Long run frustration (Read 442 times)


    I am a new runner.  (I ran for about seven months, got a pelvic sfx and was off for eight months,  then started running again last November.)  I have built my base miles to 30-35 mpw and am currently preparing for my first HM in September.  At this point, I have run eight runs over 10 miles, with my longest at 13.  On every single one, I am good until about 7-8 miles, then I crash, with absolutely no energy reserves.  If I stop and rest a few minutes, eat some sugar and drink a bit, I can continue, and I generally finish fairly well, though sometimes I end up having to walk off and on for the last couple of miles.  Where I run is somewhat hilly, so 10-13 mile runs end up with about 800-1000' elevation gain.  I want to be able to run continuously, without the crash and burn.  I carry water and have tried a gel or raisins at about mile 8, but I end up with stomach cramps that make it hard to run.  I know a lot of runners say you shouldn't need food for such a short distance, but I don't know what else to do to keep going.  My comfortable pace is between 10:15 and 11:00 minute miles and I haven't noticed any real difference between my slower runs and my faster ones, though I know I usually start out too fast.  Given the timing, about 80 minutes into the run, is it simply a matter of glycogen depletion, and my body will eventually adjust?  Should I be doing more gels?   To build endurance, the usual refrain is 'run more' but at this point I don't expect to build my weekly mileage a whole lot beyond 40-45, since my buildup has been fairly rapid as it is.

    an amazing likeness

      According to a glance at your running log...the long runs are quite a stretch from your usual workouts.  Adding some workouts in the 7,8 or 10 mile range looks like it would give you better balance. It is unlikely to be related to needing to onboard gycogen, nearly everyone has plenty of calories stored for a 13 mile run. Since many of your runs are 3 - 4 miles...you may just need to change up your workout routine to train your body for the longer runs.

      I've done my best to live the right way. I get up every morning and go to work each day. (for now)


      Honorary Old

        I agree with milktruck. Also, its possible that you are running your LRs too fast, and/or your nutrition before your LR isn't as carby as it should be. Your "short" runs should probably be more like 4-6 miles even if it means running a day less per week.

        2 Mile: 17: 11   5k PR: 27:45    5 Mile: 44:11    10K: 59:01    Half: 2:15:59     Marathon: 5:50:07




          Looking at your log, I would throw in some days off every now and then. Recovery is a key component of training. Also just to give an example, I have a medium size frame and sit around 190 lbs. I'll go a through weight lifting regime a few times a year becuase for me I find that increased strength allows me to carry my weight wait longer and faster.


            I'm running 5 days a week, with 3 runs at 4-6 miles, one long (10 +) and one 6-7 miles.


            If you ask

              Seems to me you're running your long runs too fast (IMHO).  I'm only suggesting this bc my comfortable runs (solo run, no effort) are about a 9:30 m/m, my speed runs from 8:00- 8:45 m/m, so my LSR is 10-10:30 m/m.   It's a slow, conversational pace.

              • Charlie Horse Half Marathon - May 25
              • PA Grand Canyon Marathon - July 27
              • Labor Pain 12 Hour Endurance - August 31 (50k...or more!)


                Just for an experiment, try a 10 mile run at 12 MPM.  Run/walk if you can't make yourself run that slow.  Let us know if that helps.

                Queen of 3rd Place

                  My experience leads me to agree with MilkTruck. Getting in a mid-week "medium long" run does wonders for how strong I feel during long runs.  Rule of thumb for medium long runs is that they should take you about 90 min to complete and generally not take longer than 2 hrs. Since you're comfortable up to 7 or 8, that would be a great place to start. Pace should be similar to your easy runs.

                  Your long runs can be a little slower than your easy runs. It's better to slow down and be able to complete the run than to have to stop. You definitely should get to the point where you don't need to eat. Sometimes an upset stomach is because you're drinking too much water and get kind of sloshy - yuck. If you really need to eat (for now), experiment with different foods and don't be afraid to get edgy. I was shocked to find out while training for an ultra that my body really liked salami on rye with tons of mustard - go figure.


                  Personally, a really easy day (maybe even just a very slow 2 mi) always makes me more refreshed than straight-up rest. Some people go for  a walk or a bicycle ride. Some people really do need that day off. You'll have to experiment. But the more miles you can get in every week, the better that long run is going to go.

