For those of you who have been reading my posts with some regularity you will know I have been a runner for a long time. My “long” runs have always been limited to 3-4 miles because of injury or fear of injury. If I reread all of my journals over the past two decades I am sure I would stumble across one or two entries which indicated I ran a 6-miler. That was it. To a long distance runner this is laughable.
This past September I worked toward and successfully completed my first half-marathon. Years ago it had always been a goal of mine to run a full-marathon. This goal evaporated over the years as did my hope for ever running consistently and without injury.
When I began running again last September I kept telling myself still had no desire to run a full marathon. In fact much of the time I ran without a watch. I needed to break the habit I had of watching the minutes tick by, hoping to shave a few seconds off my time. I began to run based on how I felt. If I felt like running faster, I did. If I felt like running longer, I did that too. The love of running which I had fostered over the years began to slowly return. I looked forward to slipping on my running shoes and “going for a run.” My love progressed and with it I began to slowly develop running goals. The thought of completing a full marathon was now beginning to flash before my eyes. This same thought began to occupy more and more of my waking thoughts.
Since completing the half marathon I have had time to reflect on the full marathon, the state of my running, my training and the fear which I continued to harbor for that distance. As I reexamined my goals and my baseless fears I realize or maybe admit is a more accurate word to a returning desire to run a full marathon. I have recently become intrigued by those “crazy” running zealots also referred to as “ultra-runners.” I think this is in part to my personality and woven into my DNA. I have always pushed to accomplish more than those around me. When I raced bicycles, I looked forward to the 100-plus mile weekend rides which liberated me from the everyday crap which held me firmly glued to reality.
As it stands I have several runs over 10-miles under my belt. Every time I decide to tackle a run of this distance or better I notice improvement. This past Saturday I decided to venture out for a run of at least 15-miles. As I ran I changed my route. This route had less traffic and more solitude than did the first. When I completed the run almost three hours later I looked at my watch it indicated I had run a distance of 16.42 miles. Other than my thighs feeling as though they had been beaten with a stick, I felt great. The accompanying tiredness and post long-run depression which followed later in the day was not much fun. I recalled what I had accomplished and smiled as I took another step toward my “new” goal. I showered, took a brief nap and headed to the kitchen to restock the fuel reserves which had been so badly depleted.
I am at the point with my running where I have finally decided to consult a coach. I have done this through a friend who had accompanied me on many of those century plus bike rides who could never keep up with me. We won’t be running together anytime soon because while he can’t ride he could kick my ass in any footrace. We spoke of his training program and predictably he has his 2012 racing calendar already filled. He smartly trains for those races. I, on the other hand have simply risen in the morning and “gone out for a run.” My program worked for me with the goals I had at the time or more aptly the lack of goals which I did not have. Now I want to improve. I want to get faster but more importantly I want to increase my distances, run a full marathon and begin to peer into the precipice which is called “ultra-running.”
I have grown into a smarter runner, a runner who better understands and respects the need for adequate rest and the importance of proper nutrition. I have run for 14-months with only one injury. I am not arrogant enough to think if I do too much too son an injury will be right around the corner but I am impressed with my progress over the past 14-months.
I know if I keep my goals realistic and get out on the roads and trails everyday improvement will follow.