that made the run unique?

Running Track Playlist

Something New

Rogue Wave – Lake Michigan

When to Use: I put this in around 10-20 minute mark to give a little bit of a coasting pace.

 

Something Classic

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun

When to Use: I shuffle this in towards the end of race playlist to bring down the pace just a little bit.

 

Something Wild

Rittz – Switch Lanes

Where to Use: Up to You

 

 

Run to Exile (10k) Race Report

Or How I Learned to Not Organize a Race…

in·au·gu·ral

/inˈôg(y)ərəl/

Adjective

Marking the beginning of an institution, activity, or period of office: “his inaugural concert as music director”.

This is the definition of inaugural. It’s a fancy word for new. Untested. Run to Exile 2013 was an inaugural race. Untested.

It was my first afternoon race. So getting the right nutrition became a game in itself. A couple bowls of cereal and a Clif Bar. How much water do I need to drink? The stories surrounding port-a-potty escapades left me hesitant to drink too much water.

We arrived a the brewery to a decent crowd of race goers and an even larger crowd of last minute packet pickers.
I left the wife at a bar side table and boarded the bus to the drop-off point for the 10k. Roughly 10 kilometers away from the brewery (foreshadowing).

Start with the Basics

We were dropped at an area park and it then became some sort of weird social experiment. Volunteers were trying to call back to home base to determine where the starting line was. The group of 50-100 racers began making the trek down the road under the assumption the starting line was awaiting us there. After a while the caravan stopped, realizing we weren’t following any volunteer or race official.

People starting to come out of their houses to watch the Asics parade now taking place. We past the 3:00 “gun time” and were told officials were coming to start us. Eventually enough of a groundswell took place that a trickle of runners caused the whole waiting group to start heading towards downtown.

You should have a starting line and a finish line before anything else.

The race was a decent scenic route which hugged the mighty Des Moines River. Despite the issues with the start – the police traffic and volunteer support was pretty strong on the course.

ExileRun

My pacing was slower than I wanted – with a goal of (again) running a negative split. Somewhere in the 10:30 range for first half and bringing it down to 10:00 min/mile pace for the second half.

Around mile 4 – the sky began to spit. Park of my “taper” during the week was to run in the rain in anticipation of someday doing it. Thoughts of Forrest Gump came to mind and the importance of keeping your socks dry. It also became a question of how waterproof my Garmin  Forerunner 610 claimed to be.

Go the Distance

As I rounded the last turn and cruised into the finish line – I briefly glanced at the clock as it read 59. My wife and a friend were also there, in the rain, cheering me on as I came across. There was a rumbling of “That time isn’t going to be accurate as they have no idea when we took off and it wasn’t chipped.” I wasn’t getting any medals or planning on putting the results on my resume, so it wasn’t grossly important to me. As a I grabbed some carb recovery, thoughts of the using the slip’n’slide setup nearby popped up. But I wanted some chocolate milk and a water. Glancing at the Garmin – I noted the distance. 5.56. So my first “official” 10k was not even that. Do I cross it off the goal list? So our original caravan at the starting line must have stopped a full half mile short of the intended starting line, if it was in fact measured.

Oh well. I hugged my our goal (despite being short on the distance). Had a good beer and some delicious fries afterward. And also got my first medal.

Do you have any unorganized race day stories?

Dam to Dam Race Report

Race Day. Started early. Like 5:30 to 6:00 early. I wasn’t sure what the parking situation would be like at Iowa’s Largest Race – so I made sure the family was out the door in plenty of time to spare.

We parked within single engine plane distance of the start/finish line for the out and back 5K. The 5K is the smaller of the two races held during Dam to the Dam. The 20K is the more popular race and starts North of Des Moines at Saylorville Dam (hence Dam to Dam).

We hung out at the finish line as the first elite 20K runners trickled in around the 1 hour mark (officially 1:00:56). Insane. The weather was pretty much perfect as we gathered at the starting line for the 5K. It would be my first official race barring a DNF or surprise arrest warrant as we ran by Des Moines Police Department.

I did a brief warmup and took a spot between the 10 and 9 minute corrals. Wearing my newly purchased Garmin Forerunner 610 – I tinkered with buttons to get the metrics I thought would be good. While I knew heart rate monitoring and pace monitoring isn’t a big deal in a race of this size – I wanted to play with my new toy.

The gun was off and we shuffled toward the starting line. Net time of right around a minute to the big chip crossing the starting line. From where it was a slightly controlled chaos. Through my early foray into running, I repeatedly read how important it was to “run your race” and not let the excitement of the small races cause you to barrel out only to struggle to the finish mats.

It seemingly was lost on me as I weaved in and out of runners – at one point using the sidewalk due to congestion. My Running List music hit some odd selections that didn’t work come race time. Like the classical styling of William Walton. That’s my bad. There was a little too much fumbling with my headphones as I forwarded through tracks.

But it was a good run as I kept up my desired pace of sub 10:00 min miles. We eventually made our way to the hairpin turnaround which features Iowa’s hill. We have more than one, but this one happens to be on the race course. During race prep I took some time to run it so knew it was coming. Despite running a race pace I hadn’t been accustomed to, I managed to easily maneuver up the hill and make the turn down back to the finish line.

It was passing mile 2 that my pace began to catch up to me and I found myself near the max heart rate area. My breathing wasn’t clean and I was using the water stations when I probably didn’t need to in a 5K. The distance from the 400 meter line to the finish line probably needed to be measured again because it sure felt much longer. But I crossed the line still maintaining a pace I hadn’t carried through “training”.

My first sub-goal in a sheet full of running goals was now complete. Officially race a 5k.

I grabbed a Poweraid – unsuccessfully tried to grab a 20K finisher medal and then met up with the family at our rallying point.

We ended up walking to another area in Downtown Des Moines for the Farmers Market. There was a good deal of walking. My feet hurt. But I was proud of my accomplishments and excited to see my Official Time. Damtodam.com posted the results later that Saturday night, 30:23. I wanted to be right around the 30 minute mark but was pretty happy with the results. Middle of the pack! 553 out of 2700 racers in the 5K!

DamtoDamPaceTakeaways: Focus on steadier pace. The weaving in and out of people only adds distance you need to run. Have fun and not worry so much about time and pain.