Sooooo I have a marathon coming up FAST. I’m running the LA Marathon on March 9th. My training was going well, right until the week I was scheduled to do my first really long run. Instead of logging 16 miles two weeks ago, I was fighting a nasty head cold and couldn’t fathom walking down the block, let alone running — so I fell back a week.
Last week, I wanted to hit 18, but only got to 15 total (3 early am + 12 later). It was hot and hilly, and I had trouble getting into a groove. My sports bra chafed (despite Body Glide) and left a large burn on my back. Both calves charley horsed around mile 10, and I was dehydrated. I also felt demoralized and started to wonder if I could do the marathon. Sure, I’d done one before but it was really taxing, both physically and mentally.
This last week, however, my marathon mojo was restored after my long run. On Friday, I got up at 5 am for Back on My Feet and logged two easy miles. Then, I went home, had some oatmeal, changed into dry clothes, got all of my gear (and more Body Glide) and set out to log 18 miles. I had a great run and want to share what made it so great.
Planning The Route
I took a little extra time to develop an 18 mile route that I was comfortable with and that would not destroy my body. I decided to run the Rock n Roll Los Angeles 13.1 course for the first portion of my long run — it is relatively flat and I know it well, so that was less daunting. From there, I ran down Sunset Blvd. and then Hollywood Blvd. to Western, and took the Metro home. Having a route I was familiar with, combined with it not being an out and back made it much easier mentally. The last three miles were gentle downhill, and scenic, which helped a lot. The course was also filled with cool sites:
I ran around the LA Memorial Coliseum around mile 3.5-4. Cool because of the
USC Trojans 1984 Olympics.
I then went back through downtown the opposite way to 3rd, down to Central, and then over the 6th Street bridge. I snapped this baby at mile 10.4.
From there, I headed over to Grand Park — here’s mile 12.8.
And then down Sunset through Echo Park and Silverlake into Hollywood.
As soon as I finished I refueled with some Jamba Juice and water. I kept pace with my Garmin but it got a little messed up running through a tunnel and one other time when I forgot to re-set it, but my total run was 18 miles, 2.25 earlier in the day, so a total of over 20 for the day! And weirdly enough, my pace was exactly BQ pace. That’s not creepy at all.
Plan Your Nutrition
Another thing that helped me have a great run was plotting out my nutrition. I had oatmeal and coffee about an hour before I headed out, and then took in some calories every 5 miles. I split a pack of Clif Bloks at miles 5 and 10, and then took a gel at mile 15. I didn’t carry water, but I hit up a drinking fountain at Grand Park (mile 12.8) and then bought a water bottle at a 7-11 at mile 15. This helped me feel good and helped mentally as well.
Learn from Last Week’s Mistakes
Last week my calves were a major problem. This week, the small addition of wearing compression sleeves made a HUGE difference — no charley horse issues at all! I also brought some salt pills and took those at mile 10 and when I finished just to fend off any possible issues. Worked like a charm.
Break it Up
18 miles was easy to break up mentally — it was three 6-mile runs back to back! This helped because I took a gel or bloks at miles 5, 10, and 15, so I had a milestone to look forward to often:
- Bloks at Mile 5
- First third done at Mile 6
- Bloks again at Mile 10
- Two thirds done at Mile 12
- Gel at Mile 15
- Done at Mile 18
Think Of the Little Things
Taking a few extra minutes to consider the little things also came in huge. Here’s some things to consider when planning for a long run:
- new playlist
- charged iPod/Garmin
- sunscreen/hat/sunglasses if necessary
- socks that won’t leave you blistered or bloody
- BODY GLIDE
- credit card and metro card
It is amazing the difference one run can make in my mentality — instead of feeling beaten down and warn out, I felt empowered and excited to take on the marathon distance again.
What makes (or breaks) a long run for you? Please sound-off in the comments!