This week my friends and I did a dangerous thing. We started planning the weekend run long run on Monday. Normally this won’t start until Wednesday or Thursday. It made the week feel longer than normal, and I was really looking forward to 4 hours or so on the greenbelt in what sounded like perfect weather. In the future, I’ll try not to start thinking about the weekend run so early. The week really dragged!
What is it about the long run that makes it fun and torture all at once? Planning it means Friday night’s plans are slim to none. It’s hard to get up at 5 am and run for 4 hours if you’ve been out all night. It means getting all kinds of snacks and gels ready the night before, and filling bottles and camelbacks. The alarm goes off around 430-500 Saturday am, and I always cringe. How on earth did this sound like a good idea the night before?
Now, not all long runs are created equal. I find it much easier when I have some partners in crime, rather than setting out to run 4 hours on my own. This weekend’s run was the rare treat that I get company on the trail…most of the time I get no takers when I ask if anyone is up for a trail run. It also meant we could start in the pitch black of early morning (I won’t run out there with just a head lamp on my own). I always find it fun to start in the dark, because as it lightens up it seems like a totally different world than the dark one, and suddenly you are on an entirely different run. We had a nice little group and 2 of us had headlamps. It was just lovely out, and always a treat to see a sunrise. The run really flew by and we were onto loop 2 pretty quickly. Both Steve and Meghan took tumbles on loop 2 for which I hope they are not discouraged from future trail runs. I don’t think you can beat the recharging it does for the psyche after a long stressful week. I enjoy the hike and bike trail, but with the crowds, it just doesn’t give me the feeling a long greenbelt run does.
So what is it about the long run? The bonding with friends is huge. The feeling of setting a goal for the day and seeing it through. The chance to feast later in the day, as you can say, “I ran 4 hours today, of course I’ll have fries with that!” For me, it’s like a little mini vacation, where for that time, I am don’t think about work, chores, and other worries (until I am done at least). There is also the anticipation of whatever event that we are using the long run to prepare for. I think most people enjoy having a goal and working towards it…I know I do. Somehow mentally it makes doing those long runs easier….I have to be out on the trail for half a day Saturday, I signed up for some ridiculous event that will be very unforgiving if I am not prepared.
So yeah, I really like the long weekend run. Sure there are some that are just hard, and end up not being fun. But most of the time it’s not a bad way to spend Saturday morning.