The long run that maybe shouldn’t have happened, but did anyway

And I think I’m ok with it.

In the week following Hyannis, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. A part of me thought that a significant PR meant I deserved some rest. Another slightly bratty part of me was pissed that I missed breaking 1:45 by four seconds and was aching to pound out every run – hard – between now and the NYC Half on the 17th in hopes of being ready to crush my new PR. The rational part of me tried to point out that the NYC Half will happen no matter what, and it might be in my best interest to find balance so that I can recover from what was in fact a hard race and be fresh and uninjured for the NYC Half, giving me the best chance to kill those 4 seconds.

Neither Lazy nor Petulant Steph were impressed. Shut up, rational Steph, there’s no room for your logic here.

I’m not great at balance. In my not so long history of racing, I’ve spaced my races far enough apart (months…years…) that I never had to worry about balancing recovery with actual training. “Consistency” was not something I cared much about when it came to training and base building, leading to many injuries of the too-much-too-soon variety and all the accompanying frustrations.

I ran my first marathon in 2011, and since then I’ve run far more regularly, but I’ve still never had races so close together. And yes, I consider three weeks so close. I’m miles (see what I did there?) ahead of where I was, but I’m still relatively new to this. Running that first marathon, and everything that came after, has left me in this odd position of feeling like I can do anything, without knowing very much about what my body can actually do.

But back to this long run that may or may not have been a good idea. In marathon training, 13 miles was often a step-back week, in between the big runs – 16, 18, 20…whatever. I became one of those weird people who says things like I only have to run 13 miles this week. And I still have that mentality – in terms of training. When those 13 miles have a .1 and a finish line at the end, my brain can’t imagine going equally as long – or longer?! – a week later. And that’s the mentality I’m trying to shift.

So Saturday I told myself that if I did a long run, I could do NOTHING for the rest of the day. Blissful couch time with compression socks, sweat pants, and ice cream. Ice cream loaded with peanut butter cups, to be exact. There’s not a lot I won’t do for peanut butter cups.

I pulled my sneakers out of Time Out (remember bratty, petulant Steph? Yeah, my Blue Brooks were actually in a corner all week in TIME OUT, and my Pink Brooks came out of semi-retirement as an example of how properly behaved sneakers conduct themselves. Maturity at its finest.) and set off in a new direction along a bike path I’ve been meaning to check out for awhile.

And it was good. My pace hovered around 8:30 (new marathon pace? Yes? Hey body, let’s make this happen.). The path was nice, mostly scenic, and full of runners, walkers, cyclists, dogs – enough traffic that I never felt alone out there, but spaced out enough that I never had to fight for my own space. The sun was out, and even though it was cold, it felt like maybe spring is almost here.

Around mile 4 on the out portion of my out and back, I noticed the path start heading in a slight up-hill direction. It was only just noticeable to look at, and not bad enough to have any serious affect on my pace. Checking out the elevation profile after, however, it looked pretty impressive, to me at least, which was definitely a bit of a confidence boost for this certified Hill Wimp.


In the end, I ran 14 miles. A long run, post PR, with a solid uphill and a consistent, respectable (for me) pace – hello endorphins. The only downside was that around mile 5, I started feeling a little bit of tightness in my hamstring. Not pain, just tightness, but after I stopped moving, the tightness became more pronounced and hovered closer to the pain mark. I’m hoping it’s nothing, but I’m taking it easy just in case – yoga, my stick, sensible shoes at work – and if I feel anything resembling pain as I go about my daily workouts, I’ll back off. Anyway, that’s why I say maybe this run shouldn’t have happened, but I can’t really complain. Mentally I think it was just what I needed. Roll on NYC.

What about you: Do you run back to back races? Take breaks in between races and long runs? Do you have a go-to confidence boosting run?

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