09 23 2014.

check-in: the long run

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After swimming the .9 mile leg at the Rev3 Tri in Old Orchard Beach, I noted that my swim was much more enjoyable at that distance than it had been for the 1/3 mile swims I had done in the weeks before.

I’m beginning to find that the same is true for my runs. My “long runs” have been packing way more of a positive punch for me than my “short ones.” Though my long runs are nothing compared to those dubbed during marathon training (13-22 miles), I consider any run of mine longer than 4-5 miles to be aptly named. Next year, while I train for a marathon, I expect this naming convention to change drastically.

The thing is, these longer runs have been the best. I’ve moved to a point in my running where I’m just extremely comfortable. (Sidenote: I know comfortable probably isn’t a good thing, but for the time being – while I’m trying to build mileage – I’ll take it!) Once I get past the first mile or two and my breathing becomes regular, I can just keep running and running. My runs don’t really start until that point.

So what is it about these “long runs” that rock?

  • After a mile or two of running, my breathing becomes so relaxed, I can now breathe in and out through my nose – at an 8:30 pace!
  • I am my own cheerleader. I root for myself mentally while I run. I’m always looking on the bright side and reciting encouraging statements to myself. The moment I allow myself to think negative thoughts is the exact moment that a run goes sour. I’ve avoided any kind of negative energy on my (long) runs for a few weeks now.
  • On January 28, 2013, I ran my first 5k distance ever (on a treadmill). I shed a few tears when I saw the mileage jump from 3.0 to 3.1 miles. I was so proud of myself. Knowing how much easier it is to reach 3.1+ miles now, I realize how far I’ve come. It’s during these longer runs that I am most appreciative of that progress.
  • Any mile beyond a “short run” is a prize. It’s extra time that I get to think and plan and rejoice.
  • My long runs allow me to explore. I never run the same route twice – on purpose. I love to mix it up, see new streets, discover new sections of town. It’s nearly impossible for me to get to know my streets well as a driver or passenger. I never truly got to know my hometown and work town until I started running in them.
  • In addition to the amount of thinking I get done during these hour+ runs, I also have plenty of time to not think. Every day, all day, I’m constantly thinking. My brain is firing ideas and suggestions and solutions. (That’s the graphic designer’s life summed up into few words.) My long runs allow me time and space from thinking. I listen to the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, match my breathing to my steps, and just clear my mind. It’s so relaxing and peaceful. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the absence of thinking quite on that level before.
  • This one’s kind of funny – but running has actually made me better at math! Sometimes when I run I calculate my pace and translate that into longer distances. I also challenge myself to calculate my distance in kilometers, which has become so much easier over time!
  • And perhaps the best of all. A long run gives me a great excuse to eat just a little bit more dinner later.

I’m also really excited to say that I think I’ve found my marathon! I had just accepted that I’d run the Maine Marathon since the start is less than a mile from my apartment – but I’d also heard that it’s a tough one and not really all that scenic. (The last thing I want to do is run my weekly work commute for my first marathon!) So after a little bit of searching, I’ve decided that, after all of the training that I’ll be doing, I deserve to get to travel! Now, I can’t afford to hop on a plane in the name of running – though I guess a lot of people pick great destinations for their first 26.2 – but I shifted my search outside of Maine a little bit. To New Hampshire. I love love love New Hampshire. I’m in love with the White Mountains and the beautiful crispness of the state. And I found a gorgeous course! The Manchester City Marathon. That’s my race!


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