There’s seriously nothing like a long run on my calendar. It’s an attainable, but stretchable goal. It sits there as the pinnacle at the start of my week. The good start that sends me rushing into the week on the back of that elusive runner’s high.
Not that I’ve ever had an actual runner’s high. But the elation that comes as the exhaustion drops away? It’s the buzz I need in this life.
I’m a curious balance of excited and anxious all week. Excited to boost my mileage and get more comfortable at longer distances. Anxious about how my lifting will impact the run. I refuse to quit my lifting routine, but I do cut my weights back the day before a run. I cut lifting before my last race and I think that’s part of why it went so terribly wrong. I won’t do that to myself again. Lifting, and lifting heavy, is a big part of my health both mentally and physically.
The night before I’m all nerves. I drink a glass of wine to calm myself down. And then another. And then worry about being hungover off of two glasses of wine. I’ve run hungover before but it wasn’t pretty or fun.
The morning of my long run starts with nerves. The perfect timing of coffee, food, water, and let’s face it the bathroom. A slow warm up, dynamic stretches, and getting my devices to find the satellites. All with the dogs barking out the window wanting to know why they can’t come too.
Finally, all too soon and after way too long, my feet hit the pavement. Stride after stride, I check my breathing. Not too fast, I’ve a long way to go and don’t want to run out of energy. Not too slow, that’s often harder in the long run (sorry) than too fast.
In for three, out for two and before I know it I’m not counting my breaths anymore. Step after step everything else just drifts away. I find my zen where I’m not constantly checking how many miles are left (the answer, always .10 miles less than the last time you looked).
The aftermath is as beautiful as it is ugly. Sweaty, crusty, and exhausted I stretch and roll my achy hips and legs. I gulp at my water while marveling at how much easier the long runs seem this time around. My pace stays much steadier, I don’t feel completely dead after, and I’m already planning the next time out.
I’m not sure when running became my way of life. But it is. And long runs are my church. They ground me, they refresh me, they help me find my center. Some days I don’t recognize myself anymore, but then I just go on a long run and find that I’ve been there all along.