“I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast is one of my favorite books. I always remembered what Hemingway said about writing, to leave something in the well for the next day. He would stop writing when he knew what was about to happen next.
As I learned the correct pace for my long runs with The Run SMART Project’s Jack Daniels 15-Week Marathon Plan, I recalled Hemingway’s writing habit and made a connection. Replace the word writing in the above quote with running. The connection is that long runs are not meant to empty the well of our running, that we should always leave something there in the deep part of the running well.
I didn’t understand this when I was training for marathons ten years ago. I often left the well empty when I ran a long run. My long run pace was too fast and I left some of my best races out on the trails.
According to Daniels’ Running Formula, 2nd Edition, I had it all wrong. In Chapter 2 under the heading Training Zones, Dr. Daniels writes that long runs are done at Easy Pace, and that the training benefits of Easy Pace running are more a function of time than intensity. Easy Pace is as fast as we need to go to get the desired benefits from the long run. He writes that Easy Pace runs should be free from trouble or pain, should be run at a conversational pace, and are almost always enjoyable.
Not only did I lose the full benefits of the long run, I also couldn’t recover in time to do the faster quality workouts on the schedule. So I skipped interval workouts and tempo runs when I was still recovering from the long run two or three days later. I was practically running a race every Sunday without realizing it.
At the start of my last marathon in 2004 my legs were dead. I grinded out a time I was satisfied with, but I know I should have done a lot better for the mileage I was running.
Since I started training with The Run Smart Project I have been training more as Hemingway wrote, leaving something in the deep part of the well. I know now that going too fast defeats the purpose of my long run and leaves me dead for the workouts when I’m supposed to go fast.
In The Run SMART Project’s VDOT O2 App, my current VDOT is 43.23, which determines my training paces. My Easy Pace is 9:15-10:11 per mile. My marathon pace is 8:12. So my Easy Pace is between one and two minutes slower than my projected marathon pace.
Here’s the map and graphs from today’s 14-miler:
I stayed on my target pace and had to keep myself from going faster. I enjoyed the run and when I stopped, I felt like there was something left in the well for tomorrow. I’ll save the speed for Wednesday’s workout, nine miles at marathon pace.
Leave a comment and share your experiences with pacing your long runs!
The Running Jones