I’m discovering the mental aspects to running long, have become the most fascinating part of marathon training. Today’s training run would be 19 miles. Longest yet. I had selected the coolest, least humid day of the week – and couldn’t be more thankful that global warming has altered our typical hot-n-steamy summer — into something actually bearable.
By 6:15AM I slammed down my smoothie energy drink – spinach, kale, protein, berries and banana – and did my best to rush the digestion process. Had to get this show started by 7AM at the latest.
People ask me – “Where do you train for these long distances?” – and as much as I would like to say – “hey – today I ran to California and back” (yes, that would be embellishing!) — the truth is – that I just run a bunch of neighborhood roads over and over and over — until the miles pile up. I’m rarely more than 4 miles from my home – and typically within 2 miles of a grocery store (equipped with bathrooms, cold water and a freezer section in case I need to cool down). Today, I opted to do my first 13 miles –never more than 2 miles from home. Two miles out. Two miles back. Over and over….until 13 is reached. Mentally, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. It’s amazing what scenery you don’t seem to notice…until you have passed it the umpteenth time. At reaching mile 11 – this was time to stop, inhale a few packets of honey – and make a phone call. A call to my dedicated bike support crew of 1 – Paddy. Get ready to meet me – with more water, and a banana.
Mentally I consider 6 miles to be ‘no big deal’. Especially, when I train on the easy days and am only running 6 miles. So, I reason, that on a day where I need to run the big 19 — that the last 6 miles – is mentally framed ‘no big deal miles’. Upon meeting up with my bike support crew of 1, Paddy asked “How do you feel?” I wanted to say something positive – but “I’m a bit tired today” was the honest answer. I must have looked it. Paddy normally stays well ahead of me – but today, he stayed close. After I refilled my water bottles, and consumed a few more packets of honey – we were off. Three miles outbound – at one step at a time, one mile at a time. My feet were feeling especially heavy, and I tried to play upbeat tunes in my mind. Stopped briefly for a few bites of banana at mile 16 – and confirmed an intense buildup of lactic acid in my legs. They were locking up. But I can’t think about that. I had to keep them moving, and landing as lightly as I could muster. We are returning back now – 3 miles to go. Heading home. That is all that motivated me. As I rounded the final corner in my home neighborhood – I looked at my Garmin and pressed STOP. It registered 19.1 miles – and was flashing “New Record”. Rock on!!