My favorite long run trick is what I call a Dog Run. Run on an out and back course and run beyond your comfort zone like a dog running away from home without much concern of making it back. Sometimes everything works out and other times even if I had 4 legs I’d still be in trouble. The point of the dog run is to leave yourself without an out. Worst case, you have to stop and walk and still cover the prescribed overall mileage set by the distance traveled to the turnaround.
The most important thing is to gauge how you feel on the way out. If it is just not your day, don’t push it. You have to make it back alive. Well duh. Sunday, I planned on doing 12 miles as I had done 11 the week before in an 1 hour 41 minutes. It was much hotter this week than last so I started off a bunch slower than normal. The heat was taking its toll on the way out, so I decided to cut it short and turned around at 5.5 miles to at least cover the mileage of the week before. To help ensure I didn’t die, I told my wife to come out to get me at the 2 hour mark.
I started walking at the 9.4 mark as I didn’t feel terrible, but I did feel like it was the wise thing to do. I checked the time and I had been out 1:48 at that point. I really need a drink, so I really hoped to see my wife soon. I got to the drinking fountain in town before my wife made it to me at roughly the 2:04 point. She brought cold water that tasted a lot better than fountain water. She asked if I wanted a ride, but I wanted to get my mileage and felt like there was no risk to walk the rest of the way home, so I did.
Try a dog run sometime, if you haven’t already, but be smart about it. It is a great way to push your limits.
Song suggestion of the day: Rocky Mountain High – John Denver. This song takes the listener away from the time and place unless of course you are running in the Rocky Mountains. Not every run can be in/at such a beautiful place, so music can take over for a peace of the mental side of running.