I love the long run. There is nothing quite like it. All long distance runners can list off a whole host of reasons why they LOVE long runs. Yes, it may be painful at times. By the end, you are counting down the kms, the minutes, the stop lights, until you can finally stop running, but oh, none of us would want to lose the ability to run long runs. My running buddy, who has no race goals planned at the moment, joins me for my Boston training runs for the sheer joy of it. He says he is being altruistic, helping me to attain my goals, but I think he truly loves the long runs, and I am simply an excuse for him to get out there for 2.5 hours, exploring the city streets and trails.
When I tell my non-marathoner friends that I am planning on a 30+ km run for the next day, their eyes widen and a look of confusion appears. Why would anyone run for over 2 hours? How can you even possibly run for that long? Here are the amazing facts about the long run:
- Your Body Is Miraculous: It is incredible what you can train your body to do. While once 15 min of running was a challenge, after consistent training, you can run for hours without stopping. It is incredible to see your body adapting and becoming stronger. The knowledge that your body is now a much superior cardiovascular machine to what it once was is enough to keep you going. You can do so much more than you ever thought possible, if you only keep challenging yourself and persist in your goals. Your body is miraculous.
- You Experience Flow: That unique experience when you are “in the zone”. The world feels right and your mind clears and you can think straight. You feel challenged and yet at the same time competent and like you can conquer this thing…this long run. The stress melts away and you are fully present and enjoying all that is around you. The joy of being alive and well and in this very moment are the overwhelming emotions that you experience. I think we all need moments like that, away from the stress of work and home. This is achieved when you push yourself to new limits in the long run.
- You Get New Ideas: With that clear mind and the time to think uninterrupted (a rare occurrence for most parents), suddenly new innovative ideas have time to percolate and rise to the surface. These are not the random thoughts that you have in the middle of the night that sound ridiculous come morning, but rather new creative ideas. Sometimes I solve problems suddenly or think up a new idea altogether that I actually end up putting into action.
- You Connect with Friends: A long run is a great time to connect with other like-minded friends. Two hours or more to talk and hear each others stories is a pleasure. You definitely get to know your running partners well and a deep friendship forms. In our hectic lives, it is amazing to have quality time with training buddies and support and encourage one another.
Long runs are obviously excellent for your physical health. The bonus is that they are just as excellent for your mental health and bring such joy to your life. Share some of your long run joys below! What are some of your unique long run experiences?