A couple of days ago, I was updating my running log and noticed that my cumulative distance for the month so far was 26.2 miles.

I tweeted it, mentioning that my cumulative time spent running that distance was 5:02:53, but my twitter followers are mostly not runners, and I don’t think any of them realized that, to a runner, 26.2 miles is a round number—the distance of the modern marathon.

It’s good for me to see that my short runs do accumulate to some significant miles. It’s been three weeks since I upped my long run to 3 miles, and I’ve started to get pretty anxious to stretch it out to 4 miles. But I once before pushed up my long runs a little too quickly at just about this point (so I could run in a 5.5 mile trail race), and in the process hurt my Achilles tendon—an injury that took more than 6 months to heal. Any little thing to motivate me to keep running the same distance until I’m ready to handle longer distances is good.

I am still boosting my overall distance, I’m just doing so very slowly. My weekly mileage for the last three weeks was 8.5, 8.8, and 8.9 miles. I’ve done 6.1 miles already this week, and will probably crack 9 miles (although I might not, because the forecast high for Thursday is 102℉, and I may just take a rest day).

Longer long runs will come. Just not quite yet.

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4 thoughts on “Marathon distance

  1. Do you have tips (or a post) on how to go from non-runner to loving running? I’ve googled it, but I’m wondering how you did it. (I’m assuming you were previously a non-runner, though I don’t really know that….)

  2. I can tell you about my own path to running, although I’m not sure it will serve as much as a model for anyone else.

    I was initially interested in running for exercise for two reasons. First, because it’s very efficient—you can get all the aerobic exercise you need for a day in just 20 minutes or so. Second, because I wanted the capability—I figured sometimes it’s handy to be able to run, and the only way to develop and maintain that capability is to run.

    What I didn’t know was that running would be fun.

    Except—and this is key—running isn’t fun at the start. Running only starts to be fun when you get pretty good at it. Until you can run for 30 or 40 minutes—a level of fitness that might take weeks or months to achieve, if you’re in poor condition to start with—running is no fun at all.

    When I first started running, I couldn’t run a quarter of a mile. I spent weeks during which I’d run as far as I could—for 5, 6, 7, minutes—and then just walk until I’d gone a mile or so. Gradually, the fraction of the route that I’d run grew and I didn’t have to walk as much.

    Then, about the time I could run for 12 minutes, I discovered that I’d turned a corner. Once I could run for 12 minutes, I could run 20 minutes. Until then, my heart and lungs couldn’t quite keep up—I’d build up an oxygen deficit each minute, until I had to slow down. But at some point—and for me it was when I could run 12 minutes—my cardiovascular capacity provided what I needed to run. It quit being the limiting factor. After that, the limiting factor was my legs instead. I didn’t get out of breath, but my legs got tired and sore.

    Until then, running was mostly just drudgery. The only reason I was able to stick with it, was that it only took a few minutes, after which I figured I’d gotten all the exercise that I needed to get.

    After that, and especially starting just a few weeks later, as my legs got stronger, I suddenly started to really enjoy the runs. I started being able to get some variety—some days I’d run further than usual, other days I’d run faster than usual. I started being able to run other places—after work, in the neighborhood of the office, or on a trail at a park.

    That’s when I started loving running—when I got in good enough shape that it didn’t require that I make a maximum effort every time I went out for a run.

    Oh, and I think the endocannabinoids played a part as well.

  3. Couple things jump out at me from your comment (and BTW, thanks for such a detailed comment):

    1) It’s efficient: I love me efficiency. If I can get the benefits for less time/work, that’s awesome.

    2) It’s fun: I’ve always dreaded running–because of the drudgery you mentioned–but having met so many folks who genuinely enjoyed running, I figured there must be some truth in what they’re saying. It’s interesting that you mention it too.

    And one additional comment:

    Will always talks about audio books as the reason he gets any exercise or does household chores. Apparently, a good audio book will get you outside and walking/exercising for hours on end; though I really only need it to get me going for about 30-60 minutes a day. He says he actually looks forward to exercise time because that’s when he can listen to the next chapter in the audio book he’s currently working through.

    Do you listen to anything on your runs?

  4. I usually don’t listen to music when I run outdoors, just because I enjoy the running so much and the music distracts me.

    I’m hoping, though, that music (or podcasts) will make it possible to run on the treadmill, once it gets too cold to run outdoors.

    I’ve never been successful at continuing to run after the weather gets cold. Maybe, with the right audio accompaniment, I’ll be able to put in the time on the treadmill this winter.

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