I was looking forward to today’s long run a somewhat worrying amount. It had been an age since my last long run on 18th December, and that had only been 70 minutes long (with an extra 20 minutes tacked on a bit later). I had been run director at Ashton Court parkrun in the morning, and had been itching to pull on my own running shoes and rack up some mileage.
This was my first chance to go out on my own on a long run and work at an ‘easy’ effort (or heart rate zone 2) as I often do my long run with friends. The first quarter of the run felt terrible. Not because I had a niggle or it was hard work, but rather the opposite. It felt so incredibly slow. I could barely move above a brisk walk without my watch telling me that my heart rate was too high.
I was already mentally composing an email to my coach about how I must be allowed to do this long run at a higher intensity of effort and was worried that I would never get in any decent mileage, maybe only 8 miles or so, certainly I would never make it to Warmley my usual turning point for a 10 mile run.
But little by little I was finding it easier to run at such a relatively slow pace, and the warnings about going over my desired max heart rate were becoming fewer and fewer. I also started gaming the system. I knew that when I run downhill that it places less strain on my heart, so I sped up a bit then, and managed to hit Warmley just at my turnaround time.
The strange thing was that I felt fatigue just as if I had done the same route at a faster pace (which doesn’t somehow seem fair), so I understand a bit more the purpose of this run. As ‘time on feet’ it came it at half my intended marathon time in April, though I only covered just under 40% of the marathon distance.
It brought my total distance run for 2016 to 2,528km or 1,570 miles, a little less than last year, but not by much and I think this year’s running has been ‘smarter’ with more of a purpose behind each run rather than just the daily challenge.
Bring it on for 2017!