I managed to knock out my first real “long” run in weeks on Saturday. 8 miles. Yes, 8 miles qualifies as a long run again for me right now. It’s not like I haven’t been running at all, but there’s been little spare time – or energy – for hour+ runs on the weekends (let alone weekdays). I managed a late evening 10-miler one Friday night back in early December, but that’s the only double-digit run I’ve been out on since the Chicago Marathon back on 10-10-10.
It’s normal to go through a period during the year when you cutback on your mileage somewhat, and allow your body a long recovery cycle. Most runners use the winter for that cycle anyway, since getting outside is not as fun in the weather.
Of course, my cutbacks have been forced upon me by my schedule, but I can see the benefits. I’ve been pleasantly surprised all season at how speedy my “easy” workouts have been. I like to run easy days by feel. I start at a gentle pace and after a mile or two I can tell from the splits on my watch how the rest of the run is going to go. Even though my runs the last 12 weeks have been mostly short, 4 or 5 mile efforts, I’ve been pleased about how many of them have settled into a brisk (for me) 8:20ish pace.
My 8-miler on Saturday wasn’t so quick – I intentionally dialed the pace down to just under 9 minute miles – but it was an easy, low-stress effort and my body felt good when I was done. (A far cry from the weary, run-down 4-miler I struggled through after a difficult week last Friday.) A treadmill isn’t the most scenic place to spend 75 minutes, but some podcasts got me through and it was nice to escape the single-digit cold outside.
I felt my spirits rising as I left the gym, my optimism for my running plans returning. And I felt a little lucky. Lucky to be able to dash off an easy 8-mile run like it was no big deal. Lucky to have the opportunity to do so just because I feel like it. With any luck, I'll feel the same way on the morning of July 30th, with 101 miles stretching out in front of me.
I heard on the radio this morning that Jack LaLanne, the original fitness guru, died on Sunday. I was not a follower of LaLanne, per se, but he began saying 75 years ago what we all consider common knowledge today. He was 96 years old, and still worked out a couple of hours every morning. He would say, “The only way to truly abuse your body is to not use it!” Makes a lot of sense to me. I’ll keep using mine until it’s done.