The Long Run

This is the last archive post – after this one I’ll be up to blogging about running in real time. The following post was written on August 17. Here we are, two months later, and I still prefer the long run. Although I must say, I did 11 miles on Saturday and it was the first long run that really felt like too much. In my Runkeeper notes from that day I said my legs fell off around mile 9 and I had to slither the rest of the way on my belly. I’m hoping I was just having an off day. We’ll find out soon enough – one more long run on the training schedule until 13.1 miles in my November race!

August 17, 2011
I’m beginning the 5th week of my half-marathon training program and I’ve learned something very surprising about myself. I like the long run. I like the long run better than the short, maintenance run. Who’d have thought?

The Galloway training plan I’m using calls for two thirty-minute maintenance runs during the week and one longer run on the weekend. The first long run was 3 miles, the next was 4, then 5, and today was 6 miles. The first two long runs were no big deal because I’d achieved those milestones before. But 5 and 6 miles seemed much bigger deals.

The day before the 5 mile run, I pulled Runkeeper up on my computer and began plotting a route. I decided to take the run out of the neighborhood for a change. It turns out that from my neighborhood to Forsyth Park is about 2 miles, so I chose that route. I knew I could run an extra lap around Forsyth to get the distance I needed before turning around and heading for home.

Then in the morning, I plugged in my headphones, fired up my Runkeeper app and my workout Pandora station and took off. Slow and steady, “I’ve got this,” I said.

Getting out of the neighborhood was great. Running into the city was great too, as landmarks seemed to tick quickly by and Forsyth Park was in front of me sooner than I’d expected. It was funny – at about 40 minutes into the run I was doing well and feeling strong with plenty of gas left in the tank. Then I realized how surprising that was considering I’d already run longer than my usual weekly maintenance runs – those runs that still seem hard for me.

So what’s the deal? My only explanation is that it’s a psychological thing. I went into my long run knowing it would be long. I wasn’t looking at the clock to see how much longer I had to run – instead I had a distance for a goal. I was running toward a physical location, not just looping around the neighborhood waiting for my thirty minutes to be up.

Today’s 6-mile run was no different. I planned my route the night before and found that a route from my neighborhood to Riverstreet was about 3 miles – perfect for the round trip. And running to Riverstreet? That just sounded like a long way from home, but in a good way. In an ambitious way.

The run seemed to go even faster once I passed Forsyth Park – each downtown square was a small victory and a beautiful backdrop for the run, and before I knew it I was standing on Bay Street looking at the river. I snapped this picture before moving on.

Riverstreet RunSure, my legs were tired and the last 15 minutes or so I was ready to be done, but the whole run was FUN. And my pace was no slower than my weekly maintenance runs – I should’ve been keeling over, but I wasn’t.

I don’t think I could do 13.1 miles right now – at least not run it and enjoy it. But I’m beginning to feel more optimistic about these upcoming races. There is still a big difference between 6 miles and 13.1, but it’s a good start.

Now – how to make these weekly maintenance runs more fun?

Leave a Reply