Things have been pretty busy this week, so I never got around to reporting back on last Saturday’s long run (I’m sure you were holding your breath…). Did I do a better job preparing and recovering from the effort? Ehhh, questionable. But I got the miles in and my legs feel good, so that’s all that really matters. But in general, long runs….UGH, they stress.me.out.
“But Megan, haven’t you been doing this for a long time? Haven’t you trained for and run marathons in the past?”
Yes, all true, but that doesn’t stop me from having mini panic attacks whenever I think about double digit runs. My original plan was to wake up around 8am on Saturday, drink my coffee, have a small breakfast, and hit the road by 9am. I had hoped to be showered and smugly sipping a hot chocolate by noon. “What! You’re just waking up? Well, I’ve got 18 miles in the bank!” Ahahaha. Yeah. That did not happen. Instead I fretted about the weather for awhile and decided to wait until the light rain/snow subsided. Okay, new plan: eat some yogurt and granola, catch up on emails, and start running at noon. Really. Wellll, noon rolls around and I start getting very anxious about the run. 18 miles!?! By myself! That’s so long. Maybe I should just do it tomorrow. Yeah, what a great idea! Tomorrow. I texted a few friends to see if they had plans to run the next day – I always feel more confident in my ability to complete a long run when I have company. Ehhh, no such luck. The three running buddies I contacted all told me the same thing “Just get it done today, Megan. You’ll be happy you did.” Still stressing out about the mileage, I decided to further procrastinate by hiding under my down comforter, watching 37 minutes of 2 Days in Paris, and eventually eating 6 slices of buttered toast. Because that’s basically the same thing as a bagel and I was low on groceries.
Finally, finally around 3:30pm I decided to just bite the bullet and head outside. At this point I was still only hoping for 6 miles, although I knew in the back of my head that I’d probably shoot for the whole shebang. I ran from my apartment, over the Brooklyn Bridge (I hip-checked a tourist who wouldn’t move over, YAY), and up the West Side Highway. When I reached 9 miles, I just turned around and doubled back. Was this a very interesting run? No. Was it fast? Not really, I averaged 8:45 pace. Did I have fun? About as much as a root canal! But I got it done, all by myself, partially in the dark, and not in the best state of mind. 18 miles in 2 hours, 38 minutes. Effortless long runs with friends are great, but sometimes the toughest runs provide the best preparation for race day. Hopefully when I’m running through the streets of Boston with tapered legs, an optimal nutrition plan, and cheering crowds, I’ll remember how I stuck it out through all those lonely, boring miles.
Last week I hit 72 miles without too, too much effort and my legs feel surprisingly good. It’s cool to notice my endurance progressing over time. I remember the very first time I cracked 60 or 70 miles – I also remember my legs feeling veryyy tired and beat up. Now it feels a lot better. I may not be in the fastest shape of my life (hey! college track season), but I don’t think I’ve ever run this much volume while feeling so good. Can you tell running and I are on good terms these days? Hah. I know that could change any minute…But my point is – I think it’s important to keep pushing your boundaries. 30 or 40 or 50 miles might seem like a lot to run in a week right now, but if you keep increasing over time it will eventually be “no big deal”. If you’re here for the recipes, this mileage talk might not interest (or apply to) you, but if you’re a competitive runner, try bumping up the mileage. I really do think that the best way to become a better runner, is to practice running. Sure, there’s all sorts of crazy cool stuff that happens to your body when you run a lot (increased running economy, improved v02 max,etc), but you also gain experience and confidence. Although clearly I am still working on that when it comes to long runs…
Besides excessive buttered toast eating, how did I prepare and recover from this long run? Still not perfect, but it could have been worse. I stopped for a chocolate coconut water after about 13 miles and sipped it slowly for the remainder of the run. Should I have drunk something sooner? Yes, probably, but I was on running along a path with no water fountains, open bathrooms, or stores. Anyway, post-long run food was one of my guilty pleasures: spicy ramen with extra vegetables. Mmm, sodium. And a tart cherry-seltzer mocktail. Because it’s important to hydrate! And not with beer. At least not right away….
In other news, I had a lovely Valentine’s Day with some of my favorite single ladies. We hit up Pulqueria a new Mexican-Tequila-Pulque joint in Chinatown (yup, you read that right). We had to traverse the maze-like streets of Lower Manhattan to get there and when we arrived? No signs, just an unmarked staircase leading underground. I was barely cool enough to be there.
There was pulque (an alcoholic beverage made from fermented agave plants), tequila cocktails, micheladas…it was a good night!
Pumpkin Seed Dip (sort of like guacamole…):
Verduras and Cochinita tacos:
Hooray for mid-week lady dates that last until midnight.
Do double digit runs stress out anyone else? Or do you love long runs? If so, tell me your secret!