Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Long Run

AM: 4:00 :: 37.25 (6:26/mile)

Someone out there must really not want me to get my long runs in. I walked out to the car this morning to drive over to Lake Calhoun and it wouldn't start. Okaaaayy... I guess I'll have to do the same River Rd. loop I usually do, which while convenient, doesn't exactly help with the boredom factor in a four hour run. But I was determined to get this run, so I set off hoping that by some miracle the River Rd path would magically be clearer than it was yesterday. Well, it wasn't. The Minneapolis side was in fairly good shape, but a little icey. St Paul was bad and getting worse as the sun came out and turned the hard packed snow to mush. And don't get me started on both bridges or should I say "hardened snow craters". The last straw was when I got across the Ford Pkwy bridge to find that the sidewalk hadn't been plowed forcing me to either run on the road against traffic or cut across and take the shortcut down to West River Rd. I took the shortcut. So my first loop was 9 miles in 59 min. What I found most frustrating is that I was feeling great. The first mile out the door was 6:35.

Now I don't want to sound like a wuss, because in the grand scheme of things the path wasn't that bad. I mean I think back to the long runs I did in Duluth on Skyline Dr. and how it was basically taking your life in your own hands. I could have run four hours in the conditions today, but a) all the slipping and sliding was aggravating the minor soreness in my foot/achilles and b) I've done enough long runs where I just run for time in order to build strength. I'm at the point in my training where I need to be more conscious of pace.

So at the end of the first loop I quickly stripped down and threw on some shorts and a different pair of shoes and finished out the remainder of the run on the treadmill. Its a good thing I had that first hour out of the way, because I found out that three hours on the mill is my limit.

The first hour went by quickly enough. 6:27 pace felt pretty relaxed in comparison to the first hour outside. I had my aid set up on the console so I would only have to jump off for potty breaks.

Hour #2 was still comfortable (6:22/mile pace), but required a bit more focus. I tried to "forget" that I ran an hour before getting on the treadmill in order to trick my body into thinking the pace should feel easier. It worked for the most part. I kept track of total time on my watch, but the 'mill time read an hour less.

Going into the fourth hour (#3 according to the mill) I was still with it. I employed the tried and true trick of telling myself "I can run an hour. No matter what I can always run an hour!" Now this is an obvious fallacy. Towards the end of almost all my 100k I've questioned whether I could run another step (sometimes I couldn't; for awhile at least). So the deception only works to a certain point, but luckily for me I was feeling good today and it didn't take too much convincing to barrel into the last hour (6:18 pace).

I took advantage of the fact that I was running on the mill to analyze my stride, breathing, etc. I focused on hip flexion and running with a "sitting" form (keep that ass down!). The last half-hour was a struggle, not so much physically, although my calves were sore and the hamstrings were definitely tighter. The biggest obstacles were mental. I had to break it down into 10 minute blocks. I felt like a zombie by the time the run was finished. It wasn't the 40 miles I had hoped to get it, but four hours is nice run nonetheless.

Its hard to compare this run with others because I've never done this sort of run on the treadmill. I still feel it was a quality run and the pace I kept was encouraging. The nice thing about the treadmill is that I had no option to slow down (oh, I suppose I could have slowed it down, but I tend to be a bit OCD about avoiding that). So I really worked the mental aspect of holding pace. Hopefully that translates back to the road.

I strayed from the usual long run recovery meal of a Denny's Grand Slam/IHOP Stuffed French Toast in favor of Rocky Rococo's, a delicious decision.

Bring on the warm weather.

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2 comments:

loomdog said...

Awesome man. You made the right call to go back inside. The treadmill is predictable and easier on the legs, but tougher on the mind...and that is probably the kind of work you need most. Nice run, I was thinking about you here in Egypt while running in shorts and T-shirt sweating.

Greg

crowther said...

The fact that you completed this run says a lot about your current level of motivation. I could never, ever run for three hours on a treadmill (unless someone were paying me lots of money).