I tried something new on today's 8 mile long, slow distance run: no iPod for the first while. I guess it's not entirely new, but it's been a really long time since I've run sans music. I went the first 50 minutes just listening to my footfalls and chatting with myself - both internally and externally. I only passed two other runners, so it's not like the town thinks I talk to myself all the time. I hope.
In truth, I probably could have kept the thing off the entire run. It was refreshing to process out loud, to remind myself to relax my shoulders and toes and to kick up my heels. Most importantly, I stopped thinking about running, minutes per mile and distance, and just enjoyed the cool, windy, rainy weather and the stream of consciousness that flowed.
It was lovely.
What's more, it kept the run EASY, which is what a long, slow distance run should be; it's about making the distance, not about doing the distance as fast as you can. That's what race day is for. I was more disciplined with my walk breaks as well. No, I still don't do true 10 and 1s (10 minutes is just not long enough...11 to 13 is better for me), but after last week's 7.3 miles where I felt a little beaten by mile 6, I thought I should give the Running Room's tried and true strategy a chance. I mean, 1 million John Stanton lovers can't be wrong...right?
I wanted to finish strong (my goal for the Flatlanders isn't about speed, it's about keeping it together and feeling like I was prepared for the distance), not just finish and so I walked at minutes 10:30, 22, 35, 49 and 1:02. At an hour I hit the 6 mile mark and realized that holy crap, taking it easy and taking walk breaks was turning out a faster run than last week's push. I thought I must have miscalculated as I wolfed down a disgusting Orange Vanilla carb boom with caffeine. Fake orange is just nasty folks, as is fake cherry. Bleck.
But back to my run. The gel kicked in about 1:10 and I ran out of route before I ran out of energy. Sure, I could've kept going what with all that sugar pumping through my legs, but my knees were a tad sore and my hammy a bit tight. Total time? 1:21:50 for 8.09 miles...10:06/mile.
Holy shit, kids.
No, that's not "fast" by most standards but it's a full 10 seconds/mile faster than last week and I felt BETTER at the end.
And just what did I think/talk about on my sans music run? Work, money, running (I couldn't help it), my form, Weight Watchers, Chou, the husband, making another baby (not sex, you numbskulls, the idea of a second one, the timing, the decision...it's a tough one to make, one we're not ready to make, if you must know). I enjoyed the scenery, remembered my breathing (thanks, yoga!) and just stayed in a happy place.
This week's plan? An easy week of recovery after three weeks of building. I'm still going to run hills, but toss out the long run this week. I'll focus on yoga and Shred and long walks in the evening. And then? Then comes two weeks of 10 milers.
Hang on to your hats!