Marathon Training: Long Runs and Daydreams

It’s late August. That means children are headed back to school and runners are ramping up their mileage in preparation for the fall half marathon and marathon season. Many of my running friends are dealing with the fact that the race they so signed up for back in the early days of summer, (when anything was possible and they ‘needed a goal dammit’), is fast approaching. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

I started ramping up my training this week with lots of 6 and 7-mile runs. Today a pushed a bit longer and covered nearly 10 in the high humidity and heat here in New Hampshire. I’m training for the Rockfest Half Marathon in early October. I haven’t run that far since training for Boston last year and it’s humbling to say the least.

My long runs seem to have 4 distinct phases: the warm up miles, the “holy crap this is going to take forever miles,” the delightfully abstract miles I can’t remember, and the final struggle to make it home. Sometimes, I fight against the miles and have to remind myself that I enjoy being a runner. Other times, I fall into a trance and the miles just fly by.

Running with a 46 year-old frame means warming up slowly. I can’t leave the house at full speed. If I look at my runs on Strava everyone of them starts out with a first mile that pulls my pace-per-mile stat down for the entire run. On the upside, I usually run negative splits. But, those first miles take patience when you know you have a long way to go.

By the time you hit 3 or 4 miles of your long run, you brain understands just how far you have to go. It starts to bug you with a thousand reasons why this run is a bad idea. What’s that tightness in my hamstring? Did I drink enough water? This road is really dangerous with all the weekend beach traffic. Why 10, why not 6?

Then, something wonderful happens. You stop thinking about running and your mind wanders off to play. Random thoughts percolate to the surface for inspection and further reflection. I think I’ll grow some grapes behind the barn next spring. How will I deal with that asshole at work? Who should I contact about remodeling the bathroom? What’s for dinner tonight? Soon, you discover that the miles have slipped by like drunken memories and your at mile 8.

Here comes the hard part. Two hilly miles without tree cover. The sweat tickles your nose as it drips onto the pavement. You check your form and remind yourself to keep on keepin’ on. After all, you made it this far. It would be terribly disappointing to stop now. Two miles becomes one, one becomes a half, a half becomes a series of mail boxes you know by heart.

You did it. I did it. We did it. The long run is done. Another awaits next week. But, for now, enjoy the afterglow and revel in the fact that you’re one step closer to becoming the runner you knew you would be when you signed up for that fall marathon.

5 Ways to Bust a Running Rut and Find Love on the Run

Tina ran a marathon in 2014. It took all of her free time and every ounce of energy to accomplish that goal. She woke up early to log miles before sending the children off to school and going to work each day. She followed her training plan with a level of discipline that would bring a tear to the eye of even the most formidable drill sergeant. Her passion knew no bounds, and her motivation to complete the marathon turned her running into something more meaningful than mere exercise or sport. The marathon became her Everest. It was a chance to prove that new frontiers can be conquered after forty.

Now, two years later, she’s still running. But, it’s not so easy. These days it takes a lot more convincing to get out the door. Sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. Epic race events, injuries, seasonal changes, new friendships, and new jobs can all have an adverse effect on our running. It’s during these transition points that many runners leave the sport altogether.

The first sign is the rut. A time when running feels more like work than play, and you start to wonder if you need it anymore. After all, if it’s not fun, there are plenty of other things to do instead. Fun is the key to running longevity. Here are five ways to rekindle your running passion and find love on the run.

5 Proven Running Rut Busters

 

Make it Social

Running alone makes the miles seem longer. Find a friend, a family member, or a pet to keep you company. Running can spark surprisingly candid conversations between friends and give husbands and wives a chance to reconnect. If you don’t have family and friends nearby, check out your local running scene for clubs and group runs. At the very least, consider engaging on Twitter or Facebook with other runners. The camaraderie and encouragement you get from the running community can be a powerful incentive to keep going.

Plan a Race Calendar

Some runners are motivated by competition. If your race calendar is empty, consider adding some races. Adding a 5K or half marathon to your race calendar is a great way to find purpose in your weekly runs. Races not only rejuvenate the running spirit, they also provide a great venue to interact with other runners and be part of the local running scene.

running dad father's day gift

Half Marathon Father-Daughter Relay! Now that’s fun! Dad said so…

Get Creative

If you’re like most runners, you probably have a GPS watch strapped to your wrist. Try spicing things up with a little GPS running art. See how creative you can be and share your original works of art for others to appreciate. The fun of creating a new design will make the miles fly by.

Explore New Places

Runners are creatures of habit. We usually end up running a handful of local routes hundreds of times each year. To inject and little excitement into your runs try exploring new places. take your run to the trails or the parks. Visit the local track. Or, just drive someplace new for a change of scenery.

Mix it Up

You may be a half marathon specialist. Or, maybe you like to rock the 5K. To spark a little interest and keep things fresh, consider mixing up your race distance. Try shifting to a faster gear for shorter races or building up your endurance to tackle a longer race. The change in training will not only make you a stronger runner, but it will help you rekindle your passion for running.