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Long Distance Running-Can I Maintain?

Posted Oct 18 2008 2:34pm 2 Comments

On Saturday I ran a half marathon.

13 miles.

No race. No event. No cheering spectators. Just me and my Asics, two gel packs, some water and a few crackers to fill up my stomach.

I have to say, it was an awesome run. I added on two miles so I got to explore unchartered territory in the form of a neighborhood with old Craftsman homes. It was beautiful.

Toes grew numb, yes, but I kept going.  I ran through the pain, as they say that you have to do. Eventually they quieted and only hurt again when I stopped.

There were no major issues with the run itself. I did well, in my regular time-no faster yet no slower.

The problem was when I ended.

The idea that I have to now increase that mileage is scaring me. I look ahead at my running plan for the next 12 weeks and see 16, 18 and 21 miles runs. How can I ever go that far?

I’ve only gone as far as 13 miles. A half marathon. How will I increase that?

I took an echinacea when I got back, after eating lunch. My kids are sick; I wanted to prevent that, as i know that as you train and increase in mileage you are much more likely to get sick than when you are running shorter distances.

Ten minutes later I threw it up.

My suggestion: Don’t take supplements when running long distances. They just don’t mix!

luckily the crackers on the run, the two gel packs and the half piece of bread beforehand helped to squelch my blood sugar from dropping. I felt fine after the run and didn’t have to sit down, eyes half closed, wondering if i was going to make it another minute.

But I just don’t know if I can do 26 miles.

How is that possible?

It is, I know it is. I read the stories. I’m training. each week I increase, I get stronger, and yet the idea of running 26 miles is starting to scare the crap out of me.

Next week, on Saturday, I run 15.

Will I make it? I’ll report back and let you know. In the meantime I will concentrate on taking one step at a time. Tomorrow’s run is just 45 minutes. This sounds so little now that my long runs take over 2 hours.

And I will do as my daughter’s Christmas song says and, “Just put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking across the floor . . .”

Comments (2)
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Your description of how you feel after that run, and your fear of increasing your distance, indicate that you may be pushing too hard in your training. Here are suggestions for your consideration.

First, run heavy/light. Those words refer to stress not to your effort in running. Your 13 mile run was a heavy run, a very heavy run. That run put a lot of stress on your body, and your body needs at least 48 hours to recover. Your 45 minute run tomorrow is a good idea if you run an enjoyable pace. It is not a good idea if you run at a faster pace. Your run tomorrow should be a rest run, giving your body the rest it needs, for it is during rest that your body recovers and becomes stronger. Instead of running tomorrow, you might consider doing light cross training, such as swimming, easy cycling, walking, or a day off from exercise other than your normal routines. Remember, tomorrow should be a rest day to help your body recover.

This week your long run was 13 miles. Next week it will be 15 miles. That is about a 15% increase, a pretty big increase. Consider doing only a 1 mile increase (8%). This is the 10% rule that is referred to in the running literature: don't make increases bigger than 10% per week, unless you're young (in your 20s) and have an awfully strong body. It's like going up stairs. Do you want to take the steps 2 at a time or 1 at a time? Why?

After three weeks of good training, take a rest week in which you reduce your distance to  70-80% of your normal. This will help your body catch up in its recovery.

"But," you say, "following your suggestions will mess up my training plan." "Well," I say, "maybe you need to change your plan." Training plans aren't sunk in concrete. That can and should be modified to fit your body. The person who wrote your plan assumed a sterotype of a runner, and it's unlikely that you fit that sterotype. Thus, you need to modify your plan to fit your body.

Listen to your body. It's been yelling at you to get you to back off in your training. 


Get Jeff Galloways "Book on Running"

Great Marathon Training a must read for the beginner.  I am currently training for Los Angeles Marathon having done nine marathons to date.  I read this book cover to cover and followed his expert advice.  Your first marathon finish is your best marathon!

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