Sunday, June 24, 2012

Loving the Long Runs

Our little family unit has been surprisingly busy, so I apologize for the silence on the blog.  I'm wrapping up week two of marathon training, and both weeks have been great, mostly because both weeks have concluded with a fantastic long run.

I'm loving my long runs.  Granted, these long runs have only been 8 miles and 9 miles respectively--distances I have run many times before--but they are longer than the 3-5 mile runs I do during the week.  On these short runs, I try to run fast and I try to run hard for the entire distance.  I run at a pace that pushes my heartrate between 172-175 bpm.  I am focused the whole time, thinking about my form, thinking about my cadence, checking my Garmin watch frequently.  I feel like a machine.

Ellie Greenwood: now this woman is a machine.
(just set CR at WS100!!) - img src

But frankly, I don't really like these runs.  I mean, I love running fast and I want to run faster, but these runs aren't easy.  Throughout the entire run there's an internal battle - one voice whining, "Please stop.  Please, this is so hard.  This isn't fun," and another voice commanding, "Stay strong!  You can do this!  This will make you a better, stronger runner!"

So far I've listened to the commanding voice, but that little whining voice is always there, nagging.  I have yet to figure out how to turn it off.  Or maybe it will always be there, I just need to learn to turn the volume down.

On my long runs, however, there is no whining voice.  In fact, there is also no commanding voice.  There is just my happy runner voice saying, "Yippee!  Two hours to myself!"

I run my long runs slow, and try to keep my heartrate between 158-160bpm, maxing at 165bpm.  I barely look at my watch on these runs.  My watch beeps at every mile, so I know how far I've run and how far I need to go.  My time doesn't matter.  My pace doesn't matter.  Its just me and my thoughts.  And lots and lots of trees.

This is running for the pure love of it.

The trail that I run on is also a popular training route for the local running club, so I pass a lot of runners varying in age and running experience.  I love passing the novice runner because they have such a determined look on their face to finish strong - so inspiring.  And I love passing the experienced runner because they usually look euphoric and so happy to be out there.   

I know I can't run slow and easy forever.  Or can I?  Running hard, running hills, focusing on form, etc. is important to becoming a faster, stronger runner.  But I think runs that make you blissfully happy are also important to becoming a better runner.  If running doesn't make you happy, why run?

So I think I will keep my current training approach: midweek runs will remain the hard, fast, hilly runs where I am focused and determined to hit my goals, while the weekend runs will be my slow long runs where I just prance along smiling, thankful I have the opportunity to be out there.  

How are you approaching your training this summer?

What kind of run do you prefer?  Long, slow runs?  Short, fast runs?  Some other variation?

Are you inspired by other runners you see when you are out on your runs?


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