The long run

In my progress towards a half marathon, which I’m running in just 11 days’ time, one part of training has been to extend my longest runs. Previously, the farthest I’d run had been 10k, or 6.2 miles, but the half marathon is twice that distance, so gradually, over the weeks, I saw my longest run achievement edge up from there to the half marathon distance of 13.1 miles, or around 21k.

As I set out for that full distance run last week, I was feeling relieved that it would be the last time I had to cover a really long distance on a training run, not least because it would take me around 3 hours. I was also feeling that half marathon was really too long, and I preferred 10k distance for races.

By the time I was halfway round, I began to feel that I’d really, really miss those long runs when the half marathon was done.

Yesterday I ran only 8 miles. Yes, I said only. I’m tapering down now, so as I have to miss parkrun on Saturday, on Sunday it will be 6.2, as part of a virtual 10k race, and next Tuesday I’ll probably only do 3 miles or so, and not run on Thursday or Saturday at all, in preparation for the HM on the Sunday.

So now I find I feel cheated. Only 8 miles. Only an hour and a half. I’ve got quicker over the time, thankfully, but I still run slowly enough to have a couple of days of panic after the furore at the weekend where a runner was pulled from a race for being too slow, until the fallout from it convinced me that I’d be okay and that what happened was exceptional and not approved of by the majority of the running community.

Last night I found myself checking interesting marathons that were coming up on my timeline – Bath, where 4k of it is through railway tunnels. The New Forest, an area I’ve always loved. Bedgebury Forest, trail running not too far from home. It’s far too early to be considering any marathon, of course; I haven’t even completed a half marathon yet (but those races mentioned also have half marathon versions, the little voice whispers). But it does seem that the long distance bug has bitten well and truly, and having discovered the pleasure of going out for a full morning’s run and covering the miles around my local area, I consider it likely that I’ll keep going even after this race is out of the way. While the shorter, faster races generally hold little appeal, perhaps because I know I’m highly unlikely to achieve the sort of speed that most do, the longer distances definitely do call to me.

I often draw the parallel between my running and my writing, and I feel that applies here too; short stories really don’t appeal to me. They don’t have enough meat on the bones for me to get stuck in. But novel writing – yeah, that I can handle. The in-depth, longer story, with multiple characters and plotlines. A project that’s definitely for the long-haul.

I briefly considered giving up my writing recently. Was there any point? Was I ever going to produce anything worthwhile? Looking back at what I’ve written so far was reassuring; no prize winner, but sound for what it was. I’m enjoying the process. I’m learning from it. And in the end, that’s all I can ask from anything, whether it’s planning and writing a novel or training for and running a long-distance race.

And will I ever run a marathon? Who knows, but at the moment the little voice on my shoulder seems to think I will.

 

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5 Comments

  1. You don’t have to miss the long runs after your Half Marathon, but will be able to plan long runs just for fun – not as ‘training’. I love those sort of long runs: usually off-road and with stops to admire the view, take photos, check a map, etc, all without thinking about the time. When not training I love these long runs, I don’t do them ever week (which is less pressure) but every 2 or 3 weeks, and often pour over maps, studying kind distance footpaths or walking routes to plan 15-25km runs.

    Reply
    • I have to admit that I’m enjoying the long dog walks I’ve been building up to as the dog gets older. We love exploring the footpaths and finding new routes. I haven’t tried running footpaths yet, but it’s not out of the question. And the best thing about the long runs I’ve been doing is that without a set route to follow I’ve been able to look down a road and decided on the spot to divert down there to look at something. And it will be nice not to worry about time and run/walk ratio.

      Reply
  2. Oops autocorrect! That’s long distance footpaths.

    Reply
  3. Hooray for another long run addict. I did 7.7 miles around the 4 mile club run last night and sooooo enjoyed it – I’m at my happiest after I’ve been going an hour. I really dislike 10k as I have just got going when you have to stop, meanwhile I’ve been slower than everyone else, but not all of them can carry on going like I (we) can. Enjoy your taper as much as you can – good to be sensible. After a running rest week last week I was so full of beans for the run last night, which should be good evidence of the benefit of tapering!

    Reply
    • Yes, I’ve noticed that it takes me a while to get into the run, but once I’m there I can just keep going. I haven’t raced above 10k yet, so can’t really speak for 10k v HM as a race distance, but I’ve been enjoying the longer runs more and more.

      Reply

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