In thinking about this weekend's upcoming 20-miler, I came across an article that I'd read before over on Active, "7 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Long Runs," by Coach Jenny Hadfield. I believe that the article, overall, is targeted more toward beginner distance runners / marathoners. However, I actually found it helpful as I mentally prepare for the first of two 20-milers that I have coming up - especially the second mistake Coach Hadfield highlights:
2. Running too Fast
The difference between running for fitness and training for a long-distance running race is one stays consistent week to week (fitness) and the latter builds and progresses throughout the season. Because of this progression, it is important to vary your effort level as you train. In other words, run at a pace that is easy and conversational. If you can talk while you're running the long run, you're at the right effort. If you can't, you're running too fast. Avoid trying to run the long runs by a pace or target time. This sets you up for the race pace training disaster where you feel great for about four to six weeks, then things start to crumble when your energy levels decline, your body aches, and performance begins to suffer
In looking at my pace/HR data on @TrainingPeaks, I know what she's talking about. While I strive to maintain a conversational pace on my LSD runs (even alone and even if that means I look like I'm talking to myself - which I probably am), I sometimes get obsessed with my data. If my pace starts to tail off, I'll pick it up, starting a whole host of problems. My HR spikes, my breathing becomes more labored and I am apt to bonk out before getting in the complete distance targeted.
Knowing that I am prone to make this mistake and the fact that I am re-reading this article, I know that am prepared to get into the mindset this weekend to take it slower and easier. With only 38 days and some hours left until I toe the start line at the ING NYC Marathon for the first time, I can't afford to get injured.
What do you do to slow yourself down when you need to?