I’ve set my garmin watch so that after 59 minutes and 59 seconds all is see are the hours and minutes. It’s curious that once I can’t see the seconds then I know I’m on a descent lengths run but more importantly I’ve transitioned into “time on my feet” which is necessary for both building strength and confidence.
A large part of running for me is to escape the pressures and expectations of life. Lets face it, they aren’t going away and naturally they are important but its great to put them on the back burner for a while. Not seeing the seconds flashing past has a calming effect !!
Stress in its many forms can be positive but time out is very important in getting that life balance which so many of us seek.
This Saturdays plan was for twenty miles and to be home by twelve noon. The twenty miles were in preparation for the Portsmouth Coastal marathon, twelve noon was quite simply for lunch with my family. It’s also worth saying here that its worth letting people know where you are running just in case a planned run doesn’t go to plan.
I kept my route simple, ten miles out and ten miles back with a mix of terrain both underfoot and in terms of elevation. The 600 feet elevation was an attempt to add an extra degree of effort which will help when running the flat marathon. The route was simply to enjoy the autumn colours.
The rain that greeted me for the first hour meant I could trial wearing a few layers as well as a jacket and cap. This might sound like overkill but it’s always good to assess how you feel with various combinations of kit and then you know what suits you on certain days. After all you need to know what’s comfortable if you are out for a while. Vaseline can also be helpful on friction points like toes and underarms 🙂
When I’m running for longer time periods I break it down into either time slots or landmarks that I’m aiming to reach, this way it all seems more achievable. Even the out and back approach means that would probably be an hour and three quarters out and the same back, which immediately sounds less than three and a half hours straight !!
Running for longer periods certainly helps me with my mental resilience, it’s laying down an experience that can be called upon in future weeks. I’ve also made a point of running a similar route but adding on additional miles form previous weeks i.e. 7 out and 7 back, then 9 and 9 and now 10 and 10.
As each hour ticks by I also find a growing level of self belief which in turn boosts your anticipation for the remainder of your run. Naturally this needs an even pace and in many cases a slower pace if you are extending the time you’ve been out previously.
Distance running is as much about mental belief as it is about pure pace.
Naturally where you are running ought to be inspiring because if you are committing yourself to a few hours then you want all of your senses to be rewarded.
I notice I smile more on longer runs because by definition there’s more to take in. This run brought me into contact with the beautiful autumn scenery as well as horse riders, mountain bikers, walkers and the occasional squirrel.
Having enough resources in terms of food and drink is important and I always include a “get out of jail card” such as a garage or local shop that I can pop into in the later stages of my run if required. This is were a good running vest comes into its own. I drink squash and combine it with SIS gels (orange) and SIS Go energy bars (banana fudge).
The waistcoat nature of a running vest means numerous pockets and easy access to your drinks. The majority of the time there’s no need to stop which is invaluable as I find continuous motion is much better than stops and starts. That said there’s always time for a photo of where I’ve been and not just the washing line which my vest was hanging on 🙂
People often say to me what do you think about, well, the very nature of being on the move means your surroundings are constantly changing so I alternated between quiet country lanes, muddy tracks, uphill, downhill, wet and dry weather conditions and then an occasional horse, along with like minded people who I see getting outdoors. All of which are thought provoking.
Distance running for a certain amount of time can almost become hypnotic especially on solo runs but I’m a strong believer that what you miss out on, conversation wise, you benefit with inner satisfaction when completing a long run on your own steam. That said having company does make the miles pass quicker.
Naturally everyone needs to build up their miles and even an extra mile a week with occasional shorter runs, to ease back, can help. Do what suits you.
One other factor when considering being out for a while is the mud that had collected on my trainers and the back of my legs which is always amusing to whoever might see me on the final tarmac mile and a half of my runs.
So in summary, a long run will help you sleep at night due to the efforts but you’ll also retire knowing that your mood has been lifted, your abilities improved, your confidence boosted and the knowledge that you can be proud of what you’ve achieved.
This achievement is time orientated but not necessarily the pace you ran at, its the time you were out for.