The irony of my title is that none of the 32 miles that I ran this week were easy. The weather wasn't in my favor so I "just ran" instead of trying to do workouts. I also realized that my next half marathon is a week sooner than I thought it was (I had the date correct but I miscounted the number of Saturdays in September) so I increased my long run distance to try and catch up.
Before we talk about this week's miles, here's my latest favorite lemonade-from-lemons COVID 19 development. The norm in our family during the school year is that I'm the first person to get up, anywhere between half to a full hour earlier before everyone else so that I can get my workout done by the time my stepsons have to leave for their bus. Well, now that school is back in session, bus o'clock is now the start of my workout instead of the end of it, so I'm now waking up at the same time as the rest of my family. It feels really indulgent to get up at the same time as everyone else, but hey, I will take it.
Monday: the week started with a thunderstorm and extreme downpour that made going outside a no-no. I kicked back with a cup of coffee and tried to talk myself into the treadmill. After a while the storm lifted and the forecast said it would be clear for the next hour, so I made my move and was out the door for 4.25 miles. The forecast was lying in its teeth and once I gotten out the door I made the poor life decision to keep going for my planned distance. By the end there were places where the water was up to my ankles. So look it really wasn't safe to be out and a smart runner would have either treadmilled it or skipped it, but in a perverse way I really enjoyed this run. And I was also glad that I wore my "easy day" shoes because it took the rest of the week for them to dry out.
Tuesday: was warm and sticky, so I took it on the easy side with a 6.25 mile jaunt around the town. I shamelessly took breaks as needed.
Wednesday: rest day;-)
Thursday: 6.25 miles in a bizarre pea souper. Monday's rain storm washed out the trail in the park near my house, so the purpose of this run was going to the trail where I do speedwork to see how it held up. Since this park is uphill from my house everything was intact.
Friday: a pre-work long run of 11 miles! By rights it should have been 10 since the plan was to increase my distance by a mile each week up to 12 miles but oops I miscounted somewhere so I was a week short in my plan. Right off the bat my head was just not in the right place, so I told myself that I didn't have to do the full distance if I didn't want to. 3 miles went by, then 5, then 7, this was really happening. But then I started struggling. Humidity wise things were pretty thicc but I think it was more mental than physical. When I got to the point where I really wanted to quit, I switched to 4:1 run/walk and that got me back in business and didn't slow me down very much. I got back to my neighborhood at 10 miles and told myself that really, it was OK to stop and my head said "uh uh, no way we're quitting 1 mile before the end" and ta da, I made my planned 11 miles. And I am as pleased as punch with my pace. In spite of the struggles, this was very much an "I GET to do this" effort.
Saturday: I just wanted some easy miles to close out the week, so I got them. 4.25 miles.
Sunday: firmly planted on the couch.
My thoughts on Half Marathon Long Runs
As a novice half marathoner, one topic that I think a lot about is How Long Does a Half Marathon Long Run need to be. Here's what experience has taught me:
- For half marathon #1, I alternated 10 and 12 milers for a few months before race day. I can't say how well that approach worked since it I did my training in mostly 30 degree weather and race day turned out to be 85 degrees, so I would have gotten the same result if I hadn't trained at all. The downside is that I'm a slower runner, so 12 miles is one heck of a long time to be on my feet. I was pretty tired by race day.
- For half marathon #2, which was this time last year, I just couldn't get it together with my training to run long distances. In retrospect, that's going to be true for any early fall race, since summer running isn't my thing. I ran that race on one 10 miler and a bunch of 8 milers and the race went unexpectedly well. My takeaway is that an 8 mile long run is acceptable for a half, though probably not ideal.
- For half marathons #3 and #4 I capped my long runs at 10 miles and I felt that this was adequate. The only thing I feel that I did "wrong" for half marathon #4 is that I skipped two long runs leading up to race day to run a 5k and a 10k instead and I feel that tanked my endurance a little bit (but hey it was March 2020 and The Rambling Runner Virtual Race series was a welcome distraction).
All of which is to say that I'm not sure if I'm going to go for 12 miles next week or do something shorter since it's the last long run before the race and I really don't think it matters either way. This week's 11 miler was definitely a confidence booster, so there is that. Also, the swag bag for the race came this week, and I have it stashed away. I'm not going to open it until I run the race, and I feel very much like a kid with a present under the Christmas tree.
What's your opinion/experience with the ideal long run distance to train for a half?