Saturday, August 17, 2013

My Typical Long Run Mediocrity

\me. di. oc. ri. ty\
Noun    1. The quality or state of being mediocre
              2. Moderate ability or value
              3. Jim's marathon pacing relative to the rest of his running and racing

Ho hum, another Saturday, another long run big expectation ... but another, "Eh, shoulda been better!"  Today, in preparation for a pancake flat marathon in Chicago in 8 weeks, I ran along the Little Blue Trace Trail in Independence, MO.  It's a very nice, well maintained dirt/gravel trail along the Little Blue River that literally has ZERO elevation change.  I should have torn it up.  There should still be a dust cloud because of the tornado my churning legs caused.  But there was nothing.  Nothing except for another rum-drum, a little above average workout.

Here's the problem ... while I understand that speed is completely relative to the individual, and a lot of folks would love to be able to do a marathon in 3:25 consistently ... I feel like I just put in way too much effort and training to keep hovering around that same pace.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very thankful for some of the things that being blessed with slightly above average speed has allowed me to do, namely running the Boston Marathon.  But like everyone else, I have speed goals that I want to accomplish at the marathon level that I'm not even close to.  Not even close!

This 21 mile workout today should have been easy at these speeds, but I had to work my but off to keep pace.  I intended to run 6 miles below a 7:00 pace at the end of the workout, but could only hold 4 miles at that speed.  Freaking 4 miles!!!

The good news is that I ran 18 last week with the last 9 miles at a 7:10 pace, so I'm probably just gonna chalk this up to a bad week.  I've learned that you're never quite as good as your best run, but not as bad as a bad run.  Plus, in full disclosure, this was one of the toughest training weeks I've had for this marathon cycle.  I completed my hardest leg strengthening workout in a while on Monday, followed by a good Speed Workout on Tuesday, and then a Tempo Run on hills on Thursday.  Speaking of the hills, to date, all of my runs have been on rolling hills, which I think is a little easier than a flat course.  The Little Blue Trace Trail doesn't have a single hill, which is a different type of running than I'm used to right now.  But that was really the point of the run today.  I try not to make excuses about workouts or races - but my legs were still pretty tight this morning when I started.  My conditioning felt great, so I know the Speed Work is paying off - but my stride just never felt fluent or smooth.  I fought it from the first step, just really tight.

The thing that is so frustrating is that I run fairly fast (for my age anyway) shorter races.  I can go to a lot of small to medium 5 or 10K's and win or place near the top of my age group on a fairly regular basis.  But I've only place 3rd once in my age group in a marathon.  And it was a super small marathon in Wyoming.  Most other times, I've just been mixed in.  I don't know 26.2 is a mental thing for me or what - but I just never seem to run as fast as I feel like I'm capable of.

I keep telling myself that with all of the Speed and Tempo work I do, I'm magically gonna cash in a 2:50 marathon some day ... but I just don't think it's in the cards friends.  That's okay, even if I never PR again in a marathon, I have a blast doing them.  Awe ... crap ... save that BS for someone else! YES - I desperately wanna PR again ... and I promise you I will!!!  But for now I gotta get these legs some rest before my next long run is another huge disappointment wrapped in my typical mediocrity!  (Sorry for the downer post ... just a little disappointed with my run) Oh, and ...
... be great today!


  1. Yeah, that 7:30 average pace really sucks. Lol. Seriously, I know what you are going through. I had all these ambitions to BQ and I just can't hit the paces. Ok, I don't run as much as you but I feel like I put work in and it should be achievable. If it were easy, no matter what pace, everyone would do it, right? So I continue through this training schedule with the thought I'm blessed to do this marathon distance for the fifth time and I enjoy it because, really, if its not fun, why do it.

  2. Even though my paces are MUCH slower than yours, I can certainly relate. I keep feeling like I should (as a new runner) be making consistent and notable progress, but I seemed to have stalled after about 5 months of training. Maybe it's mental with me too. Maybe I'm just not willing to put up with the mental anguish necessary to progress. Or maybe I just peaked at 5 months (ha!) Oh well, I'm working on adjusting my attitude and trying to obtain more satisfaction just from the fact that I am able to run rather than from the whole running fast thing. yeah... right.

  3. Don't get down - this is after a tough training week, speed workout, hills, tempo, leg workout, etc. All your hard training is aiming for a peak on marathon day, not yet. Imagine what you'll be like after a taper!

  4. Looks good to me. Don't race your long runs, as someone told me...I actually do very poorly on long runs, but I think the marathon is my best race! Yet every 20 miler kills me. It takes so much out of me, and I never do a non-stop long run. I always have to add 15 minutes of cushion time for water stops, shoe adjustments, and sheer laziness. So your long runs look really good to me!

  5. Full disclosure - it was one of the toughest training weeks that I've had for this marathon cycle.

    We're not machines and a tough week of running has to catch up somehow, some time. Yours caught up with you on your long run. Had you been running that on fresh legs it would have been a totally different blog post. We runners are so tough on ourselves with our expectations. Our bodies need time to make adaptations and that doesn't happen quicker just because we want it.

    But having said that I'm sure I'll be feeling the same after this afternoon's run. I ran 32k yesterday for the first time in 3 years and I'm tired but I'll still be disappointed if my body doesn't want to perform.

  6. Horrible! Horrible! Horrible! Look at those splits! You are never going to PR again running like that! Even I can run better than that!

    ....... I wish :)

  7. It's okay to be disappointed. We know what we want and it can be maddening to not accomplish it.Don't say never. You'll do it.

  8. I know what you mean about the flat course seeming harder than the hilly courses. At least on the hilly courses you can bank some time and recover on the downhills.

    I know you are disappointed, but this looks like a great training run. Think about how much faster you will be after a taper, eating right the week before, and the adrenaline of being at the race... Not to mention having short term goals during the race like "I going to pass that cocky-looking redhead guy."

  9. I feel ya... if I could only run a marathon anywhere near as fast as the McMillan calculator projects...


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