Surviving the Long Run


Chi26.2 Week 15 / NYC26.2 Week 12 / Nap26.2 Week 11 (Aug 17th, 2014)



Hi Jack’s Team Runners – once again great training weather this week.

I hope you enjoyed the shorter Long Run this weekend and your body is telling you that you could have done more.

If so, that is perfect as now, for most of you, we push the endurance distance even greater with 18 – 20 mile runs over the next six to eight weeks.


Rest and recovery will become very important to your training.


Here is an interesting article I found this weekend:


Single Best Way to Recover Faster from Workouts


I also encourage you to continue stretching and paying attention to signs of muscle fatigue and tightness in order to avoid injury – especially as we continue to add miles.

I provide a link below to an online article on the 7 most common runner injuries, whether you can run through it and suggested exercises for strengthening or to help prevent such injuries.


HEALTH:  Big 7 body breakdowns


Please review this and let me know if you would like additional details.  I can provide additional resources.


Also … Let me know what if there are any issues you are struggling with.


My next marathon, the Fox Valley Marathon in St. Charles IL is in 5 weeks so I am deep into the Sharpening Phase of my training which you Chicago runners have begun and New York runners are about to start.

I completed my second 20 mile Long Run this Saturday.

Why am I telling you this?  

I hope you will know that I know what you are going through or about to experience.

So I thought I’d share with you things what I do to overcome the MENTAL game – the inner self telling you “you can’t do this” – the inner voice telling you to “Quit”.

I wondered if I should title this section “Surviving the Long Run”.


First – Find someone to run with, either a running group or a friend. Running alone for three plus hours is a huge challenge and likely boring unless you are on some amazingly beautiful trail by the sea, in a forest or prairie (the exception being those introverts that don’t have an issue with running alone). For me my favorite music can’t keep my mind off the pain after 16 -18 miles (actually I don’t run with music for that reason). What works best for me is to talk with someone else, even if they are on a bike. They don’t have to be a long distance runner like you. Have your friend join you mid-run or for the last 4-6 miles of your Long Run when you are feeling fatigued. Best is to find someone with the same running goal as you. You can motivate each other. I help pace a 9:30 min/mile group on Saturdays with about 8 – 20 runners depending on who all shows – and this really helps me to shut down the inner “quitter” voice. Sharing stories and helping to motivate someone else – to hang in there, will take your mind off your struggle, and, wow – how the time flies by!


I will touch on this again when we discuss Race Day Strategy – I will encourage you to seek out someone to talk to during your own Marathon Race even if it is a total stranger; my most memorable marathon experiences have involved running with total strangers that I have met from around the world – you just have to be willing to break the ice.


If music is your thing, especially when you get tired, then hold this in reserve. Run the first 14-16 mile without music and use it to bring you in. Select tunes that motivate you but please remember – keep the volume down so that you can also hear traffic, bikers or other runners calling attention to their presence.


Second – own the message in your mind and win the battle.   Assemble a “Tool Box” of metal or other strategies that help you overcome mid run issues. Spend time to reflect on and remember the things that have helped you overcome a struggle, you can draw on them in the future when the need arises.


Instead of “I think I can” believe in yourself and your training and tell yourself “I know I can”.


Some examples:

  • Late in a long run you will most certainly get tired and you may have the tendency to lose your running form, which in turn can cause muscle tightness, soreness etc., and this triggers your inner voice to say “quit”. Strategy – focus your mind on proper runner form: relax your shoulders, shake out your arms and message your cheeks, engage your core and ensure your stride is correct. Pretend you are being lifted off the ground like a marionette. This can eliminate the pain all together or bring it into a manageable level. If you ever experience out of the normal bone or muscle pain then slow down walk for a while – stretch if you have to, then kick back into your run with a slow jog.


