Category Archives: long run

I’m getting this long-run thing down pat

My run this morning: Awesome. Best long run I’ve ever run. 15.95 miles in 2:17:38. Didn’t cramp. Didn’t get tired. Finished strong (last four miles in 32 minutes). By the way, this time is 14 minutes faster than my 25k El Scorcho hell walk in July.

Credit goes to three things: 1) I started slow. Real slow. First four miles in 9:24 pace. Remember how I griped about not having a coach to run with? This morning, they placed me in another group, a group whose runners had similar times to my times. So I didn’t run by myself as much as I did with the other group. And the coaches in this group were great. But I guess it wasn’t a coaching problem. It was a pacing problem in my other long runs. When there are 4 or 5 people in front of you running 8:30 warm-up miles and 8-minute miles coming out of the gate, you are going to get tired. But that wasn’t case today.

The second reason my run went so well: I took two Hammer endurolyte caps. One at mile 4, the other at mile 10. I also took on Hammer gel at the 1 hour mark and honestly, I don’t think I needed the hammer gel. The endurolyte caps kept me from cramping. At the end of the run, I felt a few twinges, but I think that’s because I skipped the mile 14 water stop. I was feeling so good that I decided to take it on to the house. Of course, about half mile past the water stop I was like, “Ohh, I should have had some water.” So I finished a little dehyrdated, but I finished and I finished strong.

The other reason: The weather. It was 69 degrees when we started. It is usually 75 to 80 when we start our long runs.

This run puts me at 41 for the week. I figure I’ll run 40 miles a week for the next two weeks, then do a cutback week. In October, I’ll do 45 miles a week for three weeks then do a cutbak week. And in November, I’ll ramp it up to 50 miles a week for three weeks before I taper for the big marathon.

Put me in coach, I’m ready to run

I’ve complained to other runners that my “coach” on the Saturday long runs with the Lukes Locker marathoners doesn’t really coach that much at all.

Let me set the scene: There are more than 100 of us who show up every Saturday at 6 a.m. at the Luke’s Locker on University in Fort Worth. We get paired into groups according to our running times. I’m in the fastest group, though I am probably one of the slowest runners in the fast group, i.e., people in my group run their long runs from 7:45 to 8:45 minute per miles.

Anyway, within our group are two or three “coaches.” They’ve run several marathons, some under 3:30 and closer to 3:00. The ideal thing would be for the coaches to run with you, make sure you are doing okay, hydrating enough, not running too fast, etc.

Now, one of the coaches has been injured so on a run two weeks ago, he rode his bicycle next to me for most of the run and that was nice. But most of the time, these coaches, who are really really fast, run with the lead runners in my group and I end up running most of my long run alone.

Now, I don’t mind running by myself, but I did shell out some decent coin to get in this program and gawd-dangit I wanna make sure I get my money’s worth. I’m not saying I need somebody to hold my hand through every mile and trust me, I’m not the kind of guy that likes to talk during a run. I’d rather use any extra energy I may have by breathing.

Still, I get this certain kind of energy when there are other runners around and I’ll need all the energy I can get when running for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

I brought up my concerns to the guy who runs the Fort Worth Lukes Locker marathon program and he said he’ll put another coach in my group who runs close to my speed.

Getting my long-run confidence back

The last two runs I’ve done that have been longer than 10 miles have not ended well.

I started cramping at mile 10 of the 25K El Scorcho race on July 20. And I was so sick at the start of an 11-miler on July 26 that I had to walk for much of the last mile.

So even though I’m doing sub 8s for tempo runs and sub 7s for intervals, my long run confidence has been shot.

Boy, did I need today’s run to get that confidence back.

My marathon training schedule called for 14 miles, with 5 hill repeats somewhere along mile 9.

I brought along two Hammer chocolate gel shots, which I took at Mile 5 and Mile 10. I drank two cups of water at each water stand, which were placed two miles apart.

It was 80 degrees with humidity about 78 percent. And there were hills everywhere.

And I did just fine. My goal was to try to run most of my miles between 8:30 and 8:45.

But after the first two warmup miles, my adrenaline got the best of me. Each mile between 3 and 8 were between 7:50 and 8:10. The 7:50 came after I took my first Hammer shot. Whooo-hooo, that gave me this crazy burst of energy.

