Let’s be honest: we all know it’s not ALL about the long run but we as runners tend to hold them in such high regard that reality gets clouded.
I get it: it’s a lot of time, a lot of effort and tiring to do our long runs. So when they suck it’s easy to get discouraged. Also doesn’t help with my parent guilt (whole other topic HERE) Plus if you tend to share your runs on Strava or social media you can fall into the trap of comparing others to your own. I can tell you not to do that all day long but it’s human nature to compare. Doesn't make it right but I can understand it and be guilty of it myself.
My long this week was ok miles wise but I didn’t feel into it at all. My legs were heavy, I thought I was gunna get sick when I was done, then proceeded to actually get sick when I got home. That hasn’t happened to me in ALL the years I have been running. I felt not only physically defeated but mentally I just kept repeating “What in the actually &@*#”. I had tried a few new things on the run and was being hard on myself about what I could have done differently.
BUT...This is exactly why coaches preach practice: practice fueling early, figure out what works, figure out a game plan NOW so race day you aren’t still figuring it out.
I tried my new hydration vest and while it was comfortable, even though I definitely overshot my water intake. Between that and not having enough pre run fuel I bonked and bonked HARD. My body needs are different than when I trained for my half marathon in 2019 and I'm having to also relearn after having COVID. Luckily after a quick cat nap and moving about my normal day I felt better but it reminded me quickly how much that practice means.
I look forward to my long run more than most of my runs because I do enjoy the chunk of time to push my distance, listen to my music or podcasts and just be able to run. It‘s when I find I have to be the most disciplined in taking the time for myself which is definitely the proverbial Achilles heel of my life (another post for another day)
But I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t utterly pissed and ready to throw in the towel. I wasn’t happy with my pace and immediately had the racing thoughts of what did I get myself into deciding to do a marathon. My coaching brain told me I was being irrational but my runner brain just took that ship and sailed off to crazy thought town with no pit stops. (Which is exactly why I don’t coach myself--Shout out to Coach Hiruni!)
I know both from a coaching standpoint as well as just a general runner stand point I’m not out alone and so many runners have this. So why was I being so hard on myself? What would I tell my athletes? Most importantly how do you move on from long run disappointment?
Accept that it happens and it doesn’t mean you’ll suck that the race----EVERYONE has long runs that just don't come together. It doesn't mean that you made a bad decision to run, race or try a new distance. It means you just had a crappy long run on this specific day.
Make a list of what you think contributed to it. Look over your days/hours before, how you fueled, how often and anything that you think you did different. Don't be critical--Think of it as data entry and analyzing. You are just one big science experiment that you are having to figure out.
Give ALL the info to your coach. Even if you think it could not have contributed still tell your coach everything, you never know what could be even a small part of the puzzle that caused you to bomb.
Don’t try to re-run it. SO many runners think that they can just re-run it and it’ll make a difference. Stick to your training plan and move forward—-if you try to “re-do” bad runs all it will cause is overtraining and more bonking. Your body will not just snap into it and say “oh, we are redoing this, I’ll just forget that 8 miles that sucked yesterday”. Once you run a run, it's done. There isn't a magic re-do button until the next long run--THATS when you get your next shot.
Keep the faith it's part of building speed, fitness and mental toughness. Just lace up the next running day and restart.
If none of the above work, I am going to share my surefire way that helps me get over he long run disappointment----Remember WHY you started, WHERE you started and every obstacle you have overcome in your running life.
I can almost guarantee that it'll be hard not to be at least a little proud of yourself.