Sunday, July 15, 2012

I'm a Long Distance Runner Because...

This morning I woke up late (about 7.40) and decided that I would do a short long run of one hour. I have been building up my time on my long runs for the past two months and I felt like my body needed a little break. This week I was also doing a lot of stair climbing at work and my legs were tired. Today's run started off fast, but I was able to hold the pace the whole time. My run really seemed very short! While I was running today, I started thinking about how I realized that I am a real long distance runner. Looking back on my Excel spreadsheet that I made for my racing history, I saw that about one-third of my races have been either half-marathons or marathons. I'm currently training for my fifth marathon, which will be in Munich this October.

I should have realized that I was made for long distance running back in junior high. Back in those days (early '70s) our class had to take fitness tests every year. If you made a certain standard on all of the events: 50-meter dash, 800-meter run, push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, and hanging from a bar, then you got a certificate that was signed by the president. It was a big honor to get this certificate because only about 10% of the class could earn one. I could pass the standard on all of the events except for the 50-meter dash. I barely beat the fat kid in the 50-meter dash. But I was one of the top finishers in the 800-meter run.

The following list will be similar to a post from last year about how I know I'm a runner. But there are differences between simply being a runner and being a runner who likes long distances. I know I'm a long distance runner because...
* A one-hour run seems short.
* Waking up at 6 on a Sunday morning to beat the summer heat (and hordes of cyclists and walkers) on a long run is a perfectly normal behavior.
* Energy bars and Gatorade are permanent fixtures on the weekly grocery list.
* I make fun of those who buy one of each color of an item that's on sale. But when Gatorade is on sale at the Commissary, I stock up on it. My basement storage room always has a good supply of Gatorade.
* A 5 km race is practically a sprint.
* A fun mental challenge is figuring out a playlist for a 3-hour training run with as few songs on it as possible.
* Non-running friends think that I'm a masochist. They don't realize that there is a feeling of great satisfaction in completing a two-hour plus training run.
* Non-runners also don't understand that even though marathon finishers look like the walking wounded on the outside, they are doing the happy dance inside.
* Finishers' medals for any race shorter than a half-marathon are put away. The only medals kept on display are those for half-marathons and marathons.
* When I tell people I don't drink much alcohol, they think it's weird until I tell them that I run marathons and that too much drinking affects my training.
* I love the looks on people's faces when I tell them that I ran 25 km (about 15 miles) in training.
* Bedtime is 8 pm on long run days.
* After a post-race recovery period, I can't wait to start doing long runs again.
* I like to eat ice cream. All of those long training runs burn off enough calories to allow me to eat ice cream without gaining weight.

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