Longer than a half-marathon, but not as long as a marathon it's a great next step for someone like myself who has run multiple half-marathons, met a goal PB and now, looking for a new challenge.
I'm writing this reflection post now (though I have been thinking on it for a few weeks) as we've just passed a new threshold. I keep saying "we" as I am running most of my runs with my sole sister whom I will be running the race with, Lisa.
|16km in my neck of the woods|
|A very cold, windy 22km- still smiling|
|gorgeous, sunny, 24km1|
Our long run training runs have now gotten into the distances that give us automatic PRs, farther than we've ever gone before. Before this training schedule our furthest distances were half-marathons. Last weekend we ran 22km- longer than a half, but not by much. This weekend (yesterday) we ran 24km. Wow. It's truly incredible what the body is capable of.
I'd like to share the lessons I've learned, and better understood, as a result of this training plan so far.
1. There's no such thing as bad weather, only soft people.
I've never done any formal training for a race in the winter before. Usually my winter running is maintenance miles and mostly treadmill miles. I knew the saying, I accepted that I must be a "soft person" then because I hate being cold, and the wind and the snow, no thanks! BUT, I continue to find no matter how cold or miserable I've been outside during the day (hello yard duty, bleh) once I get all dressed for a run and head out I find the weather become irrelevant and not such a big hurdle as I had thought.
Sure, weather adds a new challenge and certainly can increase the difficulty, but that just leaves me with a greater feeling of accomplishment, strength and preparedness because hey! race day can't be THAT bad, right?
2. If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go with a friend.
I have cherished the time together with my training partner Lisa. She's an extremely busy woman who gives of herself tirelessly. She's a principal, french teacher, kindergarten teacher, mother, sister, daughter, wife etc. Whenever we spend time together she's busy doing multiple things at once. Except when we run. Sure, she will pick up the phone if a family member calls, but for the most part there are no distractions, just the two of us and the road.
I have mixed feelings each week as we plan out of long run. Part of me dreads it. I know the time and physical toll it's going to take on my body. I know it's winter, its cold, we usually run Friday night after work which often means more of our run is in the dark than in the daylight. But I know as soon as I am done I will grab her in a great embrace, we will waddle into the house, put our legs up the wall and giggle as we are filled with pride and the feeling of accomplishment.
We've been through quite the conditions, cold, wind, driving snow, thick snow covered roads, oncoming traffic, slushy wet roads, you name it, we've had it. We've both had runs where our tummies don't agree with us, and runs where our entire body says "i'm tired. this week had taken it's toll on me". We walk when we need to, we take pit stops when we need to, and we slather voltaren before bed like it's going out of style. We love texting each other the next day over our different muscles who have decided to protest.
When you choose to walk it can feel like defeat on your own, but when you choose to walk with a friend you feel like you're putting that person first, knowing they are pushing through not to let you down, afraid to admit the need to allow the body a reprieve. It's always easier to take care of a friend before acknowledging our own needs.
Both our respective mothers have expressed their displeasure with us running this far, in this weather, at night in the dark but have admitted that the only thing giving them peace of mind is that we've done it together.
I could not have done this alone.
I've actually fallen in love with winter running. There's a beautiful simplicity in the preparation. It's a bit of an oxymoron as packing my gym back for an after school long run means ramming a whole bunch of items in, but it completely takes the thought out of capris vs shorts vs pants and tshirt vs tank vs long sleeve vs sweater etc. If it's winter, it's cold. I'm packing thermal tights, my overpants, long sleeve shirt, sweater, jacket, mitts, hat and 2 buffs. I don't have to think about it, I just have to put on "everything I own" (so the expression goes, of course it's not true, I've got running gear for days) and go.