I posed two questions yesterday and I got the type of answers I expected. You know, thoughtful.

Initially, though, I observe that Alex is wrong. One cannot equate “faster” and “better.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned on the running blogosphere, this is it.

Otherwise, the responses present a quite nice cross-section of views on the topic.

First the physical. One must prepare for these things, JT points out. Not only does this ease the burden of the long run, it gets the body accustomed to the focused nutrition that precedes the marathon (which is the race we’re ultimately talking about). And make sure you have rights to all the songs on your MP3 player. Hey, Julie, were you stuck on “Highway to Hell” on the road to Valhalla? (Here’s an idea: What is the worst song you could have stuck on your iPod for a 2 hour run? Going with the first thing that popped into my head, it’s “Afternoon Delight” but I’m sure I could do worse with some thought.)

Prep for the run during it. Check. More of a summer issue, as Alex says, and perhaps something you have to learn, as I did some years ago with a blow-up/melt-down in a 90+ degree, no water August 15-miler. Learned my lesson; either a FuelBelt (maybe I’ll try one of Flo’s hand-held) or a loop run with stops each lap for water and gels.

Running with a group can work, as I’ve started to do with WSSAC. The danger is that you can have a wide range of speeds. I’ve been fortunate in that Paul Thompson, the fastest in the group, is quite content to keep the pace civilized (he is a Brit after all, so that probably should be “civilised”); we’re a regular Jane Austen Running Club.*

Pace. This may be the heart of the matter. Robert straitens me out. I had thought his long-run paces were quicker than they are. As Herb points out, I am forever complaining about doing my runs too quickly. My defense: it’s the pace at which I feel comfortable. Of course there is also a bit of the mental, get-this-over-with aspect too. And as I’ve mentioned, I have tried to keep my easy runs easy, as by going without a watch.

The Head: This is the other heart, if you will. It is the strategies, the evolving strategies that seem so important. Turn it into a high-light and not a dreaded task. Don’t make it a do-or-die proposition, which just ups the pressure beforehand about it and perpetuates a downward spiral.

Let the run come. Use a weekly semi-long run to keep the week-end effort in perspective. And maintain in the back of thge mind the third of Charlie Spedding’s questions, “how much do I want it?”

OK, excellent suggestions all. And I am heartened, like Flo, with the fact that those of you who appear to do this so effortlessly, who make it look so easy have had to work hard to get there.

* I watched The Jane Austen Book Club the other day, hence this reference. I rather enjoyed it. (Back to text.)