Having a bad long-distance run is bound to happen occasionally, but knowing what went wrong is essential to avoid having history repeat itself more than one would like.
Running 23 miles doesn't start with the first mile, it begins days in advance. (FYI: Knowing this doesn't prevent you from making mistakes, it just helps reduce them). The week prior to my final long-distance training run before the RunSF Marathon was full of mental mistakes. Lack of sleep, poor eating habits and preferred clothing would all pose problems Saturday morning, but Friday night would be the essential key in creating my tough 23 miles.
Knowing better, I went out with some friends to a Mexican Restaurant Friday night and enjoyed a couple adult beverages, chips and salsa and something called a "Giant Burrito." Honestly, it wasn't that huge, but if it has "Giant" in the title... maybe avoid it when you have a 4 hour run planned the following morning.
After hanging out post-dinner I made it home by 10:30 p.m. or so which isn't too bad with a 4:30 wake up call. But after getting my stuff ready for the morning and realizing my running shorts were dirty, it led to washing them in the sink with laundry detergent. And of course, the sink would give me issues: the sink plug jammed closed and wouldn't release the water. So there I am with soapy shorts and a sink full of soapy water. It's a little after 11 and common sense would say go to another sink, rinse and fix the broken one tomorrow. NOPE. Stay up till after midnight and fix the one you broke. Friday night mistake #2.
After waking up an hour late I made my way into the city for my 23 mile run and didn't have high expectations for a successful run. Little sleep, a full stomach from dinner and no breakfast is not key to a good run.
The 23 mile run included a never ending hill, a couple more hills to mix it up and some dense misty fog that was pulled out of the late and great Michael Jackson's Thriller video. Oh ya, I didn't have time to go to the store before the run to pick up some Gatorade so in my water bottle was water and a packet of Cytomax grape powder. About 20 minutes in I go to enjoy some and it taste like poo (yep, I said poo). I think the powder may have gone bad (if that's possible). I grab so many free samples at expos and events that this could have been an old packet, so I dumped the entire bottle. No sense in carrying water I wasn't going to drink. I then proceeded to run the first 10 miles without water. Luckily I was able to score some at our first water stop (provided by some fellow running friends). Energy level shot up, but still poor planning on my part.
The remaining 13 miles went well in minutes per mile, but were just mentally exhausting. My legs felt heavy and I just wanted to do was stop. But thankfully, I was running with a great and supportive group and just kept plotting along.
If I had been running alone, I most likely would have stopped around 15, but the final long run is in the bag and the pre-marathon taper has begun. Hopefully my mistakes will be food for thought for your future, although being able to get through that run mentally may be great preparation for things that could arise race day. Silver lining in the clouds?
Have you had any bad running experiences due to mental mistakes before hand? Feel free to share.