My hubby Bill and I just finished our longest run of the summer, a 13.7-miler. It felt like we were running directly into a dryer vent. Even though we started early, by the time we were done, it was hot. The air was so humid, it was absolutely saturated with small water droplets which soaked our clothes as we ran. After we finished, I looked like I had jumped into a swimming pool fully clothed.
This is fall marathon training in the Mid-Atlantic states.
Bill and I have an ongoing discussion that surfaced once again after our steamy slog today: keep running the longer races or focus exclusively on shorter runs?
We have been doing several 5Ks and 10Ks this spring and summer and we have enjoyed all of them immensely.
Shorter races are fun, there is no doubt about it. The logistics are easy, the training is less grueling, and the time commitment is minimal. You can run a 5K in the morning, then go on about your day without feeling as though your hamstrings might snap at any moment or you have to lower yourself onto the toilet slowly, very slowly.
Shorter races are less expensive, I often have a good chance of placing in my age group, and you can sign up on the spur of the moment. And yet…
And yet, I love the challenge and the discipline required to compete in the longer runs. Maybe I am an anomaly, but I feel better when I am following a training plan. I like the structure; I enjoy crossing the days off the calendar as they are completed; I feel satisfaction at hitting goal paces and completing distances that increase incrementally week-by-week.
Before I retired, I looked forward to having the time to train for long races on my own schedule. I now have the luxury of doing long runs mid-week. Hot, humid summer temperatures notwithstanding, if I want to do my long run at 9:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. or even 1:00 p.m. on a Tuesday, I can.
I know as I get older, I will slow down, that is inevitable. I still have running friends, however, who are 10, 15, 20 years older than I am and still running marathons. I have role models.
All of the reasons I have just spelled out for maintaining my long-distance running ability are true, but they are not the most important reason I want to keep doing long runs: I believe doing hard things matters.
Doing hard things is, well, it’s hard. It builds character, it promotes grit. I think we don’t have nearly enough grit in the world today. Marathon runners are nothing if they are not gritty. Marathon runners practically ooze grit.
Just like your mom told you when you were 13 and wanted to skip doing the extra credit homework or not make your bed with hospital corners – doing difficult things builds character.
Accomplishing demanding tasks promotes self-esteem and confidence. Even at my stage of life, I can use all the self-esteem and confidence I can get.
Doing hard things takes courage, it makes you step outside of your comfort zone, it makes you grow. Achieving the formidable erases doubts and calms anxieties. It makes you feel good about yourself.
I just got an email advertising the Ohiopyle Falls Challenge. It’s a 5K, 10K, and half marathon run over the course of two days in April 2020. The 5K and 10K start an hour apart on Saturday, then the half marathon is on Sunday.
It sounds hard. It sounds like fun. I want to do it.
What hard things are calling to you?
I am linking up with Running on the Fly and Confessions of a Mother Runner for their Weekly Rundown, Shank You Very Much for Global Blogging, Esme Salon for Senior Salon, Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, Bethere2day for Wordless Wednesday, Coach Debbie Runs for Coach’s Corner, and My Random Musings for Anything Goes.