It’s a major part of every distance runner’s workout repetoire. The Long Run. Hours and hours of pounding the pavement in the hopes that every moment spent will lead to an amazing performance at the next race.
It’s tough. It’s boring. It’s a time suck. But it’s gotta get done.
People who know me well do not invite me out on Friday nights. They know that Saturday is my “Long Run Day” and that, by default, makes Friday night an early night in for me. I come home, put my pj’s on, eat some dinner and call it a night. Some people can go out and drink and get up and run. I am not one of those people. Maybe I’m getting too old.
At least I’m not too old for my long run.
Long runs aren’t races. Heck, they’re not even supposed to be all that hard except for the running-for-hours-and-hours part. You go out, you run and run and run and run and you’re tired when you get back, but when done properly in your training schedule and at the correct pace, you could have gone farther.
Example: me. I run my long runs around 8:15-8:30 usually. I run my marathons (recent ones) at about 8:00-8:10. If I find myself running sub-8:00 minute miles at the beginning of a long run, I immediately slow down. Not that it couldn’t just be that I am getting wicked fast, but I’d rather be wicked fast at the end than dying at the end of a run. If I am running sub-8:00 in the last quarter of my miles on a long run, more power to me and watch me fly! The idea is that my pace is such that I could have kept going. This is the key to long runs.
If you finish a 16 mile run and you know you could have kept going (even if it’s an absolutely-have-to kind of situation), you have prepared yourself mentally and physically for the next jump in distance: 18-20 miles. When you run 22 miles and realize at the end that you could have kept going, you are ready for the 26.2 on marathon day. And THAT is a great feeling.
This applies for all distances. I remember vividly my first 5-mile run freshman year of high school. I was amazed that I ran five miles without stopping and thought, “Hey, my two mile race doesn’t seem so bad now.” It was a great feeling.
So, yes, it’s a lot of time and energy spent on a Saturday morning when I’d really rather be sleeping in or watching a bad movie on the couch with JB. But it’s marathon season and it’s gotta be done. I’ll live and I will thank myself later for doing it.
You will, too.
Now go out and run!