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.


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