Monday, December 16, 2013

"Long" Runs I Want to Stab In The Face (NVM T Minus 11 Weeks)

On Sunday I ran 11 miles for my "long" run. I say "long" because mentally I tend to put 11 miles into that sort of medium-long bucket, long enough that I can't shoe-horn it in just anywhere, but not so long that it requires a lot of special planning and carrying gels and scheduled stops by the car for re-application of sunscreen and BodyGlide.

This got me thinking about how I categorize different distances; here's the break down, in case you're curious:

  • Less than 4 miles - micro-run (shake-out / recovery runs, illness / injury, etc.)
  • 4-6 miles - short but solid
  • 7-10 miles - hearty mid-length run
  • 11-14 miles - moderately long run
  • 15+ miles - proper long run

(Curious to hear if people have different opinions about this--I'd expect it, actually--& hear your reasoning.)

So it was a little disorienting and disheartening that those 11 miles--much like the 10 I ran last Sunday--felt really and truly long. I spent most of it watching tenths of miles tick off my watch at a rate that almost made treadmill running seem preferable. (Almost.) Nothing hurt, but my legs felt exhausted, and every time I looked at my watch I felt completely demoralized by the number of miles that were left. This wasn't one of those refreshing, reinvigorating, good-to-get-some-fresh-air-&-move-the-body type of runs. Nope; this one was all work. I did it because it was on the calendar and I was absolutely not interested in running a step further.

In part, I think this has to do with the whole running-in-December thing. It gets dark early, so if you start a long-ish run at three, it starts to feel sort of lonely & pathetic as you reach those last miles with the sun setting & everyone around you hurrying home. Plus, clothes are hard. Pre-run, a tank top seemed crazy & I was still uncomfortably chilly in longleeves; half an hour later I was uncomfortably hot & started back towards the car to change back into the tank; by the time I got there the sun was going down & I was so sweaty that even running, I was shivering again.

I also have to keep reminding myself that I've still only got four double-digit runs under my belt post-injury (with 11 miles in fact the second longest one). Right now, 11 miles is long for me. In general I'm incredibly happy with the progress I've made since I've been able to run again, but six months without a double digit run isn't nothing, and the endurance is not going to come back over night.

Lastly, this has been my highest post-injury mileage week, another thing I had to keep reminding myself every time I'd start to feel completely baffled about why my legs felt so beat up & that 11 miler felt so exhausting when I've "only" run 32 miles this week. Granted, in terms of marathon training, that isn't much, but it's still only the second time I've hit 30+ miles in six months.

If nothing else, I managed negative splits with a fairly constant level of effort, so for all that it was horrifically unpleasant mentally, I think I still have to put it in the win column.

* * *

Grand Total: 32 miles

    * 17 easy
    * 4 speed
    * 11 long


Karate + light strength.


6 track. 1.25 warm up, 4 x (1200m @ 5K pace / 3:00 jog), .75 cool down.


Karate + light strength.


6 easy. I don't know what happened to me Wednesday night, but I didn't sleep well & woke up Thursday morning feeling like I'd been hit by a freight train. Sinus congestion, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, body aches, name it. Instead of going to work I stayed home to sleep, but by the afternoon I felt good enough that I wanted to at least try getting my run in. It felt terrible at first but things gradually improved, and by the end I was feeling much better and glad that I'd decided to run. Also good because this was happening:

Unless you're a programmer, don't bother trying to get a normal reservation through the site. Just call or email to reserve the 8-person table & recruit friends as needed. :) (No other pictures; too busy eating / acting like a normal person.)


a.m. strength work / p.m. 6 easy + eat steak. Friday was a yet another chance to appreciate my quick recovery from whatever it was knocked me on my ass Thursday morning, as that evening was meeting #5 of SF Steak Club.

As you can see, 5A5 was just awful and no one should ever go there.


3 easy. Just an easy pre-long run day.

Ugh, thank GOD the cold snap passed & we're finally back to *normal* December-in-San-Francisco weather...

Also, time for a new pair of these (which, incidentally, might be the last ones I buy. More to come on that).


11 long; foam roll like the dickens.


  1. Oh, I LOVE the run categorization. Mine would be: under 3 miles - probably a transition run off the bike during tri training; 3-4 miles: normal morning run after one too many snoozes, 5-6 miles: solid, satisfying, I gave myself a full hour to run!; 7-9 miles: getting serious, probably not happening during the week; 10-13 miles: long enough that it better end in brunch; 14+ miles: seriously long run.

  2. Your categorization is pretty spot on. I also lump runs by gel usage. I won't gel unless I'm running at least 12. And then the runs are "long," although anything more than 15 is "Long." The motivation needed to actually start the run is proportionate to the mileage...

    And I hate winter training. Last spring, I was doing this modified Hanson's that had me logging 7-12 mile runs mid-week. As depressing as "finishing as the sun sets" is, getting home at 6p and forcing my mind to commit to running alone in the dark for 60-90 freezing, lonely minutes, while bracing for mythical assailants and black ice, makes me Sarah McLachlan sad for myself.

  3. Is that restaurant good? How much? Should I go?

    1. I've been twice now & I'm a big fan. The food is all amazing, & if you get a regular small table, it works like dim sum--people just come around with carts, & you can take as much or as little as you want. The first time I went it was with just one other person, & we got ourselves pleasantly full for less than $50 each, including wine, which for a high-end award-winning SF joint is a pretty darn good deal! At the big tables they do a pre fixe ($60 / person), so you just sit back while they bring you most of what's on the menu. They do save small tables for walk-ins; you just have to be prepared to go super early (like an hour before they open) & stand in line & either eat at 5:30 or put your name down for a later spot. (That's what we did the first time & it actually worked out well--I was working from home that day so I was able to go get in line at 4:30.) But yes, highly recommend, and not stupidly overpriced!

    2. LOVE State Bird! I've been three times and would totally go again. Any time you want to recruit me for your table of eight, just let me know!

  4. What's wrong with Newtons? I was going to ask if you recommended them, the colours were calling me. I shall await your review.

    My run categorisation would be:
    Less than 5 = either speedwork or a very easy run that I'm slightly ashamed of
    5 - 8 = good solid runs
    9 - 12 = long run.
    13 = race
    13 + = screwed up the tangents.

    I also love the 'ta-da' pose in that photo. You did it at Berkeley and it made me smile.

    1. Heh, it's become my new pose for everything!

      The 30 second story about the Newtons is that they're fine, but every pair I've had have worn out in ~250 miles. Plus, I also feel like a lot of what they're selling is a gimmick & I'm not willing to drink the cool-aid on that one. So between those two things, it's hard to justify the obscenely ridiculous pricetag.

  5. Nooooo on Newtons! Main reason I like them so far is that it reinforces if you are midfoot striking (since you should be landing directly on the lugs). No other shoe has this same setup as far as I know, so you really don't know if you are midfoot striking unless you have it really dialed in. Maybe now that I've been doing midfoot striking for a while I could do it without having the lugs? I did like the Kinvara, and the Virrata also sounded great. I also have a pair of the Brooks Pure Flow. Not sure what pair you are going to pick next, I'm curious.