Anatomy of a Long Run

Yesterday I had a fairly typical long slow run (LSR). I usually save my weekly long run for Saturday or Sunday, and with the weather being like it has, I tend to go out in the afternoon when it’s warmed up a bit. Yesterday, it was absolutely gorgeous outside and I decided I was going to head out for 10 miles or 2 hours, whichever came first.

I have a lot of time to think during these LSRs, and during yesterday’s run, I found myself analyzing the typical course of an LSR. I have a feeling this will ring true for many of you too.

First mile: Muscles are tight. My legs feel like they weigh 100 lbs, and my gait is uneasy and feels unnatural.

Mile 2: I’m getting warmed up and starting to settle into a natural stride.

Miles 3-6: I feel like a running goddess. I imagine my hair billowing behind me as I run. I reach a little zen-like state and the endorphins kick in. In reality, I’m looking a hot mess. Literally. Red-faced, hot and sweaty, with my hair a messy nest of headbands, hair elastics and bobby pins. [Maybe those bangs weren’t such a good idea…]

Miles 7-8: The run starts to feel more like work. I realize how hot I am. I swig some Gatorade, hoping the sugar will get me through the last miles.

Mile 9: I’m use logic now to keep myself running. I tell myself that it’ll be over quicker if I just keep running. Toward the end of the mile, my mental willpower dies and I slow to a walk. After 10 seconds, I realize it hurts more to walk. So I take off running.

Mile 10: My body hurts now. Usually my right knee, sometimes my right ankle. Each step is fueled by willpower — that Gatorade boost long gone. I will myself to run to the next street sign before I check my Garmin. Then I tell myself I can’t check my Garmin until this song is over. Finally, the magic watch shows 10 miles. But being the overachiever I am, I decide I must go hard for 1 more minute. When the magic time comes, I punch the stop button on my Garmin and slow to a walk. Mission accomplished!

My endorphin kick is long gone by this point. My feet hurt, and I take my shoes off so I can walk the two blocks home in my socks.

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