Today I want to talk about one of my biggest struggles in my training for Boston: the long run. In the past the long run has been one of my favorites. Of course, they are always challenging but this time around I’ve been struggling more than normal.
I’ve spent the last several weeks really trying to determine what it was that was that was making these runs so tough for me. I was beyond frustrated and several times have just felt like quitting. Yes, I’m not ashamed at all to admit that. There are some days where you question why the heck you sign up for these. I knew deep down that I didn’t want to quit, but I really wanted to find a solution to help!
The first long run I just figured was one of those bad runs you will inevitably having during any training cycle. However, after 3 pretty awful long runs in a row I started to realize something wasn’t quite right. I sat down, spoke with my coach, spoke with my husband, and finally came up with a few things to help aid in my long runs each week.
There were two main reasons I was having bad long runs: fueling and mental strength.
For as long as I can remember running I have run all of my long runs fasted. There were a few runs where I remember feeling it at the end, but for the most part I never had a problem with it. Each Saturday (my long run day) I wake up, put on my running clothes, complete my morning chores, drink water, and then within an hour to an hour and a half I begin.
Even though I’ve been running for a while I have never fueled before a long run, or during, and with a sensitive stomach knew it was quite a risk. My coach is a big believer in fasted running because it helps your body to become metabolically efficient. However, if it is necessary to eat beforehand you don’t want to overdo it but take in just enough to have a successful run.
I had a call with Dan on Friday and we decided on the following fueling plan for my 20 miler Saturday:
- 1/2 piece of toast with peanut butter (45-60 minutes prior to my run)
- Honey Stinger Energy Chews starting at mile 13
I ended up eating the pre-run fuel about 60-70 minutes ahead of time because I was still really nervous about how my stomach would handle it.
I took my first two Honey Stinger Energy Chews at mile 10 and then another three at mile 13. That was all that I could stomach during the run.
The good news, the run went much better! It was still a struggle near the end due to it being much warmer than expected but overall I feel like we are on the right path. I don’t really have an answer as to why my body now needs fuel when it didn’t before, but I’m so happy to have a coach who is so willing to help out!
I still want to play around with it a bit to find what the perfect formula is for my body, but I definitely think we are on the right track.
Oh boy, here we go with this one again. Ever since Chicago I’ve been really struggling with my mental focus and strength. It comes and goes, but the mental strength I had when originally going for my Boston Marathon qualifying time just hasn’t been there and it has been frustrating to say the least.
I wish I could pinpoint one thing. During my Chicago training, it was a classic example of burn out. It was easy to see the mistakes I had made and I took the necessary measures I needed to end out my training strong and run a strong race for the most part.
This cycle has been more frustrating mostly because I am cutting back my miles, but still seeing the same issues when it comes to not being able to mentally push myself. This is especially true when it comes to my long run. My husband and I had one of those real deep, long conversations on our way out of town Friday. I explained to him how I was feeling, but that I couldn’t really understand why. If I can’t understand why, it makes it increasingly more difficult to find a solution.
The truth is there have been a lot of personal issues I have been dealing with over the past few months. I think these issues have bogged my brain down so much that when it comes to running there isn’t much left. It’s hard, but in order to get my mental strength back I have to be able to let go.
I can’t tell you that this has been fixed yet. Some days are great and other days, not so much. I’m doing the only thing I can and focusing on one day, one run, on workout at a time. Admitting this was a big thing for me and helped, but I still have some work to do.
Mental strength and focus can be a tricky thing and can be impacted by so many different things in our life. It’s important to recognize what is causing the issue and work towards a resolution. That is my focus and goal for the next 4 weeks of training for Boston.
For those of you who actually made it through this long winded post, thank you! I’m trying to be as open as possible and we all have struggles but the most important thing is learning from them.
Running is always a learning process. We all have to make adjustments when our body tells us too. Sometimes the hardest part can simply be listening to your body.
What is the last adjustment you had to make in your training?