Today’s long run sucked the big one. I haven’t had a bad run like this in a long time. From the get go it was doomed. It was a cold (22F) morning as I hoped into the car and headed out. I had everything prepared, body glide, GU, Sports Beans, water, even bandages on my nippies. When I pulled up to the trail, I saw it was still covered in snow. Heavily covered at that. My mind instantly turned to how far I was planning on running. How in the hell was I going to make it 18 miles, the furthest I’ve ever run, in such conditions. I made the command decision to drop it to a 16 miler.
I got out,prepared myself for the run and headed north. The trail is marked every mile and my parking is about .1/4 mile south of the 4 mile mark. I planned to run up to mile 9, back down to mile 1 (cutting off the first mile length to make it 16 instead of 18) then back up to my car. The first 5 miles were ok, nothing great but ok. I was feeling fine, but the trail had not been used as much on these upper sections so there was a lot of untouched snow, roughly two inches deep. This made the run harder, and I got plenty of snow between my socks and shoes. At the turn around I did a bit of stretching, took a GU and headed back. Around mile 7 I started feeling some GI issues. I don’t think it was the GU as it was the hmmm, lower section. Thankfully by mile marker 7 there is an old train depot that has bathrooms so I hit the up for a bit. After some relief, I took off again, making it past my car (10 miles into the run) and kept heading south. Shortly after this, I was really starting to think about turning around. It was cold, the snow in my shoes melted making my feet wet, and I’ll I wanted to do was go home, change into something warm, hop under some blankets and fall asleep next to the heater. Alas, I kept going.
I did take my Sports Beans around here and took a few extra walk breaks. It didn’t help my mindset. In fact, usually when I hear the beep to start my running (1:45/1 run/walk) I’m slightly energized. Not today! Each sound of the beep was like a small spear sinking into my brain causing what little motivation I had at this point to drain out. Miraculously I made it to the second turn around (13 miles into the run) and headed back. I kept thinking “3 more miles, only 3 more miles to go!” but around mile 14.5 I gave out. I’d stopped for a walk and when the beep went off, I reached into my pocket and turned off the Gymboss (a new interval timer I have that’s loud enough to hear under all my winter gear). I ended up walking the last 1.5 miles. I wasn’t physically worn out. Rather, I probably could have done the 18 miles no problem. I just couldn’t mentally take another run interval. I can’t really explain it, my mind just didn’t want to go any further. I walked back to my car, ashamed for stopping. “How could I just give out like that? My legs weren’t killing me. I wasn’t out of breath or feeling like I was going to collapse. What happened?”
I rarely ever cut a run short after starting. That’s one of the things I pride myself on. If I set out for five, I go five. I’d say only a handful of times this last year did I actually stop before intended. I know there’s nothing wrong with this, but for some reason I felt ashamed today. After I stopped, all that went through my head was questions if I’m truly ready for a marathon. I’ve been very lucky with my training. Only missed a handful of runs (coincidently, most of them were last week). Maybe I’m still recovering from my sickness. Maybe running on the varied snow terrain made it more difficult. No telling
Regardless, of the reason, I need to work on my long run motivation. Maybe next week I’ll break out my walkman again. I’ve been running music-less for awhile. Maybe that will help.
Next week was going to be a 20 miler, but I think I’ll retry for the 18. Now melt damn snow!
What do you do to keep motivated on long runs?