Envisioning Success on a Long Run

I always do my long runs outside.  I have never been a fan of logging countless boring miles on the treadmill.  That is, until yesterday.

I try to minimize my time away from my son and husband as best as I can (especially on the weekends) – I’ll run early in the morning before they wake up or during one of my son’s naps.

I had a dilemma yesterday – there were two things I really wanted to do –  watch the Olympic Marathon Trials (aired from 3-5pm) and run my scheduled 16 miles. Instead of running for two hours in the morning and then spending another two hours in the afternoon watching the Olympics, I decided to combine the two.  I hopped on the treadmill  to run my scheduled 16 miles while watching the Olympics.  (I guess I have gotten better with time management!)

After reading some inspiring blogs this week (Jessica and Dorothy) about paces on long runs (hitting MP or faster the last few miles), I decided I wanted to give it a try (I usually only pick up the pace the last mile). My goal for the day was 7:45 through 13 and then 7:18 average over the last three.

While I target a 7:45 pace for my long runs, I will typically adjust that pace +/- 15 seconds after completing a few miles each long run.  Why?

My “steady” pace is different each long run.  

Some weeks I feel great – other weeks it’s a struggle to run sub-8.  The steady pace seems to change due to a variety of factors – amount of sleep I’ve been getting, workouts, weekly mileage.

Pushing myself too hard on a long run could result in being exhausted, having to take time off, or injuring myself.  Even though I want to hit that goal pace each time I do a long run, I ultimately let my body dictate the pace.

By mile 2.5 yesterday, I was completely warmed up and running 7:35 and felt that I had found my “steady” pace for the run. It was comfortable, I wasn’t out of breath, and I felt I could maintain that pace for a considerable amount of time. So my new goal for the run was 7:35. 

Words cannot describe how motivating and inspiring it was to run while watching the country’s best fly along the course in Houston.  I paid almost no attention to my running – my eyes were glued to the TV and the exciting races that were being run.

Below are my splits:

  • Mile 1: 8:12
  • Mile 2: 7:47
  • Mile 3: 7:37
  • Mile 4: 7:35
  • Mile 5: 7:35
  • Mile 6: 7:31
  • Mile 7: 7:28
  • Mile 8: 7:26
  • Mile 9: 7:31
  • Mile 10: 7:38
  • Mile 11: 7:33
  • Mile 12: 7:32
  • Mile 13: 7:29
  • Mile 14: 7:20
  • Mile 15: 7:08
  • Mile 16: 6:45

   Total distance: 16 miles
   Total time: 2:00:07
   Average Pace: 7:30
   Pace over last 3 miles: 7:04

Mile 14 was hard.

Mile 15 was even harder.

I was out of breath.  My lungs were burning.  My legs were hurting.  I wanted to stop multiple times.

Source: http://www.brushnewstribune.com/ci_19742283

It was at this point that Flanagan, Davila, and Goucher were approaching the finish line.  I started envisioning myself on the course.  I was running the trials and vying for a spot on the Olympic Team.  I was alongside them, running as hard and fast as I could.

I thought about how exciting and exhilarating it must have been for those three women – the new faces of American distance running.  And how redeeming to know that the hard work, sweat, and pain was paying off.  I felt the excitement, the exhilaration, and welcomed the pain I was experiencing.

During those few miles, I was an elite runner. I was on TV. I saw the finish line and heard the crowd cheering. I felt like I could fly.

And I was.

I was gradually increasing the speed of my last mile (average 6:45 pace) and was running sub 6:20 the last 1/4 mile.

I was out of breath, but I was smiling and loving every moment.

There are times I don’t win the mental battle I have with myself on long runs.  But I’m happy to say that by envisioning success and victory, I won the battle yesterday.

Have you used imagery on your long runs?  Do you picture anything specific? Finishing your first marathon? Running a PR? Qualifying for Boston? 


Congratulations to all the runners who competed in the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials!  Regardless of what place they finished yesterday, it is an amazing accomplishment to even qualify for the Marathon Trials!  Looking forward to cheering the winners on at London this summer!!

Source: http://www.denverpost.com/sports/ci_19743275


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    21 thoughts on “Envisioning Success on a Long Run

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    2. Michele, do you think envisioning success also works for recovering from an injury? I have several mild-moderate issues I’m dealing with right now that are keeping me from really going for it on my runs and am feeling so impatient — now wondering if perhaps I should try to think myself well?! :)

      • I am a huge believer that your mental well-being and state affects your physical well being.
        If it’s a mental block (feeling tired, feeling slow, no energy, etc) think envisioning success can pay HUGE dividends. There are times that I feel as though I can’t complete my workout b/c I am telling myself I am tired. I just need a pep talk from myself that I’m not tired and I can run it off – it usually works.
        However, if you are injured then even though it’s hard to take time off, sometimes that is what you need to do. The one time I was really injured (took a hard fall during a trail race), I kept reinjuring myself b/c I didn’t give myself enough time to fully heal. I would take a week off, heal about 80%, and think I could run. I would go out and hurt myself all over again.
        I’ve also learned not to self-diagnose if it is something that is lingering. Have you gone to see a Dr?

