Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ode to the Long Run

On Saturday mornings my alarm rings between 6:45 and 7:30, depending on my plans for the day and the weather. I get up, use the bathroom, and make my way to the kitchen where I eat a banana and adjust to being awake. I check the clock when I finish, I need at least 20 minutes before I can head out the door. If it’s cold out I start getting dressed for my run in some combination of special underwear (I call them my runderwear), full length compression tights, socks, shoes, bra, tank/tee/long sleeve shirt, hoodie, gloves, and headband/hat. If it’s warm I waste some time first by reading or checking emails.



Once the clothing is set I make my way back to the kitchen to finish my prep. I put the bladder of water in my hydration vest, I check to make sure I have at least 2 dates wrapped in the pocket, I strap on my Garmin, and I plug my headphones into my phone. I eat a date about 5 minutes before I’m ready to leave. I visit the bathroom again (just being real, this is crucial for a long run!). I set up my running app, podcast, and metronome. I grab my sunglasses and head out the door.

The most effective warm up for me is five minutes of brisk walking. The energy is different in my neighborhood on a Saturday morning. It is quiet and still. There’s very little traffic. The dogs haven’t been let out for the day yet. I think of people in their houses sleeping and feel a sense of pride. Five minutes goes by quickly and then I am running. Slow. I am still in the neighborhood and wonder if people are watching and what they are thinking. The first mile is a drag. My body is still getting ready, trying to catch up to my mind. My mind is what pushes me through those first slow miles.



I choose my route based on the weather. Low visibility or slick roads leads me on a route of endless sidewalks. Sunshine gives me the freedom to run on mostly empty roads. I vacillate between distraction, struggle, meditative states, private pep talks, and pure bliss. I make sure to eat a date somewhere between miles 5 and 6 depending on how I feel. I savor that moment, taking small bites and letting the date dissolve slowly in my mouth. I take small sips of water between bites. I can feel the sugar hitting my brain and my muscles.

My watch and my app alert me as the miles go by. The mileage isn't usually the same, but the goal remains unchanged. My current goal is a half marathon on March 23rd, and I think about it while I run. I’m working on visualization and try to treat each long run as practice. Sometimes I eat another date or half date if I am feeling sluggish. Going slow is hard, and I usually let myself go for the last mile whether it’s mile 8 or 11. I am good at gauging my distances, and often hit my goal within a 3 minute walk of my house. I catch my breath and take time to reflect on the run.

I get home and greet Carly and Emmy. I update Carly on the run and anything interesting I observed (army drills, eagles, possums, horns honking, etc.). I mix a blend of water, coconut water and electrolyte powder. I make my way to our office where I take my time stretching, working on my core, and doing leg drains while I analyze the numbers from my run. By this time I am ready to strip off my run gear and shower, but always eat a homemade recovery bar first. I take my time in the shower and reflect more on my run. I usually feel amazing.



The last step of my routine is the reward. A smoothie bowl topped with granola and fresh fruit. The size of my bowl grows in proportion to the length of the run. This weekend was 11 miles. It was a big bowl. I eat it on the couch, feet up, with a guilty pleasure show on the TV. The perfect start to my weekend.



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