Plantar fasciitis kept me from running for almost nine months. Can you see my pained grimace? A few sporadic attempts at comebacks during that time involved paltry 3-mile runs — which, compared with my beloved marathon training, barely qualified as runs. I am finally healthy and about to start marathon training again. I love marathon training, and especially long runs, with a deep passion. Here are 10 things I am looking forward to when the long run re-enters my life.
Pre-long run texting with girlfriends
I have a great group of running buddies. We generally do our long runs on Sunday which means at some point on Saturday evening, someone starts the text-a-thon. What time tomorrow? How long is everyone going? When and where should we meet? These texts are also when we find out about things like important family events, out-of-town travel, and other minutiae that bind us together as a group. Plus, the more nervous someone is, the goofier these texting sessions get. I am so excited to hear from my gang on Saturday nights.
Caring about the weather
If I am running 5-6 miles, things have to be pretty grim before I worry about weather conditions. I can survive an hour in just about anything. If I am going to be out there for two or three hours, though, weather matters. Sure, this is about steering around rain or blizzards, but caring about the weather makes me feel more in tune with what nature is up to. New England throws a lot of weather at us and long runs force me to pay attention in a deeper way.
I’m not sure why shelling out hard-earned cash for tiny flavored sugar packets is fun, but to me, it is. I often buy Gu at our local bike shop and I buy it in bulk to get the discount. This has the added bonus of making me feel like a real badass because the bike shop people always seem surprised at how much I want. Plus, if I am buying 24 Gu packets, I get to try whatever new flavors they have come up with. Ok, I am easily amused, but this injury meant I missed the introduction of the new S’mores flavor! Yum!
Bitching is always fair game, but it feels a little weak to bitch before an easy 5 miler. Bitching before 18 miles though – that’s satisfying.
Long run routes
Anything shorter than 10 miles and my gang and I fall back on some tried and true choices. We have loads of standard loops at this length that we do all the time. More than 10 miles, though, uses up nearly all of the roads in our small town so that calls for more creativity. We’re pushed to drive to the rail trail or run the hilly route through the orchards. These longer paths are more beautiful, but they don’t seem worth the drive for shorter outings. I am so excited to re-visit these places.
Long run conversations
What’s shared on the run, stays on the run. That means if someone is having real problems with a kid, a spouse, a parent, a boss — the long run is where we hash things out. These shared miles create a safe zone for advice and support. These are the miles that turn us into something closer to sisters than friends. On days when no one has anything much serious to discuss, this is also where talk gets extremely goof-ball. Sometimes the last few miles are just unfathomably inane and that’s fun too.
This happens more often on solo runs, but can occur with a close training partner as well. Talk ceases. The legs turn over and over and over. An imaginary path stretches out behind and ahead of me. It’s like floating or being suspended in air. It’s detachment. Some people find this by sitting still, but I find that bodily motion is what brings me mental calm.
Sometimes a long run feels best when it’s over.
Post-long run café trip
I hate that advertising slogan “Own the Drink Run,” but I love owning the café run. I used to head directly home after a long run, eager to return to my family and guilty about being gone. One day, my post-run recovery meal was a nuked low-cal enchilada hours after finishing my run because I had been dealing with kids from the second I walked in the door. Now I go directly to my favorite café. I get myself some kind of veggie and egg sandwich. And fancy lemonade. And fancy coffee. Plus, I call home and bring the family whatever they want. Bagels and brownies for lunch? Sure, why not. I own the café run and I love it.
Feeling of satisfaction
The rest of my day might be great, filled with friends and family and successfully-completed household chores. It might also be filled with random errands and a never-ending pile of laundry. If I start my day by running more than 10 miles, I’ll know I’ve accomplished something worthwhile, one way or another.
What do you love about the long run?