I will admit that I was a little worried about today's Long Run. It was scheduled for 8 miles -- my longest run to-date -- and I was having some doubts about how it was going to go. Part of me was positive that I could make it through the run. The other part was thinking that 8 miles was too far and I would wuss out somehow. Well, I was not going to let some insecurity stop me from succeeding!
So this morning I got up, got dressed in multiple layers, and went down to the Prairie Trail path. Now let me explain about this path. It goes for about 30 miles so it is perfect for long runs. Back this summer, I ran on this path with my friend Mike when the temps were in the 80s. At that time, I only had to run about 4 miles. We ran for about 2 miles and then stopped for water and to make the return trip. It was then that I got really dizzy. We ended up walking for a mile before I felt like I could run the rest of the distance.
Looking back on that experience, I am certain my problem was that I hadn't hydrated enough the day before, and I hadn't eaten anything before the run. I sweat a LOT when I run, so the result was that I was majorly dehydrated. Thankfully, I had PowerAde with me so during that 1-mile 'walk', I was able to replenish electrolytes and rehdyrate. After that run, I made sure to have a good breakfast and I was fine.
But the memory of that day haunts me a bit, which is why I picked the Path for this Long Run. I wanted to dispel that memory, and the feeling that I was unable to complete a run on that path. I am pretty sure that is why my brain was giving me the negative talkback. Needless to say, I was hydrated and had a decent pre-run breakfast (bread, almond butter, a banana, and milk) before heading out.
So I started the run at a steady 11:00mm pace -- a good pace for me on my Long Runs. I also wanted to make sure to keep my heart rate between 151-161bpm (my Zone 2) because training my heart and body to work efficiently at that level will help build up my long distance running stamina. It also is a level where the body burns fat for fuel rather than glycogen in my muscles (and that is better for both my weight loss goals and for endurance running).
It was pretty chilly out there. 37 degrees and I could see my own breath! I was dressed for the run so I was pretty comfortable, only my hands were a bit cold (I need better running gloves). If it gets any colder, I will definitely need a good headband to protect my ears too. So far, so good. I reached the 2-mile point (where I got dizzy on that last run) and I was feeling great! Legs were strong, no pain anywhere, and I was enjoying the latest podcast from "The Marathon Show". The scenery was pretty -- small lakes and ponds, birds and squirrels, all the colored leaves, etc. Before I knew it, I was at the 4-mile point and things were still good. Wow!
So I turned around. And for the first time, I opened a pack of gel from PowerAde and sucked it down (followed by 10oz of water). It took me about 45 minutes to run those 4.25 miles so I figured it was time for fueling. Until today, I hadn't run far or long enough to warrant anything other than water during my runs. This was a new step in my training, and I am happy to say that it went very well. When I run the Hot Chocolate 15K in two weeks, I will continue testing out what fueling options work best for me.
On the way back up the path, I continued to feel really positive about the run. No more negative thoughts were coming to my mind. I had switched from the podcast to my 'workout' playlist and was just having fun on the path. Then I ran up upon a deer on the path! It was so cool! I didn't know what to do because I didn't want to scare it and I didn't know if it was alone. So I slowed to a walk and coughed several times to get its attention. It just looked at me and didn't move as I walked passed it. Once I passed, I started running again. Wow, that was just so very awesome!
When I came to the end of the path, I had covered 8.5 miles. The cooldown walk to my car added another .40 miles. So the grand total mileage for today's run was 8.9 miles! I felt good and the legs felt fine. It was a great run, lasting 1:45 hours and I know I could have run for longer!
When I got home, I showered and went to weigh-in at Weight Watchers where I was down 1/2 pound. Yay for more weight loss! Then I went home and made myself a good breakfast of eggs, soy sausages, cereal, and milk. Afterwards, I did some stretching and foam rolling for a while.
As I write this, about eight hours afterwards, I still feel good -- no leg pain or stiffness. Tomorrow I am running a 5K race in downtown Chicago. Given how I feel right now, I don't think I will have any problems finishing. I won't be running hard, just for the fun of the race.
Yay for a solid Long Slow Run!!!