The Long and Short of It

Today’s workout was my “Sunday Long Run,” although shorter than normal.  This is a “recovery” week, meaning I back off of both distance and intensity in all activities to allow some extended recovery time.  Even when I’m not actively training for an event, I start to look forward to recovery weeks.  They represent mini vacations in what can become a training grind, so I want to enjoy them when they happen.

My normal long run mileage is up to 12 miles each Sunday, gradually building in preparation for the Soaring Wings Half Marathon at the end of October.  There are a number of different philosophies about how long one’s longest run should be prior to a distance race.  Some advocate running the entire distance at least once, others say getting to 2/3 or 3/4 the distance in practice is good enough… adrenaline will carry you through the rest of the way.  Perhaps it’s insecurity, the need to over-engineer things, or my approach to triathlon, but for distances up to a half marathon, I always like to make my longest training run longer than the race itself by a couple of miles.  In triathlon, there’s another leg coming after the first two, and the run usually finishes just as the tank reads empty.  I always like to think I’ve got just a little bit extra left in the tank when I start the run.  That way, if the course is harder than expected or I need to pass someone right at the end, I’ve got something left.

Today was a great example of that principle in practice.  While 7 miles should have been relatively easy when my past runs were 10, 11, and 12, this morning was brutal.  It was already 80+ degrees at 7:30 when I hit the road, with 95% humidity.  I don’t carry a water bottle for anything less than 10 miles, so I intentionally took things a little more slowly to “conserve sweat.”  While I’m sure it helped, there was no conserving sweat after the first mile.  I normally pour the remains of my water bottle over my head as I approach the last water fountain along the river trail (assuming the fountains are working), which means I finish the run drenched.  No water bottle today, but I was as drenched as if I’d doused myself anyway.  That’s the tough thing about training for distance events in Arkansas… spring races mean training through sleet and ice in the winter, while fall races mean doing your long runs in the brutal heat of the summer.  Better than some places, worse than others.

So I’m looking forward to a few easier workouts this week, and trying to keep some rhythm despite a hectic schedule at work.  That, plus the continued Total Immersion Swimming practice.  The next few lessons reintroduce breathing.  Breathing is good.  Always.

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