Running 26km at the best of times can be challenging

  Running 26 km at the best of times can be challenging.

Our Saturday long run was 26km back on January 3, 2015, so a route was needed to run this distance. As I love the process in planning the routes, I volunteered to plan the route again for this week’s run. I like to have control of the route planning for many personal reasons, the biggest is I have always needed to know the route from start to finish, if I didn’t know the route turn by turn, I would have an inner attack of some sort anxiety and I would pretty much give up while running as if I had no inner energy to continue running until someone told me the end of the route and how much further we had to run. Then with each step that I took as I got closer to the end I would speed up and finish the run strong, instead of tired and defeated.

The route needs to be one that we haven’t ran over and over as we do have some streets that over the last few years we tend to just start our run on just to top load the kilometers at the beginning.

At the time there was just 2 of us training for LA Marathon, which has come and gone. We had started our real long distances (any distance over 21km is a longer distance to us).

We have a few friends that want to keep up their running mileage so they join us for the smaller distance, but still distances that are over 15 km in distance.

Back in January, two friends were joining us on our Saturday long run and they wanted to run anywhere between 19-20 km.

So the planning began…..

Just as few things that make a good route are:

  1. Try not to repeat an over-used portion of roads from previous runs over the years.
  2. Have a good variety of elevations, hills going down & up and not necessary in that order or right after each other (but that truly is a great idea for a future run). Flat and easy is always a favorite and depending on what race you may be training for a route that has a gradual incline is always a nice challenge on a long run. A good plan is to try and mimic your race if possible.
  3. When making a route with two different mileage goals, try not to have the route go near where the cars are parked, the best way to avoid this is to have the group that is running the shorter of the distances to branch off in one direction and the longer group goes in the other direction.
  4. Bathrooms on the route is always a very important detail, even if you may not be passing directly by a gas station, it is a good idea knowing where they are just in case someone needs to use a bathroom. And then you are able to adjust the route to accommodate the need to find a bathroom without adding extra mileage onto the run.
  5. A good point that a friend had said years ago, when making a route “TOP” load it with kilometers. Which means to put more mileage at the beginning of the route opposed to at the end of the route when all you can think about is getting the run over and done with. When the end is near it is truly a nice feeling to know that most of the mileage is behind you. This can be a little refreshing and give you that extra push of effort at the end of the run.
  6. Longer distances during hot weather it is very important to be able to stop and get more water, either at a gas station or a small store. Some runners leave a vehicle out on the route somewhere with the back filled with water, snacks etc. Don’t forget to carry cash and a debit card if you will be stopping at a store to refill your hydration needs.
  7. I print off a pace band with the distance and the desired pace for each km marker, this really helps me to stay focus and to hit the pace targets for each km. I normally go to or by a google search of race pace calculators and the above site of comes up as first choice always for me, it is very user friendly as you have so many distance choices, you can also make the choice in miles or kilometers, and seeing that I am Canadian and I pick Kilometers as it is what I know and understand when I am running.
  8. Friends that are able to join in at different distances to keep you company during the higher mileage runs. You have a run of 32kms to run, but you don’t want to run it alone and your friends are not training for a full marathon, so they don’t want to be running a full 32kms with you, but would love to run 10-15kms with you. So making up routes where friends can join in is another challenge in planning a route, depending on the route and where the friends live and when and where they can join in can be either easy or it can be a little creative in the planning. It is always a welcome when friends can join in the fun of training with others.

These are just a few ideas that I think about when planning my routes for running.

Reading for 26km Run

January 3, 2015:

Our route is planned, the time is set to start the run at 6:30am in the dark of winter. The sun doesn’t come up till 8am. My weather app shows all week long that we are going to have rain on Saturday.

Saturday wasn’t raining, and the temperature overnight went below 0 which means freezing has occurred overnight, the roads were slippery as they were covered with ice from the rain the day before and then the sudden drop in the temperature resulted in the roads being very slippery for our run.

Our run right from the first step that we took, we knew it was going to be a slow and easy run with no injuries from any slip and fall that may occur.

The route that I planned was amazing, yes it was challenging in some sections with the hills and the ice on most of the roads. But we managed to have a good run by running on sidewalks that were not icy and main roads that had been de-iced overnight either with salt or whatever else our city uses to melt the ice.

Considering all the walking we had to do on one of the side roads due to the ice that was covering the road, we still managed to finished our 26.5km run in 3:14:59 under normal weather conditions I was hoping to finish our run in or very near to 2:51:10 which would have been an overall average of 6:35/km. So with our finish time of 3:14:59 our overall average time was 7:21/km.

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All running articles and training plans say to run your Long Slow Distance at a much slower pace than your race pace. It varies from what I have read from 1 minute to 2 minutes slower the race pace. In the end it all just boils down to time on the legs. Training plans have changed with people over the years, mixing in different paces during the distance. Adding in your MGP (marathon goal pace). Darn those words are always scary to me.

These are just a few things that I do when making a route with a group of runners, what are some ideas that you consider when making up longer running route plans? Please share as I would love to hear from you.

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