When you’re a runner, there’s nothing more foundational to your training than a weekly long run. They are key to building strength and letting your body slowly adapt to greater distances. They are crucial when you’re an endurance runner.
Countless Saturdays these past months have found me out on the road in the wee hours of the morning. Seriously, what sane person is out at 5:30, leaving behind a perfectly warm bed to go out running ? My long runs have tapered down to my races recently and although I’ll be doing my 50K on the 28th, I’m not putting in any crazy long runs before then.
I am planning a long (ish) run for Saturday, you know, something in the double digits ? 😉
Is it weird that I want to see those numbers show up on my watch ? even in my last race when it was over 10 miles I remember thinking… “yay, double digits, now we’re getting somewhere”.
I’ve gotten to a point though that I really look forward to them. Some nights I’ve been so hyped up I’ve had a hard time sleeping ’cause I’m playing the route out in my head. I look forward to them ’cause on their own they singularly offer a new weekly challenge to me.
Long runs are so
life sucking empowering for me.
Long runs have also carved out the most intense discipline in my life. It takes a lot to leave your bed and put yourself out on the road to be prepared to go…. in the dark…the cold…….the misty drizzle…. or know you’ll most likely encounter rain before you finish. So many weekly variables to the long run. To understand that what you’re about to do is crucial to your success as a runner mentally and physically.
But let me tell you about what goes down once I’m out.
I live in the hill country so it’s always dark and very quiet when I leave. I take my music but never use it until the last few miles and by that time, it’s nice and bright out 😉
I take off and let my body slowly wake up and settle into the rhythm of the run.
If you’re a runner, you know what I mean. It’s this zone you just get your body in.
The only sounds I hear are my feet hitting the road and the soft sound of my breathing. If I’m lucky, sometimes, the sky is bright with stars or the moon, and it’s the most awesome, amazing, privilege to be out then. It makes me feel so very, very small and once again, in awe of our Creator and creation. One morning I saw four shooting stars…. silent, swift, and quiet streaking across the dark sky.. at that point… you don’t miss your bed at all.
All I can think is…. “If I was in bed I woulda MISSED that!”
I pass houses, dark and silent, the owners still tucked into bed, dogs not let out yet, single quiet porch or night lights still on. There’s a part of me that feels rather accomplished at that point for being out there, already having miles under me.
The night sky gradually leaves as the new day pushes into existence. If I’m fortunate, I also get to watch a glorious sunrise too.
You know that term “break of dawn” ?
It’s a real thing. It happens. But usually we are either inside, busy, or not really paying attention to see it, to actually even notice because it’s swift and fleeting.
Yet, when you are on the road, running, it’s all in front of you. A front row seat to the new days arrival.
It’s that soft subtle move that changes the last glimpse of night, to day time. Blink and you miss it.
Long runs also give me time to think, process, or mull over ideas. I often get some of my most creative thoughts as I pound out that pavement. Oh yeah, and the therapeutic aspect at times can’t be beat.
By the time the sun is rising in the sky and people are getting out I’m closing in on finishing my run. I’ve usually popped music in to kick me a little more into high gear. I remind myself I get bragging rights when I finish 😉 and coffee…. yes, a little caffeine too…. I’ve earned it…..so glad my Starbucks peeps love me messy in running gear as much as when I’m all girly again…
Finally, the last couple miles are in sight….. the finish line.
Depending on the distance, my legs could be asking…. “are we there yet ?” Knowing the end is so close, I dig in deeper to push it all the way (it’s just…..evil…… in the last 1/4 mile I’ve gotta pull this hill that seems to sometimes get taller in front of my eyes 😉
And then, I’m finished, hours after leaving my comfy bed.
I’m tired. Sweaty. Hair dripping. A proverbial hot running mess.
Long run done and as always, I feel freaking victorious.