And it’s my long run day….a day of putting in the miles and learning to stay on my feet for hours…effortlessly. Today it’s 28 kms to be run in 3 hours.
In the off-training season, I love my long easy runs. A long road, an agenda-less run, not a care of the paces – it’s a romance of a kind. You run with friends and chat up the entire time or run solo and slowly slip into a flow.
Oh, but this romance quickly fades away when this long run becomes a part of the marathon training plan!
Here’s the why.
If you’ve read my first blog in my marathon training series, you’ll know that for most runners the biggest fear in running is – injury. In the training runs, the time on feet can go up to 3-4 hours. and even if you have been smart enough to not run them fast, you will still grapple with recovery from such long hours on the road. A long run is not over without its recovery! The Romeo needs his Juliet! Or Romeo will die! The long run is incomplete without the recovery or the runner will enter a new week tired and slowly slip into an injury. And what I missed writing before is that ‘building up mileage’ means that there will be weeks and weeks of solid mileage. Eating well, eating enough, drinking enough water, resting my legs, taking a nap, laughing enough, staying calm inside – all this is recovery.
And for years, I’ve never given myself any recovery from my long runs. I would run as early as 4 am ( which meant I woke up at least 45 minutes before), come back home from a 2.5-3 hour run, bathe, eat, and pretend as if NOTHING happened. The kids would wake up to a nicely showered mom. The long runs fall on the weekends, which also means that my kids would be ready to make the most of the weekend.
We’ve done it all on my long run days – right from their birthday celebrations, to heritage walks in Delhi, to organizing family brunches at home, to making day trips to the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary. Honestly, I’ve been very happy with this kind of functioning. I’ve ended the day crashing into deep sleep and feeling very good about getting in a good run and letting the kids have the weekend they wanted.
But pretending like nothing happened…one training cycle after another, takes a toll on the body, the training, and then I know am not very far from an injury. It’s taken me a while to understand this and for the last 2 years at least, I’ve tried to give myself the TLC called Recovery.
So when I left home for my long run today, I was mentally prepared for a lot. I was going to run 3 hours after a year and two injuries. I had spent Friday afternoon lining up work and kids things in a way that I get Saturday free for both run and recovery at least till 4 pm.
Amateur runners have the best time management skills! We have a massive life beyond our run life and we have a massive training plan within our run life!
I ran on the Golf Course Road which is full of runners. And I ran the first 70 minutes with a runner friend. We spoke about everything – longevity, the obsession with reverse aging, what success looked like to both of us, what were our weekends going to look like and our roasting ourselves over our insane intake of sweets this winter season. It’s a different joy to be able to share thoughts without filtering them with a friend.
If you are still here and reading, I’ll take you through the next 110 minutes while I sipped on electrolytes, ate mini chocolates, and slowly and steadily kept running.
- I made sure my effort was in control. I’ve learnt to take a good hard look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture here is to train week after week to get to the start line of the race. Honestly, I like growing up in some ways. It makes my life less complicated
- I felt mild discomfort in my right underfoot at the 120 minute mark. I tried to keep my landing in control and told myself – Don’t think too much.
- I thought of my mother. She gave me many gifts, but these two are the best – her determination and focus! Many decades back she was a state badminton player and she was also a UPSC Mains finalist. She’s been sporty, and active and while her health fell off the wagon for a long time, she pulled herself out of it again with her determination. She loves to see me running and loves to see my runs-stats. If she ever sees falling paces in my run-data, she quickly checks on what went wrong – I love my alpha mom!
- At 2 hours, 30 minutes…I had a smile on my face. I was now thirty minutes away from finishing the toughest run of the week. There was a spring in my stride.
I had done 28.3k in 3 hours at a pace of 6.21. It felt super easy the first 2 hours and then it did take some effort to finish the last one hour.
Post the run, a few runners came to say Hi. Honestly, I love it when people reach out to me and ask me – if am Wellthyfit… !!!! A runner by the name of Kusum excitedly told me everything she had figured out about me through Instagram!!! I love the real-life interactions sparked by my social media presence.
I sat in the car, devoured a sandwich in less than 3 seconds, drank some more electrolytes, and drove back home!
My legs were tired. My head had enough of the cold winds on the open roads of Gurgaon, my nose had frozen to a red tip and all I wanted to do was crawl into my bed! A shower and screaming from chaffing later, I drank a big mug of chocolate milk and passed out for an hour!
That afternoon, I sat in my bed and gave out sessions to my students. My kids ignored me exactly till 3.59 PM and then my mom-life took over! I tried my best to hide inside my large blanket, but I had been found, and was dragged out for a trip of dim-sums and hot chocolate!
Tomorrow I’ll run 10 kms and end this week with a mileage of 88.6 kms.
For the next week, which is week 3 of training…am going to crush 92 kms. This training plan has been like no other I’ve executed! Will I break? Will I build? There’s only one way to find out!
PS – My coach, Alfredo Mirando, left his nuggets of wisdom on marathon training in a blog post here – A MUST READ for every marathoner.