Embracing the Long Run

let me be entirely honest with you: the reason i’m not sure i’m going to run the Mohawk Hudson Marathon in a few weeks is because i just didn’t put in the work. oh, sure, i committed to running regularly, but when it came to pushing myself to run more than 13 miles and adding on the mileage each week, i dug in my heels and stubbornly, tiredly refused to do it.

it’s so easy to come up with excuses for hard things in life, isn’t it? i certainly mastered that this summer when it came to my training. it was hot. well, it was! my legs were sore. i had shin splints (okay, so that one was justified and set me back a bit.) my stomach was upset a lot. i was traveling allll the time. i mean, who wants to run 18 miles in Santa Barbara? i sure didn’t. i wanted to drink wine and run leisurely short runs on beautiful beaches. no brainer, thankyouverymuch.

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so really, what i have to admit to myself, is that i just didn’t want this that badly. the last time i trained for a marathon, this time in 2013, i realllllly wanted it. it somehow felt a little easier, i think — or maybe that’s just hindsight talking, or selective memory — but this time, even though i’m actually in the best physical shape i feel like i’ve been in in years, i just didn’t do it. i think i was sick and tired of being sore and settled for what was comfortable: pushing myself to long runs that were just long enough, without requiring me to keep pushing through the really rough spots and keeping my eye on the goal of preparing for this race.

these thoughts have been bubbling around inside my head since Saturday, when i bucked up and ran my longest run of this “training” thus far: 17 miles. to be honest, i didn’t think i could do it — okay, i didn’t think i wanted to do it — but it really wasn’t as bad as i expected. and boy, was i excited about it afterwards, and of course now want to push myself to do at least 20 this weekend in hopes that this October marathon still miiiiight happen for me.

Factors that made this long run — the longest i’ve done in, like, two years — a success for me:

  • the weather. it was gorgeous out, finally. no humidity complaints this time!
  • a new route. i ran up to the George Washington Bridge for the first time, which was exactly 8 miles from my apartment, and loved the path up in Washington Heights. plus, i stumbled across a darling Little Red Lighthouse (famous, apparently, but i hadn’t heard of it) at the very end, which was the perfect spot at which to turn around.FullSizeRender
  • running into an old friend — literally! Liz & i went to college together and i bumped into her on the West Side path, also doing a 16-mile training run for the NYC marathon, so she kindly turned around and ran with me, which was amazing. it was totally God intervening for me, because i bumped into her RIGHT before i hit mile 13, which is my notorious stopping point, and running with her pushed me to do my last 4 miles. thanks, girl!
  • water & fuel. i drank SO MUCH water on this run, and had some Powerade electrolyte powder in my little water bottle from the get-go, which i kept diluting at every water fountain along the way rather than drink too much of it in the beginning, as i like to have more water early on in my long runs and switch to sports drinks halfway through. i also took some Gatorade chews with me (review: i had fruit punch and i reallllly liked them), which i haven’t done in, like, a year. i think this helped sustain me.
  • let go of time. my legs have been so sore so much this summer that i knew if i pushed myself and worried about my pace, i was going to a) focus incessantly on what hurt, and b) psych myself out, get upset and probably start walking — at, like, ya know, mile 13. πŸ™‚ this was by no means a fast run, but i was just focused on getting the miles in. so what if it takes me longer to run a marathon than i’d like? i don’t want to get wrapped up in that, when i’ve spent all summer uncertain as to whether or not i even have it in me to run it.
  • passion. when it felt really hard, i tried to think about the things i’m most passionate about in my life, and what it means to work hard at something to get the results you want. iΒ  wrestled with myself a bit and questioned just how badly i wanted to do this, and how much discomfort i was willing to put up with. i’m still not quite sure i have that answer — maybe trying to run 20 miles this upcoming weekend will help with that — but it gave me the chance to dwell on some other passions/artistic pursuits i am working toward, so i count all this reflection as time well spent.

i finished those 17 miles with a very happy heart (and a bleeding heel, but nbd) and so much gratitude for being strong & healthy enough to have accomplished that, and it set me on a high for the rest of the weekend. i just love how running can do that for you — especially a long run — and how it makes you want to come back for more, even when it hurts.

so, where does this leave me? will i run the marathon? i’m really not quite sure…but regardless, i’m stoked i chose to keep pushing myself in this last leg of the training — because even if i decide not to run this 26.2, i’m more than happy knowing i still had a 17er in me this summer. it’s nice to be able to surprise yourself now and then, isn’t it?

& i, for one, really love surprises.

Runfriends: How was running this weekend? Any long runs to brag/whine about?
Tell me something great from your weekend!

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14 thoughts on “Embracing the Long Run

  1. Wait just a minute. Did you just run 17 miles this weekend? And you are worried about not being ready for an October marathon?!?!?! OMG SISTER – YOU ARE TOTALLY CAPABLE! Remember – the body will do whatever the mind tells it to. So tell your body to bust out a 20 this weekend and maybe next weekend if you have time and RUN IT! You can do it!! You are a freaking rockstar!

  2. Here’s the thing: are you capable? yes. But should you run the marathon? That is up to you. I say don’t run it because you feel that you SHOULD. Marathons are a helluva lot of stress to put our bodies under and through. Run the miles because you want to, not because you have to. I love marathons. I love the training. I want to run that marathon and that long run and do that training. Maybe find another half to do instead? But if you think that you aren’t capable, I can tell you I know quite a few people who have run good marathons on 16 miles as their longest run. So just decide where your head is at, and let it be as it will be.

    • this reflects my thoughts exactly — we are on the same page here. i came to terms with all of this during my 17-miler and i have total peace about not running it if i just don’t feel like i want to put my body through that. voice of reason. πŸ™‚

  3. This is so awesome to hear!! I’m definitely in the same boat with you on not loving the long long runs and that’s why even though I’m still doing them, I haven’t been pushing myself to the goals I used to have. And I’m ready to be done!!! And I’m so glad you discovered the lighthouse! πŸ™‚ Good luck on your 20! xoxo

  4. Good for you. I have heard about that lighthouse. I can’t imagine training for a full. I have enough problems squeezing in time for a half.

    If you do do it, just tone it down so that you do’t wind up injured afterwards.

  5. Running is 99% mental toughness. It is so hard to stick out those runs that you are just not feeling. You absolutely rocked it and I’m so glad you rode that post long-run high. You deserve it!

  6. HOT DAMN 17 miles is so legit. That is something to be so proud of, and I can completely understand the lack of desire to run any further. That is precisely why I haven’t signed up for a marathon. I know one day I’ll want it, but not enough yet.

  7. I love running to the Little Red Lighthouse. I have to get Mary that book when we are in town next week. I love the entire path on the west side but there is something special about those miles up north. You start to feel like you are outside of the city. I truly appreciate your honesty about not being into the marathon or training. It happens and that is totally okay. A marathon is a huge commitment.

    • it was so adorable! i’m going to do it again this weekend. such a lovely run. love that you’re getting her the book! i totally agree with your sentiments about the miles up north, and although i wish i’d traversed them sooner, i’m stoked to explore them more. πŸ™‚

  8. I find myself thinking these things as I train too…I don’t want it as much as I thought I did. I haven’t been bit by the running bug yet. I definitely blame the weather + the stress from studying for my exam all summer but August/Sept I really have no excuse except the heat. Now I’m anxious about the whole 26 mile thing. But I’m just going to keep up the training as best I can and just TRY. I don’t blame you at all for wanting to experience CA without the pressure of an 18 miler haha wine and beaches seem way more tempting πŸ™‚ I hope you’re able to still conquer the beast, though!

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