  • It’s hot and humid – you are tired and here comes that darn hill – your inner voice says “no way – you can’t do it”. Win the battle! Don’t focus on how long the hill is or how steep – keep your eyes focused down about 20-30 ft in front of you and maintain a constant effort not speed. Your body will slow naturally; focus on maintaining the same breathing rate – this will slow your pace. This is a great strategy for hills late in a run – there is no need to spend all the fuel in your tank to get over the hill. Focus back to what you have felt before and remember that you have overcome it before. Focus your mind to remember the great feeling of the downhill or the plateau that is soon to come. Own the message in your mind.


  • It’s hot and humid and you are feeling sluggish – carry a small face cloth with you (tied to your belt) and soak with cold water from a water fountain, or tap in a bathroom. Wash your face, neck and shoulders. This can help to reinvigorate you. Sponges are often provided at one or two locations late on the marathon course – see if this works for you. The water doesn’t have to be ice cold to be effective – if it works put this in your Tool Box.


  • It’s a cool day but your legs are tired and you are feeling sluggish on your run – try the following strategy to stamp out the inner voice telling you to quit: speed up your pace for 15-20 seconds at your Tempo pace and then relax and return to your normal conversational pace. This can help to engage your Fast twitch muscles to help out in the effort, repeating this every mile or so may help kick out the fatigue.  This is something that works for me.


  • A stitch develops in your side, you feel uncomfortable running and or your breathing becomes winded – do not panic and don’t listen to the quitter voice inside. Know there is a reason the stitch is there – it was caused by a number of things including running form, dehydration, lack of nutrition, running too fast, etc. and it may be compounded by the heat and humidity. This will occur to everyone once in a while. Develop your strategy to work through this – go through a routine in your mind: slow your pace down, focus on your form and relax (see above), breath in slowly and deeply and walk if needed until you regain your strength and the stitch subsides. Self-message and/or pressure at the stitch may help. Focus on overcoming this during a long run! By doing so it will prepare you if it occurs on race day – consider it another tool to put into your Tool Box and this builds self-confidence and will make you a stronger runner.


Third – break down the distance you have left on the Long Run into small segments. Don’t tell yourself – Oh my God I have 6 more miles of this to do!   Instead tell yourself only two 5K’s.   Relate everything to the number of your favorite loops around your neighborhood or the park near your house. Focus on the effort to complete 2 miles to the next water stop instead of 4 miles to finish.

As an alternative strategy to – distance remaining – think in terms of time – you have just run for 3 hours completing 16 to 18 miles – What’s another 10 or 20 min? Nothing! You know you can do it!


Let’s review the training plans for this week according to each target marathon:


Chicago Week 15 Training Plan – ONLY 8 WEEKS TO GO!!

Plan Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Total
Novice 3 – 4 6 R or XT 6 Rest 18 REST 33 – 34
Beginner 3 7 – 8 ^ R or XT 5 – 6 Rest 18 REST 33 – 35
Intermediate 4 8 ^^ R or XT 8 Rest 20 REST 40


NYC Week 12 Training Plan – HALF WAY TO RACE DAY!

Plan Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Total
Novice 4 5 R or XT 6 Rest 14 R or XT 29
Beginner 4 6 ^ R or XT 6 Rest 15 – 16 R or XT 31 – 32
Intermediate 4 8 ^^ R or XT 7 – 8 Rest 16 R or XT 35 – 36



Plan Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Total
Novice 4 6 R or XT 5 Rest 10 R or XT 25
Beginner 4 6 ^ R or XT 6 Rest 10 R or XT 26
Intermediate 4 8 ^^ R or XT 7 – 8 Rest 12 R or XT 31 – 32

Note: R or XT refers to a Rest day or Cross-Train for ~30 minutes. This involves Yoga, swimming, weights, cycling, stretching etc.

^, ^^ speed/hill work as given in detail below.



CHICAGO TEAM MEMBERS - Are you ready for your biggest week so far!

Monday should be a slow recovery run.


