What with only about 6 weeks to go before the London Marathon, I am now into my period of distance long runs. When I ran New York last year, I only got one long run of 20 miles in and I knew it on the day of the race. This year, I am not going to make that mistake – I have done an 18 mile run, and I have scheduled a 20 mile and a 22 mile over the next few weeks. When I was out on Sunday, exploring the streets of London on foot, all sorts of strange thoughts about what I was doing went through my head. Everyone says ‘you do the long runs for the fitness and the cardio’ but I have my own reasons.
- If I run long, then I am less scared on the day. Marathons are as much in your head as they are in your body. If you have conquered at least one 22 mile run, then a four and a bit miles (which is just my regular burn around the block) isn’t that hard…in your head at least.
- Being on your feet for four hours or more is a long time, especially when you are running. The long run ensures you know what it is like to be on your feet, running, for about that period of time. It doesn’t come as quite such a shock.
- I can practice taking gels, drinks and energy bars without the nerves of the race. One’s tummy is not in a very nice place on the day of the race, so at least if you know you can stomach the energy foods that you need, it reduces it.
- It helps me practice my toilet habit – when I need to go, how long it takes etc. I won’t go into that in too much detail, but for any runners out there, you will know exactly what I mean.
- I love telling people I’ve just been out on a 20 miler. That’s a bit sad, I know, but I love the way people look at me like I am a complete loop who ought to go and get herself sanity checked.
- It helps me to build my belief that I can do it.
Of course, after completing a long run, the whole day is generally a wipe-out for me after that. Moving off of the sofa is just not an option for that afternoon, and all I really want to do is eat…a lot! But it carries with it an enormous sense of satisfaction. It makes the training for the race almost as good as the race itself.