Merry Christmas! The next few days are about to get crazy busy so I’m not sure now much posting I will be doing. We attended one of our annual Christmas parties yesterday, so we couldn’t help but snap a picture in front of the tree. My husband comes from a pretty big family, so we celebrate Christmas Day with his family on the weekend before the actual day so we can all be together. Of course, the day wouldn’t have been complete or as fun if it didn’t start off with my Sunday long run!
I already recapped much of my efforts last week because I posted about some of the different workouts I completed (track workouts and speed work). I don’t normally blog about my specific runs and paces, but I really want to keep track of my efforts as I move towards 2015 and my goals. I ran five days and 44 miles this past week. That’s the most mileage I’ve run since before the Chicago Marathon, and I finally got back up to a 14 mile long run. The previous week was a rough one for me, with a not-so-pretty hill workout and a tough race at the end of the week. It wasn’t that any of it was really “bad”, I just didn’t feel great. Having a few “wins” this past week felt good.
For this past week, the icing on the cake was my Sunday long run. 14 miles, 7:05 pace! We started a little more conservatively, and ended faster.The best part was that the last two miles were the fastest, with a 6:52 and 6:46. There were several other sub seven minute miles sprinkled throughout the entire run, but those were the fastest and meant the most because they were at the end. We were tired, we were hurting, we weren’t even able to talk – but we were pushing! A group of us went out for our long run together, but I mainly stuck with Kathy the whole time since we took off and cranked out the miles. For the first half, I was able to talk but was slightly concerned that I might not be able to hold that pace. After our first mile (it was a little slower as we warmed up), I saw our pace hovering in the 7-7:10 range and I panicked a little. I know my coach actually has it on my schedule for next week to run that pace for my long run, but I hadn’t really mentally prepared for that to happen any sooner. We’ve been running around a 7:20 pace for our long runs, so this was a bit faster right out of the gates.
I don’t know if I could repeat that performance again anytime soon (I sure hope I can!) but it was a HUGE confidence booster. I remember in the fall of 2013 when I began breaking the 8 minute mile barrier on long runs. I felt exactly the same way I felt this weekend when we were pushing the pace and hitting some sub 7s. Panicked that I would burn out, and worried I couldn’t touch those paces again. But the more I ran, the easier it got. Soon, it was “normal” to hold 7:30s for a long run. Not “effortless” but what once took everything in me to keep up with my friends turned into me leading the pack. Kathy has really been working hard lately (definitely harder than me – more miles and longer runs), so it was really great to have someone as determined as me to knock out such a good run. It was really challenging to run that fast for 14 miles, but I hope tackling that pace is the beginning of breaking through another barrier.
Around mile five, I took a gel. Normally, for a 14 mile run I’d only take one gel but my coach is working with me on nutrition. He recommended bringing 3-4 gels on the run, just in case. I ended up using two of them – the second one was at mile nine. It made a huge difference and I don’t know that I could have held that pace without some fuel. The calories helped me focus and held off any negative thoughts. He also wants me to break out my fuel belt but I absolutely hate running with it. I’m still deciding what I want to do to get some fluids in my system while running. I’ve also used a hand held water bottle in the past but I don’t like that much either. I know he’s right, I’ll figure something out eventually.
Other than running, I had two nice swim workouts of about 3,000 meters each. I’ve really been loving my morning swim sessions and how they loosen up my legs. I did core work almost daily and got to the gym for a few strength training sessions. I made a point to get on my yoga mat almost daily to stretch and foam roll. A few weeks ago, the local running store that I frequent informed me that I was the lucky winner of a brand new pair of Newtons! Lately, I’ve been preferring my Brooks Pure Connect (4mm drop) and Nike Zoom Elites (8 mm drop), but I wore Newtons for over a year. I backed off the super low drop shoes when I injured my calf in the summer but do miss them. I prefer my Brooks, but like how Newtons really reinforce that forefoot strike because of the lug design. I don’t know that I want to use them all of the time, but I really want to use them for my speed workouts. I prefer the Distance model because of the 2mm drop. Originally, I ordered the Distance Elites but they sent me the Distance S instead since they were out of stock. I’m stoked to have another pair to add to my collection, and even more excited that they were free!
Do you wear a fuel belt running? What does your nutrition and hydration look like when you are running long? Ever take notice to the effect it has on your run?