I'm finding my long runs really tough at the moment, I seem to have a mental barrier at 7 miles when I decide that running a marathon is a stupid idea, particularly trying to run it under 4 hours. At 14 miles it's even worse, I'm tired and just want to go home, and I keep reminding myself that I will have to run the same distance again (almost). These mental battles with myself are all part of the training, and learning to push through the low points will help on race day.
During MK Marathon training I've run only two of my long runs on my own, the majority have been with friends. I like running in a group because it's good to have someone to talk to, to distract you from the distance, to commiserate if its raining and/or cold, or to push you on when you're feeling like jacking it all in (or to moan louder than you, so you forget your own discomfort). I love the feeling when we all finish the run and we share biscuits or cake and have a chat. But they've not all been great: sometimes I've not eaten properly beforehand, or not brought food and water with me, and I've struggled to keep up or keep going (and then felt guilty for having to walk, or for slowing other people down); sometimes the pace has been faster than I wanted and, although running fast once in a while isn't a bad thing, I don't enjoy knowing I'm the slowest runner in the group.
The two long runs I've done on my own have been tough; I've walked every time, which isn't good for me feeling like I did my best run (although walking up steep hills is allowed I reckon). But it's nice to run at my own pace, to seek out a challenging route, and to get home knowing I ran all by myself with no help.
Today's long run was planned last week, after I read my friend Lewis' comment on Strava about his long run being a long painful slog. I know that feeling! I knew we had about the same distance to run this week (I had 18 miles planned and he had 16) so I offered to run with him. At the NHRR 5K on Saturday, my friend Ed asked what my long run plans were, so we arranged for the three of us to run together.
I ran earlier than our arranged meeting time so I could get my extra 2 miles in beforehand (nothing worse than having to add on miles at the end of a group run). Met Ed by chance, who was running 20 miles, and he dragged me around the new estate at 8:30 pace before I complained loudly.
The route we ran was one I'd run a few weeks earlier with some other club friends, to Baldock, following the Baldock Beast course until Wallington, and then run back to Ashwell (where we split up and Ed headed back home to complete his 20 miles). It entails crossing two A roads, but I'm now used to doing this so I wasn't as scared (a little bit scared). I had a moan at 7 miles when we were unfortunately also running up a steep hill, and I felt tired and wanted to go home on the long run from Hinxworth to the A1 (on a flat road but into a headwind). With no sympathy forthcoming I just had to get on with it. (Next time, invite a girl.)
Carrot cake was the reward this week. Sorry Ed, forgot to give you your piece in Ashwell, so Lewis got double.
I missed club on both days this week, family reasons on Tuesday and then work on Thursday. So I had to run on my own (getting used to this). Tuesday lunchtime I ran intervals at a local underpass, I did 10 sprints up the long incline (which is about 150 metres) then meandered home, running 5 miles. Wednesday I ran 8 miles in the evening after dinner, just a steady run (because of the nearness of eating). Then NHRR 5K on Saturday, but conditions were too muddy for me to run fast, unfortunately, so I had to view the muddy struggle as a workout rather than a run.
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: Beginners run club (2 miles); Pilates
Wednesday: Tempo run: 6 miles with 0.5 mile fast/slow repeats
Thursday: Run club (both sessions)
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: 20 miles easy (3 x laps of Standalone, or 2 x Letchworth loops. Or 10 laps of Stotfold)
Sunday: Rest day