The Long Run: Anxiety and Doubts

Last Saturday I posted this on my personal facebook page:

It doesn't matter how many marathons I have trained for and raced. I will always get long run anxiety. Tomorrow I will have my faith and the love for my Dad lifting me up. Tomorrow I will nail my official first training long run and succeed at hitting my scheduled paces. #iwill as this is what #fitfluential looks like! — feeling determined.

And I was determined yet anxious. And seeing that the plan had me slated to run 10 of the 16 miles at a 9'00" pace freaked me out for some reason. My coach calmed my nerves somewhat by pointing out that the overall pace of my last couple of long runs achieved that but still, I knew the course I was running and I am hard on myself. Very hard. And I try not to let up too much.

I started my run with determination knowing that I wanted to nail some of those paces on the uphill climb and not rely on 8 "easy" downhill miles to bank those faster paces. My first mile clocked in at 9'44" and I had mixed feelings. First, darnit, not fast enough. Second, get over it girl! Traditionally this first mile on this route is between 10'30" and 11'00". You are warming up on a mild uphill climb. Stay strong. Hearing that my overall pace was coming down made me feel good and my next two miles were at 9'27" and 8'55".

The thing that you don't know is that when my Nike GPS gives me splits it gives average pace, not my current pace. When you are trying to nail x pace that is a bummer. During the run I had no idea that mile 3 was sub-nine. I just knew my average pace was coming down. As much as I would love for that knowledge to carry me on it was battling against harder uphill climbs, doubt was setting in, things were getting tougher, and my pace reflected it. Miles 4 and 5 were 9'54" and 10'25"...my slowest mile.

I was hearing that my average pace was slower and as much as I felt I couldn't I knew I had 11 miles left and needed 10 miles at 9'00". I tried to bury the doubts and do my best. Mile 6 was a 9'53" mile and then things eased up. Literally. The uphills leveled up and this stretch of the run I can always pick up my pace. My next two miles were at 8'04" and 8'07". I still had no idea what pace I was running but I knew I was going faster. And I knew at the turn I always tend to slow down a bit. And I did. The next two miles were at 8'51" and 8'55". My goal pace. On somewhat flat ground. Yes, there were gentle up's and down's but the intensity of climbs were less. Ironically, the downhill portion isn't all smooth sailing.

By mile 12 I felt sick. I went to drink some water and really wanted to throw it back up. My head felt funny and I realized I needed some extra electrolytes and took a salt tab. In hindsight, the two miles leading up to this were at 7'50" and 7'58"...a minute faster than my goal marathon pace....that could have played a role in the sick tummy. I still didn't know my splits and I came to terms that I would just have to be honest with my coach and say I did the best I could. I was hot. I started my run an hour later than usual and I questioned if that was what was getting to me. More doubts. I ran slower the next two miles at 8'26" and 8'45". Then I got determined...again.

I knew I had just a mere two miles to go. I can do anything for 20 minutes, right? Yes, I always think my miles are 10 minute miles. I pushed myself as hard as I could. Run fast to that pole and then you can have a little break. Run fast over that bridge then you can ease up a bit. Run fast up that hill then you will be able to see the end. It will be easier then. Run as fast as you can. Make this last mile count. My final two splits were 8'02" and 7'34". Mile 16 was my faster. How cool is that?

I still didn't realized what I had done but there are some things I did know. At the halfway point my average pace was 9'18". At the end it was under 9'00". Part of me was happy but part of me wanted more and still does. You see, I want my overall pace to be even faster. Yes, the real overall average was 8'49". Yes, my goal marathon pace is 9'00". But I know these hills and this downhill stretch and wonder if that downhill bonus is skewing what I will actually do on race day on a course not like this. Doubts.

I want more. I want to hit the turn at an average pace of 9'00" and bring my overall pace down lower too. I push myself. Hard. I am my own worst enemy at times. And this is one major reason why I strongly believe in getting a coach. Yes, I am a certified running coach but I can be very hard on myself. Trust me, I am more logical with my clients. I need someone to apply that logic to me as well.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my coach.
Daily Affirmation: I will reach my goals.


  1. Sounds like you pushed yourself hard! I think you'll do great in the marathon if you keep training like this.

    Are you going to get your own coach?

    Wendy @TakingtheLongWayHome

    1. Thanks Wendy!

      Yes, I got myself a coach. In fact, I did so last year after the Maui Marathon and he helped me reach my goal to break a 4:20 marathon in December. I took some downtime and began training again with him just this month. It adds another layer of accountability and saves me from myself. ;)


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