The good feeling didn’t last long as Mile 9 brought the hill repeats. 100 feet in about a 10th of a mile. Our group leader said we shouldn’t do them if we weren’t feeling good. I tried one and it just about took everything out of me. The inside of my right thigh also started cramping real bad, but I stopped, stretched real good and continued, though I was done with the dang hill repeats. Heck, most of the run was one big hill repeat.

The rest of my run was a struggle, but I was able to run a sub 9 for three of the last five miles. I finished the 14.18 mile course in 2:02:45, about an 8:39 pace. (Total time doesn’t include me stopping for about 30 seconds at each of the water stations) My last mile, in which both hamstrings and calves, started twitching, was in about 10 minutes, so you can tell I was hurting and would not have been able to do another 3 miles in 8:39 pace.

Still, it was just the kind of run I needed to remind me that I can do this marathon thing. I’ve got to run slower on these long runs, especially in the beginning and I need to keep up with the fluids as I did today. Also, because this was my longest run since El Scorcho 20 days ago, my body wasn’t quite used to the long distance.

But good thing White Rock Marathon is in December, not September.

There is plenty of time to get better.

Why I needed scissors for this long run

Imagine this: You are at the water stop on the halfway point of an 11-mile run. You open your pouch to get out your gu/gel pack/carb mix so you’ll have enough fuel to finish what, so far, has been a surprisingly good run even though you’ve been battling a stomach virus and have only eaten a banana, and drank some gatorade and an Accelerade shake in the previous 12 hours.

Imagine how stupid you feel when you can’t open your packet. Seriously. That was me this morning. A packet of Accelerade waiting for me, but I couldn’t open it. And nobody happened to have scissors on the route. So I drank what the organizers had arranged for us and went on, knowing that on what I’d eaten the last day, I was on borrowed time; also knowing that I’d finish because it was an out and back course.

The out was mostly uphill though a very well-kept neighborhood. There was a 1-mile warmup, then a mile when we did these crazy leg exercises that included high-knees, walking on our heels, running on our toes, and skipping. Then we ran 3.5 miles to the turnaround. My splits were 8:13; 8:17; 8:15; and 4:02 for the 1/2 mile split.

My stomach was going every-which-a-way. But I didn’t panic too much when I couldn’t get to my food because I knew the way back was mostly downhill. And off I went: 4:14 for the 1/2 mile split; 7:56 for mile 7; 8:24 for mile 8; and 8:57 for mile 9.

Notice a trend? The bottom was falling out. All the other runners in my group were so far ahead of me that I couldn’t see them. I was no match for the 80-degree day. I did the last two miles in about 21 minutes, walking about two-tenths of the distance to stretch out a cramp.

I hit the stop button on my Garmin 305 when I walked and so the amount that I ran was exactly 10.76 miles in about 1:34:51. I went home. Slept for 4 hours and woke up with the biggest headache and an even bigger appetite.

The former is because I was dehydrated. The latter is because, perhaps, my stomach bug is gone.

Yeah, and I hope it never comes back.

Elscorcho run: I’ve got work to do

Friday, I signed up for the El Scorcho Run, a 25k race scheduled for July 20 in Fort Worth’s Trinity Park.

The race starts at midnight.

In Texas, or as we say Tek-Ses, the temperature around midnight in July is still in the mid 80s. So today, I went out for a 15k run (OK, it was supposed to be a 10-miler, but I didn’t make it that far) just to test my long-running ability in the heat.

It was 76 degrees and 75 percent humidity.

I tried to run a slow pace so I’d have something left at the end. Five of my first six miles were in 8:40 or worse. But no matter how slow I ran, my heart rate kept climbing, 80 percent of maximum by mile 2 and 86 percent of maximum by mile 6.

By mile 7, I was screaming uncle. I managed a 10 minute mile, felt better on mile 8 (9:25) but worse at mile 9 (10:12).

It was an out and back course, so I had no choice but to keep going. But it wouldn’t be running. I walked about half a mile before I jogged the final 1/2 mile to the car.

My final time: 9.65 miles in 1:29:53, a 9:19 pace.

I didn’t drink anything during the run. (Big mistake), and I had two glasses of Gnarly Head Zinfandel the night before (Another big mistake. It wasn’t even all that good).

So I got two months to train for El Scorcho. And though I didn’t feel too good about today’s run, it did put the wraps on a 30-mile week, the most miles I’ve run in a week since I ran 41 miles the week of Feb. 4.