Sunday, July 10, 2011
Going the Distance
There is nothing I love more than a long run. When I started running last year, I never expected to enjoy distance running. I struggled to make it even 1.5 miles and assumed that I would build my distance up to a maximum of 3 or 4 miles. That's because I planned to use running as a form of exercise. However, as I fell more in love with running and started to sign up for races, my outlook changed. Once I registered for my first half marathon, I knew that I would have to learn to run longer distances. What I didn't expect was how much I would love distance running.
Shorter runs and intervals are fine and dandy and they serve a great purpose, but nothing gives me more pleasure than a good, long run. The longer the better. There's just something about the way I feel while I watch the miles go up on my garmin that makes it all so worth it. Not to mention the feeling I get when I finish a long run and feel the comfortable ache and tiredness in my legs. The rest of the day, I feel great because I know that if I accomplish nothing else, I can at least say that I ran X number of miles before most people were even out of bed.
I know that distance running is daunting for some, especially when you have never run more than 3 or 4 miles, but it really is attainable. It's all a matter of building up your endurance slowly. That's why I like Hal Higdon's half marathon training program. It gradually increases long runs each week so that you are only adding a mile at a time. Trust me, adding a mile every week or so is not difficult, and after a few weeks the mileage you are able to run will dramatically increase.
I can remember the first time I ran 10 miles. I was beaming by the end of the run. The feeling of accomplishment at the end was like nothing else. During the run I struggled, but I kept going and knew that I would be so proud of myself when I was done. After all, a large part of distance training is actually mental training. When you are training for a half marathon, you are not just developing physical endurance, you are also developing mental endurance. This is why I know that I will run a full marathon someday. As far as I'm concerned, it is just a matter of adding more miles and developing more self-confidence and mental endurance. It's a challenge I'm excited to take on.
This morning, I ran just under 8 miles (7.91) and I felt great. As I was finishing my run, I thought about how far I've come. A year ago, I could barely run 1.5 miles and today I ran almost 8 miles and it didn't even feel like a long run. My concept of distance running has completely changed. In the past, an 8 mile run seemed so out of reach. Now, it's a regular run for me. It's funny how that works.