I haven't run more than about 5.5 miles since having a hip issue following the 2010 Denver Rock n Roll half marathon.
During training for that race my hip would start hurting at the 6 mile mark but I got through it and finished the half in 2:03. Afterward, I made up my mind that I would just run for exercise and no more than 6 miles.
Then came a bike crash in July 2012 and I was running more than riding. This led to faster run times which meant shorter workouts when running less than 6 miles.
Fast-forward to yesterday. It was cold and rainy (remnants of hurricane Sandy) but I was determined to get in my lunch-time run. I logged onto Mapmyrun to find my usual 5 miler to make sure I was going the right way and noticed that I also had a 6 mile option plotted. I decided that I'd see how I felt at the 3 mile mark and then decide on the 5 or 6 mile route.
Now dressed and a little cold I started out a little fast to speed-up my warm up time. Within a mile I hit a Strava.com segment that I wanted to win so I sped up a little more knowing that I could ease into a long-run pace afterward (it didn't work, I missed it by 5 seconds). When I got to the 3 mile mark I was feeling good so I took the turn to get in the extra mile.
When I got back on the main route, 4 miles into the run, I wasn't sure that the route would end up being 6 miles so I took a route that I hadn't mapped out. Not knowing how far I was going to run sufficiently tricked my brain. I was even able to finish the last 400 meters in a near sprint. Checking my StravaRun app I was pleasantly surprised at the 6.7 miles at just over a 9 minute pace!!
I don't think I would have run as strong if I KNEW I was on a 7 mile route.
Lesson learned? Every now and then go off-the-map and just see what happens.