        • First, so happy to hear your son is OK. We went through this very thing when our now-5-year-old son was just shy of 2 (but asthma rather than croup), and it can be a frightening experience. Hope it’s smooth sailing for him from here on out.

          Second, thanks so much for your response. I am indeed injured (strained calf and, I believe, strained hamstring), and I am beyond frustrated. I’m attempting to return to running after 4 kids and many years away — thought I was taking it very easy, but apparently not easy enough.

          I haven’t seen a doc, been talking it through with a physical therapist, but maybe I ought to re-think. Got a sports medicine recommendation in the NYC area?


    3. Wow girl, you are a TRUE INSPIRATION. That is an amazing run, and a great way to be inspired!!!! Congrats on such a phenomenal run!

    4. I can’t imagine anything more motivating than watching the trials during a run! Weren’t they all just fabulous? I’m thrilled for our Olympic team but a tad sad for Amy Hastings and Ritz–4th is a very tough spot.

      • I still have it DVR’d and I’m contemplating turning it on during other runs =) My heart broke for the 4th place runners – to come SO close to qualifying for a spot!

    5. what a great way to combine your long run with watching the trials! i went out for 18 in the morning and then recorded the trials to watch later because i knew i wasn’t likely to be able to snag more time to focus on that after being gone all morning. we do what we have to do, right!?
      your long run yesterday was amazing – made even more so by the fact that you did it on the treadmill. i haven’t run more than 10 miles on the treadmill. like you, i would always prefer to be outside if at all possible!
      i’m trying to honor the slower pace for my long runs. right now i’m training for a 3:30 marathon, so i’m trying to hit somewhere between 8:30-9:30 average pace on my long runs. but i do like to use those last few miles to see what i have in me on such tired legs and test out marathon pace. later in my training i will have more race pace miles in some of my long runs too. but i believe in those slower paces for long runs because they build our endurance and also leave me not too taxed so recovery isn’t quite as rough.
      you are training so amazingly well, michele! i love seeing your splits – so inspiring. i just can’t get enough of reading your blog!!!

    6. Holy crap. Seriously, you are quite the quick runner! Depending on circumstances, sometimes I feel like ‘just finishing’ or I fly through the miles and forget I’m even out there. What a great way to kill time on a treadmill though!!!

    7. Wow you go girl. I think I would call that a very successful treadmill run! I’m jealous you got to run during the trials, that really does sound so, so motivating.

    8. You are an amazing runner. I seriously can’t wait until I can approach those paces on long runs. I run between 8:45-9:15 on long runs. I do quite a few marathon pace runs where I run up to 12 miles at marathon pace during an 18 miler. I am excited to see my long run pace improve over this next year. When I am out on long runs, I draw in from people that I read about online. For me, it helps to know that you all were once in my shoes and look at you now. Great run Michele!

      • Robin – you just ran a sub 3:35 marathon! I’d say you are definitely running those times!! Sometimes it just takes believing that you can on the training runs =)

    9. Great way to combine the run and the coverage. It was incredibly inspiring and clearly worked for you in those last few miles! Well done.

      I like the idea of letting your body dictate the pace on a long run. I find that is the one disadvantage to running w/ others. Sometimes the pace is just more than what my body wants on that long run, but I push to do it anyhow. And then I’m tired! Yesterday, we started nice and easy, however, and I finished feeling strong. It was awesome!

      • I agree – running with others is fantastic except you can’t truly listen to your body. However, there are times when I *think* my body needs to slow down but I don’t let it b/c of the other runners and then a few miles later, I feel fine! So sometimes the extra push is great!!
        So glad to hear that you are back =)

    10. What a great way to kill the boredom of the treadmill and get inspired! I can’t believe you racked up so many miles indoors, amazing! AND such incredible splits. Way to go, lady!!

      I need to get used to long runs on my own, at the moment they are always either with my running club or my Dad. I need to get used to running alone sometimes.

      Looking forward to reading your next post!!

      • I rely heavily on my music when I am running alone (which I prefer doing actually)…It’s totally a mental game too…If I think about the 16, 18, 20 miles I have to run alone, I get psyched out. I really focus on each mile and tell myself to run the pace I want to FOR THAT MILE. Once that mile is done, I do it again. Before you know it, you’re have done!! =)

      • Wow, that is impressive. I’m so proud of you! You’re so far ahead of me on that juneory! But you know what I’m going to be doing as soon as I hit goal, do running isn’t a practical thing for me right now. I’d get all good at it then have to give it up again!

    11. Wow, truly incredible and extremely speedy run! Way to dig deep and not give up when the going got tough. You are so fast! Weren’t the trials so incredibly inspiring? I wanted to run a marathon right then and there. But my heart broke for Fitz and Hastings, how terrible to get 4th.

    12. Great job on your run! I am stuck on the treadmill a lot this time of year and I love having something good to watch. It makes a HUGE difference. :) Watching the trials yesterday was so awesome and so inspiring. I love running! :)
      Great job!