The Return of Double Digit Long Runs

It’s weird to have a motivation to train again. It’s exciting to know I have to run, but not take as much convincing as I normally would. I definitely have the treadmill to thank for that, but also concrete goals and the right mindset. 

When I was aiming for that sub 1:40 half, I knew it was possible but truthfully, I don’t think I thought it was possible right now.  I certainly wasn’t training for a possibility of it right now, either. My Carmel goals, though?  I think they’ll happen so long as I put forth even an ounce of effort more than I did for Chicago. 

Chicago was hard for me because I was balancing the terrifying thought of becoming reinjured and also racking up enough mileage and consistency to get me to the finish. While I got to the finish and made it through training basically unscathed, it surprises me. I had to reflect on my training and how I felt to help put this new plan in place. Seeing 31.5 miles as my peak (unintentionally) blew my mind. How did I finish a marathon on that?  

The good thing is, since Chicago, I have become stronger. Even though I haven’t regularly done CrossFit for the past couple months, I can tell I’m stronger than I was. I feel more powerful in my strides and more injury resistant. Don’t get me wrong, I have felt a few aches and pains as I increase my training intensity but I’ve made time for the things that count – Epsom salt baths, foam rolling, dedication to my lacrosse ball, yoga, and yes, once again, CrossFit. The difference is remarkable. But I still have a little hesitation. 

This week was interesting for running. I fell into a weird trap early on of napping and eating when I came home from work (4:30pm) and then hopping on the treadmill with energy (and digested food) around 7.  It was working nicely for not feeling rushed or too tired but it was awful when I wanted to sleep and couldn’t until midnight or later. 

Monday, that meant listening to Brand New on Pandora which was more motivating than I anticipated. I increased the pace and incline every so often and knocked out 3.5 miles. 

Tuesday I only got a couple in at recovery pace because my calves had the worst cramps. It took a full two miles to realize it was the compression socks I was wearing all day. 

Wednesday was my return to the gym. I kid you not, every single time I’ve returned to the gym after a couple months off, Fran is the workout. So now I’ve done Fran four times and three of those were on my first day back. I finished in 7:33 while using just a bar and doing majorly banded pull-ups. I felt that for dayssssss. 

Thursday I attempted to make my muscles hurt less by knocking out a few miles and was less than successful. When Friday came, I felt guilty for not running but realized I didn’t have a day off in a bit and told myself I deserved it. My muscles thanked me as I walked around the house with constant T-Rex arms. 

Then came Saturday. The day I needed to go out for a solid long run, despite the bricks my quads were made of and the pain I still felt in my inner elbows (screw you, Fran.). Now, I haven’t run a double digit long run technically since May. I mean, I did run a portion of Manz’s 100 miler this summer (12.5 miles for me), but it was a lot of run/walking considering she had already crushed 50. 

Erie Canalway
So Saturday morning, I set out to run 9ish. I planned it to be easy. I haven’t fueled for any of my “long” runs yet because they’ve just been easy and time on the feet kind of miles. It was my first time outside running in well over a week and it felt weird, but good. Within the first half mile though, I knew it would be hard. My legs were toast. By mile 3, I felt like I was out there forever and this was never going to end, but I kept running because I knew I had to. I didn’t even have a route, so once I got to one end of the bike path I just turned down some busier street, which was leading me into a part of town I did not want to be solo in — daylight on a Saturday or not. I made my way back towards my neighborhood and came upon another part of the bike path, this one along the canal. I decided to go for it; the pathway was clear of snow and ice, plus I’ve never been on it. At some point here, I stopped feeling like this was the never ending run and enjoyed it. I felt like the previous five miles flew by and I could go on forever. Oh runners high, I missed you! It wasn’t long before I started to do the math, however, and realized if I didn’t turn around at that moment these 9 miles would turn into 11 or more. Oops. The remaining four or so were straight into the wind, which I suppose will be good training for when I want to die at mile 23 in April.  Somehow, I managed a nice little progression right into an 8-something final mile, closing out 10 for the day. 

I assumed I’d be dead for the remainder of the weekend after that, but instead my body felt like it never happened. I recovered surprisingly well (thank you, Epsom salt bath?) I happened to look at my heart rate data after the fact and noticed that I spent the entire run in zones 1 and 2, which are under 75% of my maximum heart rate. This has never happened for me. I recall struggling to be in the sub 80% range last winter, running 10:30s. Hey fitness, I don’t know where you came from but I hope you stay!

My last month has hovered between 16-18 miles with increasing intensity and days each week. I’m planning to get into the 20+ miles this week since my body has been handling the increases pretty easily. Maybe it was all that extra beer, too… 

Another week of being on my own, then I’m following a plan and am sure I’ll be doing real training, no more flying by the seat of my pants. Hey, sub 4, I’m definitely coming for you. 

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Brittany

Just a 20-something homegrown Buffalo sports loving, distance running, gin drinking kind of girl.

3 thoughts on “The Return of Double Digit Long Runs”

  1. With the Holidays, it sounds like the week went well. There are some long runs I recover from quickly and others that it takes me a week. Glad that was one of the earlier. Which compression sleeves gave you cramps? I find that too if they are too tight.

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