I feel like every training cycle there’s that one especially crazy hard run – the one that feels way worse than all the others. The one that has you basically crawling the last couple miles. The one that makes you ask yourself: “why the hell am I doing this again?!”
You guys know I try to keep things positive over here because I’m a big believer in cultivating gratitude, and on trying to spread joy to others, even in a small way. But I also aim to keep it real, and, well, this morning I had that run. 18 miles and it was one of the hardest long runs I’ve ever done.
I’m trying to remind myself that I’m not a terrible runner nor will I be unprepared for the Marine Corps Marathon – it’s just that not every run can be an amazing one, especially when it’s as hot and humid out as it was this morning. I’m proud I pushed through and finished it because it was seriously not easy.
My friend Sokphal was up for doing a few really early miles with me, so we met up at 6 a.m. in the dark. It was one of those mornings that DC summers are known for – the humidity felt oppressive and the temperature was already high, even that early. The second I stepped out of my car I started sweating. Yikes – this was not going to be easy. Dark morning selfie for your viewing pleasure – yep, we’re already sweating just standing there:
Sokphal and I did about 5.5 miles together and the chatting helped keep me distracted from the fact that the running felt tough. I hadn’t been out running near the monuments this early in ages – they looked so pretty with the morning haze as the sun rose, although sadly we didn’t get a the beautiful sunrise we were hoping for thanks to low clouds.
By the time we got back to my car parked outside her place after 5.5 miles and said goodbye, I was seriously considering just bagging the long run entirely because I was already so hot and tired. But I knew I was already skipping my long run (or at least doing a MUCH shorter one) next week due to travel, so I pushed myself to keep going. I could do this, it just wasn’t going to be easy: 12.5 more solo miles to go. Yikes. You guys know I have a hard time running by myself to begin with (I’m very much a social runner), and doing so many miles in such hot weather by myself I knew was going to be a pretty serious challenge.
To get myself through this run, I did a couple things: first, I ran on the Mt. Vernon Trail so I’d have nice views to help distract me and lift my spirits. This trail isn’t all that shaded so I knew it would be hot once the sun was fully up, but I still went for it because I know pretty views always makes runs happier for me.
The other thing I did to make it through this run was a TON of breaks. I stopped every 1 to 2 miles to stretch and give myself a quick breather. This meant I was out there for ages, but it also was the only way I could convince myself to keep going because it broke up the run. I also did an out and back so I kept telling myself “Okay, only xx miles until I get to turn back.” That always helps, too. So did music – I listened to Pandora (“Wagon Wheel” fun country pop station) for the first 6 miles of my solo adventure and then listened to “Daring Greatly” on audible for my second 6 miles when I got tired of music.
By the time I was (finally) only a few miles away from finishing out the 18 the sun was fully up and super intense. It was so hot – and every time I stopped I had this super annoying black fly that bit my legs (unclear if it was the same fly following me for the journey or whether they were everywhere – but it was not cool). I wanted to quit and stop so badly but I kept taking short breaks and just telling myself I only had a little longer to go before I could take another break. Maybe it’s a good thing the fly attacked me when I stopped – made me not stop for good! Perhaps he was encouraging me… 🙂
And then, finally – my watch hit 18. Hallelujah. When I was actually running, I averaged an overall pace of 9:41 for just under 3 hours total – but I was out there for nearly 4 hours thanks to a billion untimed breaks. I was lucky I had the flexibility this morning to start my workday a bit later because I don’t think I could have finished any faster.
I was so excited to get back to the car and drink a ton of water – I ran out of water (I had nearly 2 liters in my hydration vest but finished it) around mile 16 and was SO THIRSTY by the time I finished thanks to the beating sun. Fall – I’m begging you to please make your debut. We need you!!
In terms of fuel, I did my usual combo of margarita shot bloks (2) and nut butter stuffed salty dates (4). I wore my compression sleeves again, too, so my leg didn’t bother me which was nice, although everything was basically aching after being out there for so long. Also worth mentioning: no more ibuprofen before running for me – thanks for the heads up guys! See this article for why: What Runners Should Know About Pain Medications.
I raced home (no time for an ice bath, but I’m hoping to take an epsom salt bath tonight) and ate a quick meal before getting my workday started. On the menu: some leftover salmon brown rice cakes (recipe coming soon) with two fried eggs, avocado, wilted spinach, and salsa. Plus a homemade mocha – espresso from our Nespresso machine + whole milk + some chocolate Organic Fuel (love that stuff – they sent me some more samples recently but we buy it often too).
Zara kept me company/kept an eye on me while I ate. 🙂 She always needs to be nearby and see what I’m up to! Too funny. Also, I’m so behind on my magazine/newspaper reading – I’ve amassed quite the pile!
After refueling it was on to the workday! I had some calls this morning and now I’m working from a coffee shop in between AnneTheRD in person client sessions.
In exciting news, the reason I had to get in my long run early again (and why I’m likely just doing a series of shorter/regular distance runs next week vs. a long run, because I think getting in a long run would add more stress than it would give me training benefit) is because Matt and I leave for HAWAII tomorrow morning!! I know, we’ve been doing a LOT of travel this year but we figure there’s no point in him accruing vacation time if we don’t use it. 🙂 This is a part play part work trip for me – I’m doing a couple nutrition presentations/talks next weekend at a wellness event our hotel in Maui is hosting. They actually invited me out for the event last year (they found me via my AnneTheRD website) but we weren’t able to get the time away, so we’ve had this trip on the calendar for over a year – so excited it’s finally here! I’m doing one presentation on Nutrition for Runners and one on How to Get Rid of Sugar Cravings + building balanced, satisfying meals that are fast (like How to Make a Quick & Healthy Weeknight Dinner). I have a bunch of nutrition tip/recipe handouts created to hand out at the events and I’ll also be sharing samples of my Homemade Citrus Sport Drink at the Nutrition for Runners session. Should be fun! I always get nervous for presentations but hopefully I’m prepared. 🙂
The first part of the week will be dedicated to fun adventures, though, before I need to get my work on – so if you have any tips for things to do in Maui, we’d love to hear them! We’ve never been to Hawaii before and are looking forward to hopefully doing a scuba dive while there (any tips on the best one? we’re both certified divers), doing some runs and hikes, going surfing, and relaxing of course! I’ll be sharing pictures on Instagram as usual if you want to see what we’re up to before I post the trip recaps. And stay tuned because I will still be blogging next week, too – I have posts scheduled/pre-written for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and will pop in later on in the week with a Hawaii snapshot as well.
Time to finish out the workday and pack up for the trip. Have a great weekend, my friends!
What’s the hardest run you’ve ever done? The LA Marathon is pretty high up there on my list of super challenging runs, although I did a better job in that race staying positive than I did this morning. Clearly hot weather is my kryptonite though – I’d always take freezing running over really hot running. Fingers crossed for good/cold weather for Marine Corps Marathon!
Faves from around the web:
- Eat: 23 High Fiber Lunches That Will Keep You Full Til Dinner // 6 Recipe Steps You Can Skip // Vegan Cornbread Panzanella // Spiralized Vegetable Polenta Lasagna
- Read: Intuitive Eating Before & After (spotlight on one of our June Joyful Eating, Nourished Life program participants!) // Single Tasking: The Secret to Less Stress + More Productivity // Stop Touting the Crazy Hours You Work – It Helps No One (amen) // Five Reasons You’re Not Addicted to Sugar
- Please note there are affiliate links in this post.