Yesterday was my weekly Athleta long run – and we’re already up to 7 miles! Time flies when you’re with a good group like this one; it’s hard to believe that we are already more than halfway done with the training plan. Every week is a new challenge in terms of being a longer run than the week before, but I’m glad that everyone seems to feel comfortable with the 1 mile increments for increases. It helps so much to be able to tell everyone that we’re doing juts one more mile than the week before!
Of course, to keep things fresh, I’m trying to mix up the routes we take. Whereas last week for 6 miles we did basically a full loop of the park, yesterday I started introducing my group to hills in a non-threatening way: by having us head around the reservoir, down the big Harlem Hill at the end of the park, but then exit the park instead of having to go back uphill. (As it turned out, heading across from Central Park to Riverside Drive had a pretty significant uphill as well, but somehow it seemed a little less intimidating than heading down the West Side from the top of Central Park). And once we reached the river around mile 4? Flat and easy for the whole second half of our run – perfect.
Unfortunately, what wasn’t perfect was the way I was feeling. On Saturday night, I went with Jocelyn for what was supposed to be just one drink. Since we went out at 6:30pm, I figured I’d come home and make a healthy dinner afterward. Instead, I ended up out till close to midnight without eating… at which point I thought it was a good idea to order loaded nachos with chicken (you know, for protein). Unfortunately, what I forgot is that my stomach does not well tolerate super heavy food like that (especially when it’s already filled with four pints of heavy 10-12% ABV beers)… and so I woke up feeling pretty full and gross. I felt perfectly functional as far as mental capacity and chatting, but when it came to the bouncing motion of running, my tummy was not enjoying it.
In an attempt to ease the pain, I slowed my pace to bring up the back of the pack. One of our group members was having some knee problems that were slowing her down, so for the last three miles, we alternated between running and walking. She kept apologizing to me for “slowing [me] down”, and while I tried to assure her that this pace was just fine, I think she didn’t believe me, because she kept apologizing and telling me to go on ahead.
Friends! Let me explain this again. Your long run is your long run. It is not your hill run. It is not your speed run. If you can run your long run up a mountain and at a fast pace, more power to you – but the point of the long run is just to get your body used to the number of miles you do, whether you’re walking or running them. (And in fact, if you’re walking them, you’re on your feet longer than the person who is running them, so you deserve just as much credit). On your long run day, it really does not matter what pace you do – it just matters that you finish the requisite miles.
After we finished our 7 mile run, I skipped brunch – I still was not feeling so great. But on the plus side, my foot injury seemd to have cleared up entirely! No pain at all, and I was thrilled. (See how magical the power of taking it easy can be?) I felt like I hadn’t really gotten my sweat on that much, but I had covered the miles I set out to cover – and that was what was important.
And when I saw Theodora’s tweet that she was having trouble getting motivation to go running, I was ready to pounce – and offered to meet up with her in the park. We covered another 6 miles (at an easy 10:30 happy pace) before finishing at 16 Handles for a blogger playdate with Jocelyn, Celia, Theodora, Lauren, Christy, Leticia, and Emily. Fro yo all around! I was thrilled that my tummy was finally feeling empty enough to handle my delicious concoction, and even more thrilled that I had managed to get in 13.3 miles of running – all at paces easy enough that I have absolutely no soreness today. Sometimes, the easy way is the best way – especially when it comes to avoiding injuries.
Of course there are some days when you have to do some speedwork, or when you’re just not feeling a run. Everyone needs to find their own balance of pushing themselves to do miles when their heart (metaphorically) isn’t feeling the workout they had planned. However, I think anyone training for a race would do themselves a huge favor to remember to listen to their bodies, and do what feels right from that perspective. If something hurts, try to ease up until it doesn’t – you’re only going to cause injuries by testing a joint/muscle until it breaks. To run happy, healthy, and for the rest of our lives, we need to remember that a mile is a mile is a mile, and that just covering the distance can be enough.
Personally, I am loving the fact that I covered a whopping 13.3 miles yesterday and have no soreness at all. They may not have been my fastest miles, but they still “count” – and even better, my silly foot seems to have recovered thanks to that bit of respite. No ice bath required!
*This has been a PSA for those of you who don’t always feel like doing my speedwork routine, and those who need to learn to take it easy*