Getting up to run is always harder when my body isn't feeling 100%. I was a bit hesitant yesterday to get going on my long run because my back was feeling pretty tight and one of my legs wasn't feeling great. My long run had already been postponed to Sunday so I knew that if I bailed on it again, I would not feel good about that at all. Fortunately, it was in the high 30s to low 40s when I was looking to leave so I didn't have an added obstacle of obscenely cold weather. As always, I had my protein shake followed with some coffee to look forward to if I went ahead and ran.
It turned out to be a great day for a run and I had a pretty solid 8 miler. The forecast was cloudy and dreary, but within the first couple miles, the sun came out and I almost got too warm at some points - oddly enough, the sun went back behind some clouds shortly after I got done running. I was able to keep my average pace to 9:45/mile and I think that's my sticky spot so far. The past couple long runs I've done have been right around that pace, granted that I'm never trying to push it too hard on long days, it still tells me I have a lot of work to do to get to my target race pace of 9:00/mile.
To do that, I'm making a modification to the Hal Higdon schedule that I've been loosely basing my training on. Instead of having my Wednesday runs repeat distance, I'm going to use Wednesdays to get a feel for my target pace and start pushing the distance on those. I did 4 miles at pace the past two weeks, but I'm going to start trying to move it up another mile every week, so we'll see how that goes. There also isn't a race scheduled that I'm aiming for at the specific end of the schedule I linked above here so I have a bit more latitude in terms of my timeframe.
If nothing else, this latest 8 miler solidified that long run days are my favorite part of my training schedule. Once I got out and got going, my back loosened up and my leg wasn't a problem any more and besides the general fatigue of putting in 8 miles, my body felt great the rest of the day. Long runs allow me to get more in the zone and just tune in to what I'm doing. It's also a great time to listen to podcasts - I finished my second listen through the Hardcore History series on the Mongols and got started on my second listen through the World War I series. When I'm pacing, I'm still at the point where I have to think about maintaining my speed, not getting gassed to quickly, whether or not I'll make it, and any number of other things; but when I'm going for distance and just trying to stay below 10:00/mile, I can just zone out and keep going. The goal, I guess, is to get to where I can fall in to 9:00/mile pace and zone out the way I do with a slower pace now.