This past Sunday I ran my farthest run ever! I met up with Kate, Martin, Daniel, and Julie at Montgomery Middle School at 8:30am (Brennan was out of town 😦 ). It was a beautiful winter morning: sunny for once, as Sundays should be, 20-25 degrees, with minimal wind. Martin had mapped 17 miles, but I wan’t quite up for that…so I gmap-pedomedered (a new verb, by the way) a 13.1-miler, cutting off a loop in the middle. I thought breaking away from them at that point would work out well, since he and Kate were planning on doing 7 miles at 7:20 around then, which I also was not ready for. However…we missed an integral turn very early on in the run, and ended up adding on a couple miles. Once we reached the canal, we reassessed…they ended up running something similar to my original plan, which would now equate to 15-16 due to our mistake. I decided to turn early on Canal Rd. to run up tothe Griggstown Causeway (I love the word “causeway” – makes me think of going somewhere exciting). The towpath wasn’t an option – it was covered in 5-6 inches of uneven snow. Running through that for 3 miles would make me grumpy, not to mention frozen.
I got into a good rhythm once I waved Martin and Kate off on their extra loop. I checked in with my form via the circular mirrors on the side of the road meant for cars coming out of driveways, which was neat. I felt strong for the whole rest of the run, save for some noticeable tightness in my right Achilles/lower calf. Back at the parking lot, my watch read 1:57:xx. There’s no reason I shouldn’t run two hours! I thought. So, I ran a couple laps around the lot until my watch said the magic numbers: 2:00:00. I walked around and stretched, satisfyingly tired. Longest run ever! What a feeling! It would’ve been great to run with others for the entire run, but the company for the first seven was great! When I got home, I mapped the route I ended up running, and it came to 15.23 miles, putting me at an average of 7:52/mile! I secretly hate when I map a long run and it ends up being significantly over 8:00 pace when it didn’t feel like it was. I was pleased with this.
During the run, I asked myself, What am I doing differently? referring to the past four years in college, in regards to running. I think I’ve got it: Each night, I’m not worrying about injuring a specific body part more than any other. That is, I’m not letting any pain or ache get to the point where it could turn into a real injury. Normally, if I say, “my hip’s bothering me,” for example, it usually means I’ve already developed a stress fracture. That is why I have to be so incredible careful with my training. After a long run or a hard workout that leaves me wondering if it will push me over the edge and leave me injured, I ask myself, “If you could ice one thing right now, what would it be?” and it takes me more than five seconds to think of what to ice, I’m fine. That’s not to say aches and pains aren’t inevitable, but how you respond to it is very important. Catching them early and taking extra precautions (e.g., cross training for two days instead of one or none, hopping on a precautionary rehab routine along with your regular resistance training) is key. I am (hopefully) starting to respond to hard training as a “normal” runner does. I like it.