Beginner and Intermediate runners your Tuesday run is a flex day with either a TEMPO or Hill workout. As covered in my previous update a Tempo run is to build stamina at your marathon goal pace. Hill work helps to build leg strength and running stamina. Depending on your effort level hill work can be harder to do.


If you choose to do another tempo run do as you have over the past few weeks break the total mileage into 3 parts: a 1-2 mile warm-up, then ~ 4 miles at TEMPO pace and then 1-2 miles cool down. Your Tempo pace is typically 15-20 seconds faster per mile than your marathon goal pace.


Alternatively, find a running route that has one are more hills along the route and integrate Hill work into your Tuesday run. This engages your fast twitch muscle fibers, improves power in your legs and works on your leg turnover. As with any workout run 1-2 miles as a warm-up before “Sprinting” the hill at roughly 85-90% of your max effort.


What does that mean if you have never done a hill workout before?


Obviously the % grade and length of the hill can vary greatly. A long 0.25 – 0.5 mile hill at 3-4 % grade will require a longer sprint to overcome than a short 0.10 – 0.25 mile hill at 7-8% grade and the effort depends on your speed.  The effort you put in has to be adjusted to match the duration of the sprint up the hill.


If you have never done hill work before don’t worry about sprinting until you get the hang of it. You want to be capable of completing 4-5 repeats at an identical effort level with a 1-2 minute rest between each hill repeat (this rest period is typically a walk or very slow jog for 1-2 min or longer!). When you get to the top of the hill you should be winded but not gasping for air. Over time you can increase your speed up the hill with each successive workout. Also you will want to slowly build up over time the ability to complete as many as 8-10 repeats on a short hill or possibly 4-6 repeats for a long hill. After completing the hill work you should cool down by running or walking 1 mile (or longer).


My hill work routine (~8 miles) involves a combination of slow running and hill sprints. I typically warm up at my comfortable easy pace (9:30 min/mi) for 1 mile. Then I run up a hill that is about 0.25 miles long and quite steep. When I get to the top I am winded and I walk for about 30 sec to 1 min then jog slowly downhill and run 0.5 miles on a flat road to the base of the hill and repeat the 0.8 mile loop 6-7 times. Every 2 or 3 loops (~1.6 -2.4 miles) I stop and rest for 2-3 mine and consume water or Gatorade. I complete the workout with a slow 1 mile cool down run.


I believe Hill work is essential to improve your running endurance – but you have to do it sensibly. Running up and down hills too fast will increase your risk of injury to your hamstrings and quadriceps. Be very careful on the downhill – remember not to over stride – in fact shorten your stride and pick up your cadence to avoid over-stressing your quads. Below are some links to online articles to help with introducing hill work into your run.


Good luck completing your first 18 mile Long Run this week!!!


Online articles concerning Hill Workouts:




Mastering Hills


Spring Training Programs for Novice Runners



Please if you have any questions send me an email.


NYC TEAM MEMBERS – you are half way through your training – this week you have another 14 to 16 mile long run – piece of cake right !

Beginner and Intermediate NYC runners – like last week you can incorporate a few miles at your Marathon Goal Pace (30-45 seconds faster than your easy pace) into your Tuesday run to improve your stamina at this pace. Remember to break-up your Tuesday run as follows depending on your target total miles:


Total Run Distance Warm up Distance MPG Distance Cool Down Distance
6 1 3-4 1-2
8 2 4-5 1-2



NAPERVILLE TEAM MEMBERS – enjoy your long run cut back week. Remember, try not to be an over-achiever. Cut back weeks are important to allow your body to recharge and repair the many stresses you have put on it over the past few weeks. This includes micro-stresses/fractures to your bones.


If you are feeling energized consider a good cross-training workout instead of running extra miles.   Spend time doing a focused core workout (search online or pick up a DVD at your local library), do yoga, ride your bike for 30-45 min or swim. Most important, allow your body to get ready for the next stress-load-recover cycle that you are about to encounter as we build your endurance miles.


Happy Running All!



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