Now that I only have 3 long runs (over 20 miles) left, I decided to take a moment to think about what the long runs have taught me. Sure, they are helping me become physically fit, but there is so much more to it. For example, I have focused on my body’s overall strength, my nutrition (both while running and in general) and my pacing.
First off, I have learned that my endurance has improved. Over the last 11 weeks, I have worked hard and it’s paying off. I started training after running a 35k where I felt really good until mile 18. After continuing to train, I can now run 22 miles comfortably. My endurance will continue to improve until race day.
I also learned that my nutrition is improving all the time. I have decreased the number of calories I need out on the trail. In my opinion, this is due to general trail running improvement as well as tapping into my fat reserves.
In addition, I learned that electrolytes are essential in these long runs!
Most importantly, I’ve learned that my pace makes a HUGE difference. The hardest thing for me is to start out a little slower than I want to regardless of how good I feel so that I have more in the tank at the end. This past weekend’s run was a perfect example. Miles 1 – 8 I probably ran 15 – 30 seconds per mile too fast. Then miles 9 – 14 we picked up the pace. Perhaps the fact that the terrain was less challenging explains the change of pace. Miles 15-17 were on pace. And then, unfortunately, there were 3 miles in the last stretch that were a little slower (by about 30 seconds) and a little more challenging than I had hoped. Although the overall average min/mile time was good, I would have liked to feel a little better at the end.
A few other random thoughts:
It’s ok to walk hills. If the timing is right, it’s a great time to fuel.
I should trust my training. My long runs have been good and I should feel confident.
The last few miles will be tough and I’m going to feel it in my legs. I will embrace the feeling.
Mileage is all relative. The other day my husband and I were talking about the week and how long I’d be gone on Sat. morning. I told him, “It’ll be quick. I only need to run 10 miles.” My daughter was listening and quickly chimed in, “Mom, ONLY 10 miles?!” After completing so many long runs, I forgot that 10 miles is nothing to squawk at.
I’m loving the challenge of these long runs and what I’m learning from them on my adventure to running my first ultramarathon!