If anyone starts singing that Bon Jovi, “Living on a Prayer” song I will smack you.
We are exactly nine weeks away from the NYC Marathon or 66 days, 19 hours 22 minutes, and 14 seconds. Oh wait, 13 seconds, or 12…ok you get it there is a countdown clock on the New York Road Runners site that is not stress inducing at all.
I am always amazed at how quickly time flies when you are finally training for this thing. It seemed like the weeks were dragging on forever when you are picking out your training plan and start adding it to your calendars that sync with your desktop, iPhone, and iPad. I think I started that at the end of May. I know that’s early but I am a nerd and slight over achiever. I like planning. Now I’m amazed that we’re halfway through the training plan and summer is almost over.
But…the halfway point also means that things get real now. Most of training for New York are now in the meat of our training plans. The mileage is getting high and we’ll be planning a couple 20 mile long runs soon and actually look forward to the weekend when we only have an 18 mile long run. Runners, we are a weird lot.
During marathon training I believe that we are guaranteed to have at least one bad long run per training cycle — sometimes two. If you have a lot more than that you need to rethink some things about your training and maybe even running the marathon altogether.
I had, what I am hoping is my one bad long run this past weekend. I was supposed to run 15 miles. I had grand plans of starting uptown on the Hudson Greenway and heading downtown and maybe over to the greenway along the East River for a bit if I didn’t feel like running back uptown on the west side. Well, I got off to a later start than planned and then I forgot my hat. My hat is essential because I seat a lot and it keeps the sun off my face. I bought a hat because it was easier than going home and started out but just could not get into a good rhythm. I felt as though I was constantly having to start and stop, well that’s because I was. Tourists, please go home.
It took me much longer to complete the 15 miles but they are now in the log book and my memory bank. Even though it may have been a crappy long run it does have it’s benefit. First, the miles are now in my system. Most coaches will tell you that pace doesn’t matter on a long run the distance is the most important thing. Check that one in my favor. Second, this is where you train your mind to persevere. Your brain wants you to go into self-preservation mode especially after mile 20 of a marathon. Knowing that fought through these tough long runs gives you that confidence boost that you can also do it on race day. Trust me, whether your are a beginner or veteran this helps.
Thankfully, this is a step down week for me with an 11 mile long run on Sunday. I like to think that Hal Higdon, the guru who’s plan I am using knows exactly when I need not just a little physical break but a mental one as well. These step down weeks are vital in letting your muscles heal a bit but also to give your mind a chance to ease up as well. There is very little thought process going on during those week’s runs. They are easy, for the most part, and not stressful. Unless you think about the next nine weeks!