I started my day today with a long run; having that availability on a Monday is a perk of working for yourself. In Houston, I prefer to run along the Bayou. From the Heights I ran to Houston Ave. then head south to the Bayou. I head east then south to UH Downtown and hit the main bike/running path to head west to Memorial Park. Once I get to Memorial Park, I choose the number of loops or even which portion of the loop I need to run to match the mileage I want for the day. Today my goal was 20. To make things easier, I ran one direction around the loop until I reached ten total miles and then turned around, retracing my way back to the Heights. Two weeks ago, I ran 18 without any problem, but I did this in Austin, on good rest, and with balanced diet going in. Things like that matter when you plan to run so a long way. Today’s 20 was “just because”, as I have no races on the schedule. Today, I was put in my place.
The long run is an essential part of marathon training. To be a runner, you simply need to get out there and run; to be a marathoner, you must run 26.2 miles. Training for marathons you log many miles, but regardless of your weekly total, every week needs to feature a long run. These long runs challenge the body to endure, to maintain a pace over an extended period of time. Elite marathoners finish in just over two hours, while a good average-everyday-runner might shoot for closer to five hours and finally marathon course usually close eight hours after the last wave. Of course, there are many different breeds of runners all through that spectrum, with just as many factors enabling or disabling their run. My best is 3:17:09, while I have run most of my 13 marathons between 3:20 and 3:40.
Long runs for me are more than just a part of a training, they are often an adventure. Whether it be the route, restroom needs, fuel intake, or the people and places I see along the way. In addition to a physical challenge, it is a way for me to sort my thoughts, evaluate life’s equations and restore a since of balance to my mind. So this morning, when a tired, ill-prepared (sleep, hydration, nutrition) runner (me!!) found himself 18 miles into a run and still two miles from home, he walked. I had pushed his body far enough for one day and left it able to run another. Though my goal had been 20, without a specific race on the schedule and having already met my needs for an adventure, 18 was adventurous enough for today.