On the Long Run

Oh, Sunday morning – in my world, that means one thing: long run! And what a glorious day it was today; in the midst of the cold, grey Scottish winter the sun managed to melt away the clouds for the morning and even the wind was howling with less vigour that before.

Today, I ran out of my front door and along the Fife Coastal Path for 20 miles. I absolutely loved the feeling of going on a running journey – while circular runs are very convenient, it’s always a bit frustrating to run for three or four hours only to finish where I’ve started. The only downside to the point-to-point run was that I had to catch a bus back home, but it wasn’t all bad – while waiting for the bus, I had time to grab a massive sandwich and a Chai Tea Latte – heaven! The ground conditions on the coastal path were ever changing and ranged from harbour roads and crossing flat, bouncy grass tracks to staggering through deep sand and unrunnable scrambles over slippery rocks on the shore. I took each hurdle as it came and stayed happy and relaxed the whole way, as evidenced by the fact that I kept stopping to take photographs:

Heading to the trail:

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Is it just me, or is this just asking to be run?

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I passed several pretty fishing villages:

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Stopped to admire the views:

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This came out of nowhere – I suspect  that I took a wrong turn somewhere and ran into a fairytale…

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Passing some interesting rock formations on the route:

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This is where the going got tougher, but the end (St. Andrews) was in sight:

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After 32 kilometres the sun was still shining on me:

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When training for a marathon, my long runs involve running up to 35 km (or 22 miles) at a reasonably steady pace. In those runs, the goal is to keep moving forward, to dial into a pace and stick to it for the next 3 hours or so.

However, in preparation for the 88km ultramarathon in June, I’m aware that I’ll have to make some significant changes to my approach to running for a really long time. For a start, my long runs will have to get a lot longer; I’m hoping to clock several long runs of 6 hours and in excess of 50 kilometres before then. Right in this moment, even writing about those kind of distances makes me feel a little queasy! I’m sure that training my body to endure what I’m planning on inflicting upon it will be the relatively doable part – it’s the taming of the craziness that is my mind which leaves me feeling a little twitchy!

I’ll also have to take my long runs onto the trails a lot more often before the ultra. At the moment, I like to alternate my long runs between the roads and flat-ish trails and footpaths, which I find is a good combination to prepare me for a road marathon.

Finally, I’ll have to slow things down a lot. At the very least, there will be several pit stops on race day. Although the plan is to run the whole 88km, the reality is that there will of course be stretches that I’ll walk: necessitated, for instance, by particularly steep climbs, eating dinner on the go, giving sore muscles a stretch or break, or even the temporary surrender to fatigue. The idea of walking on long runs is new to me, and while I won’t have to practice the walking itself (duh!), I need to get used to the transition back to running as soon as possible. And I have no doubt that this will get increasingly harder with every passing mile!

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What have you been up to this weekend? Did anyone else get to enjoy the surprisingly fantastic weather?

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21 thoughts on “On the Long Run

  1. TartanJogger says:

    What a beautiful run you had! And the weather was very kind to you!

    • It was so unusual for February and nothing like the weather we’ve been having all winter – it really was fantastic, it was so nice to run in the sunshine once again! I can’t wait for summer!

  2. Amy says:

    I’m jealous of how beautiful your long run was! Mine was on a treadmill, thankfully it was much shorter than yours. 🙂

  3. Wow, what a stunning route. I just can’t comprehend the kind of training needed for an ultra. 20 mile runs give me sleepless nights! Amazing, I wish you all the very best with your training.

    • Thanks a lot! I also can’t comprehend ultra long runs (yet!), but given that I’ve signed up for one, I better start getting my head around them! 😉 In general I really like long runs though – I just enjoy them. If you are struggling with yours, ask yourself if the struggles are physical or mental. If it’s physical, that’s easier to fix – you just need to figure out why you are running out of steam. Lack of training, sleep, nutrition? Those can easily be fixed. If you are struggling mentally, I’d say just remember that you run because you enjoy it and that running should be enjoyable – including your long runs. Don’t make them so much about the momentuous mountain of miles you have to run, just go on a journey and practice looking after after yourself. The miles will pass more easily if you think about something else. =) Living in a gorgeous place really helps though. I really wish you all the best with your long runs!

  4. Angie says:

    Wow, what a beautiful route! Keep posting these so I can run vicariously through you!! Training for an ultra is going to be an experience of a lifetime. I’m looking forward to reading all about it.

    • Thank you Angie! I’m really looking forward to the experience and I agree that it’ll probably be life-changing in some ways. It’s going to be so tough, but such an adventure!

  5. vttrailgirl says:

    Beautiful pictures!

  6. Joey says:

    You don’t really need to do any runs longer than 26 miles for training leading up to you ultra. Especially for your first. Might do more harm than good.

    • Hey, and thank you for commenting. It’s interesting that you say that – it would certainly make my life a lot easier. I haven’t decided on my actual training plan for the ultra just yet, but most of the ones I’ve looked at are basically marathon training plans with crazy long back-to-back longruns on the weekends. I certainly don’t want to overtrain or risk injury, so perhaps a little less would be better!

      • Joey says:

        Going into my first 50 miler, my longest training run was 24 miles. And yeah the idea of back to backs comes in. So the day after that longest run, I did about 18 miles.

      • That’s really helpful, thank you! I bet the back to back runs are pretty painful, but then I’ll have to get used to running on tired legs…

  7. Laura Alonso says:

    What a wonderful route to share, it’s like a trip in itself. Good luck with the ultra training! xx

  8. Trails and Ultras says:

    Ha ha I just sent you an email asking what training you were doing and now I realise you just wrote a post about it. Oops! Oh well 🙂 This is absolutely my favourite type of run: covering the distance and exploring new places. I always rely on buses and trains to get back…I prefer the sense of having actually travelled somewhere rather than running in a loop. In my mind it feels like more of an achievement to say I went from this place to that place. And then, because I’m a sad person, I like to look at the two places on a map and marvel at the distance I’ve covered 🙂

    • There is something about point-to-point runs that make them more meaningful, I totally agree. And I love the feeling of this actually being a journey. The bus trip back is great – I couldn’t help but think: “Oooh I ran all of that this morning!”. How are the coastal path looking down your end? I hope you are surviving the stroms…!

      • Trails and Ultras says:

        A bit wet and muddy 😦 I don’t mind on short runs but it gets a bit tedious on a longer run. Also it’s so windy, last week the wind was actually blowing the spit out of my mouth. Very attractive 🙂

  9. Lily says:

    What a beautiful route!

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