Long Slow Run – Three words, all important.

The past couple of weeks my long runs have been in a bit of a ‘funk’, they’re just steady, minimal effort time-on-feet workouts. I was starting to get a little bit nervous about the speed I was doing (9:30min/mile) and if this would be good enough to get me over the Marathon distance in under 4hrs, for which I have to average below 9:09min/mile. So this week I decided to do something different on my long run, which has made me appreciate more that in the phrase ‘Long slow run’, all 3 of the words are equally important.

Long Fast RunAs you can see from the run above, I set out to do a 7mile there-and-back route for my long run, which was mistake number 1. Actually, it wouldn’t have been a mistake other than it was compounded by the idea that I wanted to do it with some effort this week. On Saturday, my friend Gary, who I’m running the marathon with did his long run of 12miles at 8:30min/miles. Gary is the one who first bullied me into signing up for the marathon, or to be precise, he twisted my arm gently and I agreed pretty quickly. This inspired me to want to go out and see if I could do the same. Sadly, I forgot Gary lives on the sea front, so did a 12mile run with around 280ft of elevation total throughout. The route I picked, had 3 times as much total elevation, including some pretty long steady climbs, and a couple of very short but very steep routes. Oh, and I also got lost on the way back, which is why there’s a weird loop on the map rather than a nice line going straight out and straight back.

I did manage it, but yesterday wasn’t a fun rest day as my calves, glutes and thighs were all sore from the effort of foolishly sticking to 8:30min/mile pace. I did manage it, but it hurt, both at the time, and afterwards. I’m not stupid enough to think that 8:30min/mile is achievable for the marathon just yet, doing it in under 4hrs is still the goal, and I need to base my training around that, including making my weekend runs longer and slower. Time on feet is the key, not the speed of a training run. You don’t get rewards from a training run.

I’ve managed to shake out most of the kinks from my legs with a nice steady 5mile run today. I even put my Vibram Fivefingers on for the blast, which is the furthest I’ve ever run in them. I’m now suffering from a pretty sore blister, caused by a little debris which I think crept in my shoe before I put them on and rubbed on the ball of my left foot. It was still a good run, and I managed to get some nice intervals and speed work in (I really don’t enjoy speed work!). I even manage to set a couple of segment records on Strava.

My KSO's

 

I still loved the run, even with the blisters, the weather currently is perfect for me, as I get very warm very quick, and running as the sun goes down is nice.

 

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So, I may be a heel striker

So I had a look at the bottom of my running shoes yesterday for any wear and tear (Incidentally, the needlework my mum did last week is still holding strong after nearly 20 more miles in the shoes), and spotted a very interesting pattern of wear on the heels.

Heels of my shoes

Heels of my shoes

If you look a the outside edges of both heels (more noticeable on the left foot – the upper of the 2 in the picture), you can see that the thing green rubber is wearing through and exposing the EVA cushioning below, which won’t be as robust over time.

Now I don’t think I heel strike when running, in fact when I think about my running form I’m mostly happy with it as it feels mostly like I’m landing my whole foot at the same time. Only very occasionally near the end of a longer run or if I get distracted do I actually feel myself land heel first, and in these shoes, I definitely do feel it. The wear on my shoes suggests something completely different. Although it is only on that very outside part of the heel, the rest seems to be holding up well with minimal wear.

I think what’s happening is that I’m not landing on the heel exactly, but it’s not far off. I seem to be sliding the outside of my foot on the group just before the entire foot lands. That’s why I’m not feeling any massive impact, but the abrasive nature of the heel sliding over the ground is akin to me rubbing sandpaper across the bottom of the shoes.

I think I need to do more work on my running form. Get out for some shorter runs in my Fivefingers and really focus on how I’m landing before I completely wear through my heels!

On a plus note, had a successful run yesterday, did a 10k around the area I live in 47:53, that’s 5 mins quicker than I’ve done before, but it could have been quicker if I hadn’t had to avoid all the mothers and parents walking home from school (seriously though, do they ever give up any space on the pavement? Why’s it always me that has to run on the grass/roads whilst they walk 5-abreast). I need to do some more speed-work in preparation for the marathon, but this was encouraging.