2011-06-03

How Do You Know It's Time to Run Further?

Today's scheduled long run is a 60-70 minute excursion. Last week's long run was, of course, a 60-minute run. Today, I'm giving you the option of running for an hour again, or increasing the length of your long run. But how will you know you're ready for an increase? There are a few ways.

First, and most obviously, if you are extremely tired today, now is no time to increase your long run. I would not recommend taking a rest day, however, since tomorrow is our scheduled rest day. You'll benefit both physically and psychologically by pushing through to the end of the week. That being said, there's certainly no need to increase the distance of your long run if you're pooched.

Second, I have scheduled more steadfast long-run (and basic run) increases over the course of the program. This is not to be rigid, but rather to emphasize that we have undertaken to run a marathon here. You have to get more than just your feet wet. At a certain point, you have to fearlessly dive-in. Don't be scared.

I remember the first sixteen-mile run I ever went on. This was my first experience with distances in the double-digits of miles. I didn't really know what to expect. It was a warm Sunday morning, and I set off from my parents' house. It was four miles to the mouth of a beautiful canyon, and then another four to the beautiful Bridal Veil Falls.

 Bridal_Veil_Falls_Provo_Utah.jpg

I didn't spend much time being scared, though, nor did I worry that I wouldn't finish. As I said, I didn't know what to expect. It's not in my nature to fear the unknown. I took it with an open mind. If you're not sure how to approach a long run, keep in mind that it will not necessarily be more difficult than a short run. Difficulty is more a function of speed and terrain than it is of distance. With good pace control and a comfortable gait, every distance is manageable, even distances greater than fifty kilometers!

If you're still a little worried, keep in mind that those of us who struggle with type 1 diabetes aren't sure whether we can finish marathon distances without going into insulin shock or diabetic ketoacidosis. It takes some experiementation. But if we never try, we never find out. There is no reason to be afraid. Failure, in this case, is not a bad thing. Simply undertaking a big run is a step over and above what the average person ever decides to do.

Third, you have to understand your own body. You have to know in the middle of your run whether your muscles, joints, and bones are ready for an extra ten minutes. Chances are, they'll be fine. There is a chance, though, that they're just not ready for it yet. Don't feel bad, and don't worry too much about it. Undertake a more modest distance and then try again next week. We're still only on Week #2 -- there is plenty of time to get to 26.2 miles yet.

Today, you'll be well-served to eat a lot of carbohydrates. If you're diabetic, make sure they are carbs with a low glycemic index to minimize the impact on your daily blood glucose levels. If you're not diabetic, go for the gold: pasta!