To be honest, not every long run is long

I’ve been slacking. I’ve been slacking on my training schedule and on Sunday, I felt it. It hurt.

According to my training schedule from my Coach, my Sunday long runs need to be between 15kms and 18kms. But I’ve only been running a maximum of 10kms on Sundays. In my head, I’ve been telling myself that 10kms is still pretty good. I mean, it’s Winter and I’m out there, running, way more than I typically run during Winter. I was doing good, right?

There are a couple of half marathon races coming up in August so I decided to do a proper long run on Sunday. The plan was 15kms. Off I trekked with the Randburg Harriers Sunday running group, route map in hand, fresh legs, big smile. It went well until we hit the 13kms mark. Then it started to hurt. Big time!

Regardless of the weekday track sessions and Thursday 8km time trials, I knew in my head that I had not run that far in ages. And I felt it. I dawned on me that I had not been following my training schedule properly and that even though 10kms was a great distance, it wasn’t helping my goals of running my 21km races any faster. I was so not prepared for the distance.

My legs felt tired for the rest of the day (such an awesome feeling though) and I could feel the run had been some good training on my whole body. But no more short runs. I need to get back into it and be more disciplined. Spring is coming! Thank goodness too because things are so much easier in the Summer. Especially running.

discipline

Why are you so hard on yourself?

Road running is not a team sport. As Professor Tim Noakes points out in “The (bible) Lore of Running”, running is a competition with oneself. As he puts it, “…with team sports, you do not have to admit your imperfections. There is always someone or something else to blame.” But running is different.

Running is highly personal. It’s got nothing to do with anyone else but yourself. In fact, only you know how much training you’ve put in. Only you know what goals you want to achieve. Only you can make it happen. No one else can achieve those goals but you. You are the only person you’re running for and the only person satisfied or not with the performance.

A while back, I found myself explaining to a (non-running) friend about my running and my aims to run faster so that I make the 3 hour cut-off times to most half marathons. She listened patiently but it was her question to me that has been on my mind a lot. She asked, “Why are you so hard on yourself? Why don’t you ever stop and celebrate the fact that you can in fact run so far in the first place?”

I didn’t know the answer…

Being so hard on myself does keep me running and keeps me striving to reach my running goals, but unfortunately it prevents me from enjoying my runs. Majority of the time, I am too obsessed with the negative aspects more than celebrating the small victories of my runs.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been giving it some serious thought. I’ve been working on enjoying the runs more than trying to achieve something. I’ve left my running watch at home when I train and not care if I walk during a race. I haven’t had to worry if it rains and I can’t train. I don’t stress when I choose to rather sleep late than go running.

I’ve started to change the way I view my running. You see, this is what I’ve realised: I am a runner.

I don’t need to run the Comrades marathon to claim to be a runner. I can take a year to train for next year’s Two Oceans and maybe throw in a few other half marathons too. I can call myself a runner, just because I run.

I’ve started to enjoy my runs. I’ve started to have fun. I’ve started to feel victorious in a different way. If I run 5 kms around my neighbourhood, 3kms at the gym or a 10km race on the weekend, I’m running and loving it.

I’m overcoming a big hurdle and it feels great! I’ve finally started to run for myself…