Even though I would have been pleased to be done around 15-16 miles, I never suffered. I felt quite good when I finished and I'm sure I could have gone further (though I was happy to stop, as well).
So that brings me to the topic that I have been thinking about...how do I pass the time in a long run? (This is different than in a long race, though.)
As in any run (including races), it helps to break the distance into smaller chunks. My standards are 5-mile segments and 2-mile segments, or sometimes a combination of the two.
I also like to break it up into segments by geography, as opposed to just mileage. These segments can be shorter or longer, but generally speaking longer is better in the beginning, and shorter is good near the end, in the last few miles.
For example, today I had the following segments to run through (I know this will be boring)...start to 64th (less than a mile), up to 67th (more than a mile), to light at Grove, to 88th, to 108th, to high school and roundabout, back to State Street, all the way to the start of the highway, across highway to Everett (2.5 miles +), to the top of the hill by Legion Park, along the waterfront with random signs as landmarks, to Marina Village, around Marina Village (one mile), to the pedestrian bridge that took me back to Grand Avenue, north on Grand to 19th, east to Colby, south on Colby to 23rd, Everett Avenue, Pacific, and 37th, where I turned aound. At this point I had a little more than a mile to get back to my finish point at Starbucks, and I just ran to random landmarks from block to block. Done!
I almost always use my iPod to distract my mind. (Unless it is tragically discharged!) I have been tending to listen to podcasts for parts of longer runs, usually Phedippidations because it's about running and the host, "Steve Runner" has a loud clear voice that is easy to hear over most traffic. I do feel that I run slower with podcasts than I do music, ALTHOUGH last year I once did a fabulous and fast long progression run listening to podcasts up to the last three miles.
I like shows that are about an hour because when you finish one, you've done 5-6 miles! I might listen to two or three episodes, then switch to music for the last few miles. Today I played three podcasts and didn't turn on music till mile 17.
I like to set little goals to make myself run a little further before I do something. For example, if my podcast ends at 4.5 or 5.5, I'll keep running (in silence, I CAN do it) till I finish the next full mile before stopping to adjust my iPod.
I will plan to take Gu or other fuel at a certain mile, but maybe push myself to wait until the NEXT mile before I do it (unless I am feeling weak). Today I had a Gu after nine miles, before heading onto a 2.5-ish-mile highway segment. I felt I needed extra energy to tackle that and didn't want to stop while I was on it...otherwise I might have waited until ten miles. (I didn't eat anything else until I was done, I didn't need it or even think of it!)
Last week I had ShotBloks with me (three bloks per serving) and I spaced them at miles 10, 12, and 14 of a 15 mile run. Gave me something to look forward to!
(This delayed gratification scheme works for music and food, NOT for bathroom stops!)
I think turning on music for the final miles (after listening to talking) really shakes things up and give me extra energy for those difficult miles.
Sometimes my own thoughts help pass the time, and sometimes not thinking does. For example, if I start fretting about work stuff (this usually happens during the week more than weekends), it is very freeing to tell myself that there is nothing I can do about it during this running time. I intentionally set these thoughts aside for an hour or so.
If I am not trying to pay attention to a podcast, I might tell a story in my head. For example, go over the events of a trip to England or Hawaii as if I were describing it to a friend. Or tell my "running story" or "weight loss story" like I was being interviewed for a magazine. Or maybe plan out a future trip, real or imaginary. (Recently I was fixated on the idea of going to Disney World in the rather distant future with my whole family when my niece was old enough to enjoy...of course it would include the Goofy Challenge half and full marathons. I spent some time mentally training my sister to do the half with me. We would do run-walk to make it easier for her and not wear me out too much before the full marathon.)
Sometimes I compose entire blog posts, but unfortunately my brilliant ideas rarely survive the run!
Today, since I was listening to Phedip, I didn't do too much independent thinking. :)
I finished at Starbucks where I bought my reward mocha. I have a bunch of free drink coupons but unfortunately forgot to bring one along. I had contemplated veering past my house to get one but really didn't want to stop at home until I was DONE. So I sacrificed a few bucks.
A lot of times after a LONG run my walk home from Starbucks has been hard, but today I felt great and loose, and was able to walk faster than I usually do after a much shorter morning run! Since then, later in the day, I have stiffened up some and am moving a little more slowly. Hopefully there won't be many aches and pains in the night. I rarely take Advil but I did this afternoon and I probably will at bedtime as well.
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