Learning to Love

Going into this round of marathon training, I knew there were a few things I needed to change if I wanted to see what I’m really capable of :

  1. probably train for more than a handful of weeks
  2. probably don’t dread and hate the weekly long runs (LR) with the fiery hatred of a million burning suns

Because the fact is, a big part of running a marathon is running for a long period of time.  Shocking.  Despite how much I can love the track, hills, and weekday recovery runs, if I continue hating on the LR I’m pretty much doomed to 10 weeks of misery.

So, I made a vow.  I’m going to learn to enjoy those hours of LR solitude.  And the early alarms, runger calorie binges , achey joints, PB Banana toasts, and non-existent social life that comes along with it.


Book & beer at home, and yes, we’re playing bingo. On a Saturday. Sober. No worries.

Photo cred : Margot

So, from all this sensible thinking about preventing suicidal tendencies during marathon training, a new venture was born :

Operation love Don’t Hate the Long Run.

This weekend was attempt #1.  While I can confidently say I’ve made steps in the right direction, I’m definitely not ready to throw the L-word around just yet.

I set out for 17 miles at a 8:45-9 pace.  Being so “goal-oriented” (sub other less-PC words as you please) I wanted to have a target to aim for, but didn’t want to obsess over my speed the whole time.  There’s a delicate balance between “ohhhh, who the F cares, I’m just runnnnnnning! Foreverrrr!” and “speed up! slow down! 2 sec off pace! charge the hill! put on the brakes! blahrahrhr”

Finding that balance is going to be the trick, I think.

So I ran.  I paid attention to what my legs felt like and what my body was telling me.    Every check in with Garmin was within range, and the pace felt manageable and easy.  Smooth sailing, right?


Buuuuuuuut that gets boring after a while.  Don’t you guys get bored?  It’s super monotonous and never-ending.  Plus, there are easily a MILLION other things I’d rather do for 2.5 hours than run.  Left foot right foot repeat, without any intermittent gratification (ie goal splits, etc) is about as smash-your-head-against-the-wall excruciating to me as it gets.

(Here is where my love for sprints, intervals, and hills becomes clear, and everyone questions why the F I’m running a marathon)

Picking a route with constant changes in scenery and little rollers helped, but I can’t tell you without crossing my fingers behind my back that my Debbie Downer didn’t come out to play for a while.  There’s some f-bomb litter I need to go back and pick up between miles 8-12, for sure.

At some point I decided I wanted to run the final three miles at or below “goal pace” (bunny ears – MGP is still an inherently imaginary number).  This actually helped break up the run A TON, for very different reasons.  Sunshiney, love running Sarah looked forward to the challenge, while debbie downer stabby Sarah desperately willed the newly shortened landmark and upcoming “hard work” to stay far far away.

But mile 14 came, I kicked the shit out of the last 3, and forgot about those sucky miles from earlier.  Long Run – DONE.

Oh, p.s. My legs liked MGP.  A LOT.  Best 3 miles of the run.  Just ps.

So if LR#1 wasn’t a complete Love success, what’d I learn from it?  That’s the trick, right?  Learning from your awesome failures.

I’m going to start putting something really terrible and dreadful at the end of every LR.  That’s my brilliant Love the LR plan.  That way I spend the whole run hoping I never get to the finish.  Like a really obnoxious song or a strawberry banana Gu or something.  Will report back on the effectiveness ASAP.

Oh and I also learned (/re-remembered) that I shouldn’t do anything super sweaty in my fav pink skirt.  Good thing I felt really cool at the time passing all those people.

Sarah OUaL


22 thoughts on “Learning to Love

  1. I felt just as cool in the light gray yoga pants I wore the other day. The yoga class wasn’t sweaty, but the 30-minutes on the spin bike before class was unexpectedly sweaty. I definitely rocked the “sweatshirt-around-the-waist” look before the class finally started.


  2. Do you listen to music when you run? Maybe try podcasts for long runs. NPR has some good ones – Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me is a personal fave – and since you like Saturday night bingo I figure you’ll also be into NPR. I also heard a suggestion to rip the audio from a movie to your iPod and listen to that. The key is to get a movie you know well (but maybe haven’t seen in awhile) so you can kind of “see” it in your head, and one that’s dialogue-heavy. When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail are both good ones… come to think of it most Meg Ryan movies would work. Maybe a good out-loud laugh every once in a while will make you less stabby for those early miles.


    • I, too, love NPR podcasts for long runs. Wait, Wait is a good one, and so is Fresh Air. I often find myself laughing as I run, which must look really strange to people who think running is torture.


      • Haha I swear I don’t frequent the bingo hall EVERY Saturday… I do like the idea of podcasts – kind of like having a running partner and not having to hold up the other end of the convo? In. Thanks for the tip :)


  3. I will join you on this endeavor. I have too lately been dreading these long runs. I love love love the racing and the medium runs and cross training and the gym clothes and shoes and sweat. But for some reason getting up with the idea of committing multiple hours to something more than a little boring is sometimes so difficult. It’s nice to read another person who loves running but sometimes dreads the long runs…


  4. I usually end up doing some or all of my long runs through really sketchy parts of the Bronx, so the endless catcalls usually keep me pretty entertained. That and my neverending paranoia that I’m going to get mugged/kidnapped/attacked keeps me going. (despite the fact that its broad daylight out and I have no logical reason to be fearful.) I usually try to keep a tally of how many dudes make loud, innappropriate references to my butt, and how many just do the creepy stare.

    Um…moral of the story: run through really seedy parts of LA and play hooker bingo to keep things exciting?


  5. You crack me up. I LOOOOOOOVE the long runs, especially when I start in the dark and then watch the sunrise — but I don’t like how they mess with my pace. My brain just wants to conserve in a massive way once I hit 16-18 miles and it’s so frustrating!

    Maybe it would help to set mini-goals on your long runs?


  6. I LOVE long runs, but I run w/ a group. We usually start as a big group and then the various paces break away and it usually 5-6 people in our group. It usually goes by pretty quickly. The last 2 miles are always the worst. They seem to just drag on forever. I hate doing long runs by myself, they are absolutely miserable.


  7. Not all are as easily impressed by butt sweat as I, so you’re lucky I’m here to applaud you on it! And is it really possible not to dread the long run? I love running as much as the next running-obsessed person, but I dread any run longer than 12 for a good 24 hours ahead of time. When times comes for the 20-miler I probably dread it for a whole week. Please teach me your non-dreading ways!


  8. Clean up yer F bombs LOL! I just leave them out there. I also run with a group or a running partner. With my girlfriend we have a rule, talk the first half and when the convo dwindles which it will on a 20 miler (oh look at that cute bird) then we both turn on the ipod. Makes the time go by fast.


  9. So joining LR Haters Anon. I try to run my LRs with someone else but, we all have life and so it doesn’t always workout. This is what I hate the most, LRs alone. Ugh. So I am in. I am going to try to embrace and share your “I will not hate it” spirit.


  10. That’s some serious butt sweat! :-) I have mixed feelings about my long runs (I’m only training for a half, so caveat). I usually don’t mind them terribly, but sometimes psyche myself out if it’s raining or cold.



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