Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

I've noticed in talking to friends, we all seems to really enjoy a different aspect of training.  I know people who absolutely love speedwork, whether it be hills or intervals or tempos.  I am not one of those people.  With Adam's help, I'm doing speedwork, but I still do not like it.  Some people like the short and easy days because it's an opportunity to run just enough to get the runner's high without getting exhausted.  A year ago, I liked the mid-length runs - long enough to keep you confident, but not so long that your body felt in shambles.  But as I've run more and more, I've found that my true love is the long run.

For me, the long run is where it all comes together.  It's where you put your training to the endurance test.  No matter how hard a long run is, I always walk away feeling accomplished.  It's the run where I feel the biggest step towards my race goal.  To me, it's the most important day of the week, and while I might complain during about aches, pains, heat, wind, cold, obstacles, etc... every single time I get the miles, I feel one thing - VICTORY!  (Yes, I wore my "Run Naked" shirt on yesterday's long run because I started in the pitch black... the words are reflective.)

A few tips on enjoying your long run -
- Be prepared - make sure you have enough water, nutrition, sunblock, anti-chafe cream, etc.
- Consider loops - sometimes long runs can go a little more smoothly if you split it into smaller loops.  This allows you a small break to refill your water, grab additional nutrition, wipe your sweat, pull a rock out of your shoe, whatever.  Also if you had a concerning pain, you're a lot closer to your vehicle in a loop situation.  This also allows you to bring in some buddies that perhaps aren't going as far as you.
- Make it a dress rehearsal - Try to do things that you would do on race day.  Eat the same breakfast, follow the same routine, take your nutrition at the same intervals, wear your race belt, practice with whatever supplies you intend to carry.  This also means that you should get the right sleep and nutrition beforehand, just like you would before a race.
- Remember that it's not race day - Yes, I just said it was a dress rehearsal, but that's it... you don't have to get through it at race speed (in fact you shouldn't be doing it at race pace).  If you need to use the restroom or make an extra stop or take an unplanned walk break for whatever reason, then do it.  The point of the long run is to increase endurance but at a pace that won't break down your body too much before the race.  This is not the time to aim for a new record.
- It's ok for it to be hard - I have people tell me all the time how he/she "got through" the miles but it was "so hard".  Hint:  you are stretching your endurance to new levels, it's supposed to be hard.  Some days might be better than others, but do not be discouraged if your long run turned into a struggle. 
- Celebrate the victory - It's all about the miles... celebrate your accomplishment!  Enjoy your victory over the distance... every. single. time.

Yesterday I had 16 on the schedule... but my friends had 18, so of course, I was "in".  Besides, the lake is just over 9 miles around, so it makes more sense to go 18.  I felt strong and made it through two loops - 18.4 miles.  Then I took a 2 mile walk.  I always hem and haw over starting the walk because I just want to get home after, but I always recover so so so much better if I walk after a long run (thanks Robin D for making me walk).  I logged 20.4 miles yesterday and don't feel sore at all today.  Awesome!  Love the long run boost of confidence!

What's your favorite training run?  Short?  Tempo?  Intervals?  Long?
Also be sure to check out my guest blog post on Stephanie's Running to Health.  I wrote about why I think having a coach can be helpful from the perspective of an average runner - not an elite, professional, or even someone aiming for a bunch of age group wins.  Enjoy!!!