This morning I set out for a long, easy run with two goals: 1. Run for 3 hours and 2.Find the infamous suspension bridge at Bjørnsjøhelvete (the direct translation would be Bear lake hell)
A bit too much excitement
Today was a beautiful and dry day to run on roads, trails and in swamps, and I felt exhilarated and excited because I was going to run where I had never ran before for at least 50% of the training session. During my run I met small and big birds, a bunch of squirrels and an adder (N:huggorm) that I almost stepped on! Eguh!
Closing in on the suspension bridge, I took a wrong turn and came out of the deep forest and on to a beautiful trail on a small mountain ridge and even though I wanted to keep running on it something told me that it was the wrong way. Eirik had also told me that “If you run out onto this really beautiful place with lots of air around you, it’s a little too far”. I turned back, inspected the map on my Iphone and found a trail that did not even look like a trail in the begining. After a couple of minutes there it was! The suspension bridge with a roaring waterfall underneath. It was the perfect place for a little break (a.k.a photo shoot).
The bridge did not seem very solid at first, but after a little inspections I saw that the rods and bolts were quite secure, so I ventured out on the swinging bridge and continued my run on the other side of the river. The trail was more untouched on that side and I got a bit nervous when I heard gun shots higher up in the woods. It is indeed hunting season, and I don’t know if that’s what is was, but it was a bit scary to be honest.
My Long Run Tips
The purpose of the training is to increase peripheral aerobic properties, like muscular endurance capacity. Increased capillarization (more of the smallest blood vessels), increased mitochondria density (more energy producing “power stations”in the muscle cells) and increased ability by the the muscle-tendon system to endure certain training loads over time are some of the adaptations you get from long endurance sessions.
When it comes to running technique my movement focus changes with the different surfaces, but in general I think EASY, LIGHT and SMOOTH. This is something I picked up in the Born to Run-book and I think the words fit perfectly with this kind of training. Speaking for which, I have listened to that audiobook multiple times on these long runs and I warmly recommend it. It is a wonderful and interesting story, even if you are not into distance running.
There certainly are mental aspects to enduring such training sessions. Today was easy, but that’s not always the case. When the weather is shit, you are a bit tired or unmotivated it is helpful with something to take your mind of how long you actually have to stay out and complete a run. When going on a long session by myself I usually load up my phone with audiobooks and podcasts to listen to, because having to listen to what somebody is saying helps me keep the intensity down, which it should be on these long ones. I am getting a lot of bang for my buck here, because I am learning and expanding my mind and knowledge, and training at the same time!
Another thing I sometimes do on long runs is that I “save” the podcasts or the music for the second half of the training and pull them out if I get tired or a bit bored. That way I have a functional distraction from the time, distance or the tiredness. Music always gets my energy up and puts a spring in my step, and podcasts stimulates my creativity enormously.
The downside of listening to something is that I can get so carried away and I have been known to get lost on the extra long runs because I forget to pay attentions to signs and trails. A 2.5 hour run actually turned into a 5.5 hour run, because of this. I was so tired, but luckily has some left-over brownie in my drinking belt that saved my life!
Today I ran the whole 3 hours with out so much as a beat to my ear! First of all because I wanted to be alert and able to find my way to the bridge, and going back I ran in territory that was un known to me and wanted to stay alert there too. Especially when I heard shots being fired! It also felt good with the quietness of the forest with just the rythmical sound of my breath and feet, and it made me thing of nothing at all, which was kind of nice for a change. You should try it!
PS: Stay energized! To keep my energy up and reduce recovery time I use a sports drink with carbohydrate and electrolytes on sessions more than 90 minutes, and I bring a sports bar or another snack.