I will be clear at the beginning only : this post is a rambling about the weekly long runs. It will though have instructional value too!
Marathon and races beyond that distances are tough on the body and mind. Before the body mostly it is the mind which buckles down first. The body takes care of itself if the mind is trained adequately. The distance is daunting. Running for a long period of time on weekends i.e one hour, two, or six or twenty four hours or more seems formidable but it is just a part of the journey, which is training for the race. The long run training makes it possible to run races of insane distances.
Sometimes I wonder why does this long run help me in the final day. There are many scientific explanations about the benefits of weekly long runs.
- Because of the continuous movement, the heart gets stronger by boosting blood flow to legs, hands and core muscles.
- Our lungs get stronger due to continuous inhaling and exhaling of oxygen.
- Endurance and muscle strength increase as the mitochondria and capillaries get dense to compensate for the increased physical exertion.
- Stomach gets smarter in handling food and liquid on the go with all the blood splashing around.
- Temperature regulating mechanism gets efficient in handling heat and cold.
- Body gets efficient in using fat as fuel other than the stored glycogen.
But the biggest help long run does is mental preparedness. I ran a 100 km race in 2015. My long runs in the final couple of months ranged from 30-50 km. As time went by, the long runs got less monotonous and my body became more efficient in recovering from those hard runs.
On the race day, when I crossed the 50 km mark(it was the longest distance I ran during the training), I felt confident to run the rest of the distance.The psychological change the long run did was unmatched!
People ask me whether do I get bored while running so long or not? Well, the answer is I only think about my pace, form, nutrition, hydration etc. I am very comfortable in my head that ways. Yes, sometimes I do like to zone out. I like the meditative state but then it affects my pace.
I try and pay attention to how I feel during the run and about other aspects. Thinking about these things help me pass time. It’s like doing my job which I really like. And I don’t listen to music while running. Not that I don’t like music but the dangling earphones irritate me.
But then I recently read a review by Tanya, a blogger and runner friend, where she talks about this awesome jacket by Cvox, which has inbuilt headphones. How cool is that! I will definitely get one for myself.
There are times in life when stress levels are skyrocketing. Whether be it job, family or anything else. But sometimes, I think of random things while running.
Nowadays, I think a lot about my mother. She died in 2015. It pains to think about the circumstances in which she left us. I regret that I never had a chance to show my gratitude for whatever she did for me. But I don’t stay sad for long. That’s the beauty of the long run.
Long run is painful but very satisfying. It makes me stronger and calmer. It also makes me sleepy during office hours 😉 ! The soreness after the long run is like a drug, which is very addictive. When you are walking around or to put it correctly, when you hobble around in the office, only you know the feat you have achieved early in the morning. You feel like a super hero wherein you only know what you are! The feeling is unmatched and if by mistake someone asks about our miserable condition, we talk about it casually to see their eyebrows raise. Priceless!!
I always say that if you have the chance to run only once a week, then make it the long run. It is the most important run.
I will do a post shortly on types of long runs soon. Stay tuned.
Till then stay fit and keep running.
What do you think when you are on a long run?
Do you listen to music and what kind?