                  Ex runner

                  some call me Tim

                    I also live in a very hilly area, and would encourage you to think about effort level as well as pace. If you happen to be running your long runs a bit too fast with lots of hills, it may amount to essentially a long interval workout, which iirc is the 'best' way to deplete glycogen quickly because at higher %vo2max intensity the body favors glycogen more as an energy source(this is from Noakes, but I'd have to look it up). So the uphills would function as your interval and downhills or flats the recoveries that allow you to get more work in at that intensity without having to stop. It ought to be easy enough to test - dial back the intensity (12mpm or something like JRMichler suggests) and you ought to be able to go for *much* longer with no issues at your current fitness level.

                    Half Fanatic #846

                      If I hydrate adequately (sports drink in my case) the day before a long run, I find that makes a difference, too.

                      "I don't always roll a joint, but when I do, it's usually my ankle" - unk.                          Run like the winded

                       I ran half my last race on my left foot!                   "Frankly autocorrect, I'm getting a bit tired of your shirt"


                        I second (third? 10th?) Milk Truck.  Hate to say it, but right now you may not have the fitness to do the run the way you want to do it.


                        More weekly miles would support your long run.  Six days a week would help get more miles, plus a midweek moderate long run.  Are you following a training plan?

                          Where I run is somewhat hilly, so 10-13 mile runs end up with about 800-1000' elevation gain.  I want to be able to run continuously, without the crash and burn.

                          This is why it is hard.  Smile   Hilly terrain can really take a toll on you.   I say stick with 10 miles as the max distance of your long run until you can do it as a continuous run.  No need to flog yourself until your fitness level increases a little bit.  I doubt it is a glycogen issue unless you run on an empty stomach and haven't eaten anything for many hours prior.  Keep at it.  Sometimes progress in running is slow.  Patience and persistance is key.

                          "When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up against them; for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels."  Ezekiel 1:21

                          Jon the Freshman

                            My take on your problem as well as all the responses is that you need to increase Your mileage by upping a midweek run. This will allow you to reach your goal mileage while supporting a stronger base. Also since you haven't reached the point where running everyday is necessary try making your rest day before your long run. This way you are fresh for it and it also serves as a precursor for your half as i imagine taking the day off before race will be part of your taper.

                              I did my LR today on the TM, mostly because of the heat and humidity, but also to work on slowing down.  I incorporated a lot of the suggestions here:  yesterday was a rest day, I kept the pace slower, and I kept the incline low (1-2).  I did 13.5 without any trouble.  I do intend to lengthen my MLR as well over the next weeks, which should also help.


                              Thank you for the suggestions.  I know I need to work on the slow pace outside.  It's hard, when the uphills feel so slow and difficult, to know what easy pace actually is.  Right now, anything flat or downhill feels easy, which is why I end up running too fast on my long runs. At least I know I can run 13 without too much trouble, which is a big boost.  I was starting to wonder if LD racing was going to be possible for me.  I have until September to figure out how to go fast on hills without a crash and burn, but for now, slow and easy will be the ticket.


                              I'm not following a plan.  Higdon's mileage is too low.  I was warned off the Runners World plans.   We plan on doing some travel off and on this summer, which means I have no idea how consistent I will be able to be while on the road.  My plan has been to just increase my base mileage as time allowed.  I plan to try to maintain the current level, increase it if possible, and do speed work once a week plus some informal speed work on the shorter runs.   We'll see how that works.  It's a first race, so by default it will be a PR.  I just want it to be something I enjoy, not some sort of death march to the finish line.

                              some call me Tim

                                Awesome that you had some positive feedback from your run(!), and I can totally relate to problems finding easy intensity on hills. And as it is with me, I can imagine that it's tough for you to find a non-hilly route without having to drive a ways to get to it. I think you should still do what feels natural on the downhills... it's great training and my limited experience has been that I can reel people in on downhills during races because I've gotten such regular practice at running them efficiently. It's so common for inexperienced runners to pass on downhills and get passed back on the next uphill that I feel like being able to pass on the downhill and hold deals a definite psychological blow.


                                Running slow enough on the uphills is hard, but again I think it's another great skill set to work on if you think about it in those terms and not just another thing to endure. That way you not only have a specific purpose to your workout, but little subset skills you're working on. It's possible I'm just geeking out here, but that kind of focus really helps me to enjoy the run and to be able to review my progress later in a sort of abstract way, rather than relying entirely on numbers to track my progress.