Last Saturday, I ran 20 miles. It was the second week in a row I did that distance–normally I space 20s out with a shorter run in between, but scheduling in the coming month prevented that this time. Having two 20s so close together, I was able to easily compare and contrast what went right with one (the first) and what went wrong with the other (the second).
The first I did in a glycogen depleted state. I didn’t necessarily set out to do that, but thought I would give it a go just to see if I felt up to it. I brought a gel along for insurance purposes, but felt so good all the way throughout the run that I never felt the need to reach for it. The second 20 I intentionally brought along two gels to use. As I’ve pointed out before, I am alternating long runs with and without fuel so that I can keep my GI system tolerant of gels for race day.
You’d think that when you consider the fueling vs. non-fueling factors, the first run would have been the tougher of the two. But no, my friends, the opposite was true. And do you know what I’m sure it came down to? Pacing. When I do the glycogen depleted runs, I go out EASY. I’m afraid of what would happen if I didn’t. My body has always, and will always, prefer starting runs this way. I am a negative splitter if ever their was one.
On the second run, I got caught up running alongside some friends who weren’t going as far as me and who tend to start faster than me anyhow. It was a dumb move on my part. I didn’t fall apart completely, but I definitely didn’t finish the run with a bang. It was more like a whimper.
I hate finishing my long runs that way. For one, a long run like that takes far more out of me than when I finish feeling strong throughout and at the end. For two, it shakes my confidence a bit. I am going to do my best to prevent it from happening anymore. It may mean letting my friends go at the beginning of a run–not my favorite option, but if it makes the run a far more pleasant experience and leaves me feeling fresher, then so be it.
Are you good at keeping your pace easy when it should be? What are your tricks for accomplishing that?