This marathon training plan we’ve gotten ourselves into is pretty brutal, if you ask me. Tempo runs and speedwork and strides and hills. Every week. And then there’s the long run on top of that. Ah, long runs. I love them. We did an 11-miler on Saturday, with the stroller. Micah pushed for the first 3 miles, then we dropped Manchild off for an activity at our church, and I pushed it for 3 miles. I planned to take it back for at least 2 1/2 more miles (because we are equal opportunity pushers), but I wasn’t posting very good mile splits with the stroller, so Micah took charge. And when I say “charge” I mean it. Our last 4 miles were done at a sub-8:00 pace. Did I mention he was pushing the stroller? Granted, it only had the smaller of our two children in it, but still.
Our brutal training plan told us to put a “fast finish” on this long run, and that’s what we were doing. The last 15 minutes of the run were supposed to be done at tempo pace (7:38 for me, faster for Micah). It just about killed me. Honestly. I was really struggling to keep up with my husband and small child as they sped through Park Slope, Gowanus, and into Carroll Gardens. We were just about done when Micah said, “Just halfway down this block.” I wanted to cry. Then he said, “Just kidding. We’re done,” and stopped. I checked the watch. Eleven miles exactly. We’d done the last at a 7:35 pace.
It felt really good to be done. It felt okay to have been struggling at the end. But it felt pretty awesome to have finished strong. Which brings me to today’s tip: don’t slow down at the end of the long runs. You don’t necessarily have to go faster at the end, just try to keep a consistent pace.
Long runs are the most important runs of training for a marathon. They strengthen your legs so they can actually handle running 26 miles. They increase your body’s efficiency. Running them steadily teaches your body to keep going when it is tired. It teaches your mind to be strong and focused when you feel like quitting. It teaches you to be consistent so that when you get to the end, you can finish strong, rather than simply crossing the line.