Jogging Writer: Going the Distance


On Sunday morning, I ran the farthest I have ever run in my life: 14 miles. The last mile and a half were run at a slightly faster pace, as part of my training, and the thought that raced around my mind as I pushed was: You might never run a 14th mile again in your entire life; make this one count.

It might sound morbid, but it worked.

I openly confess: the “bug” to go for a full marathon hasn’t struck.

I’m certain I’ll have some very long runs in my future, even after the Half Marathon at the end of this month, but the reason I may never reach 14 miles again has to do with choice. That much distance is hard on my knees. I can still feel it today, and I have 3 hours of training at the dojo to look forward to tonight. If 12 miles isn’t too terribly hard on my knees but 14 miles is, why push it? Or if 10 miles feels like a good challenge that doesn’t cost me anything, why not listen to that? In other words, what’s so important about “a few more miles” that could persuade me to push and push and push again? Unless I’m training for a race, not much.

Which brings me to the downhill slope of my training regiment. For now. I’m officially done with my “peak” phase of training. Today, the “taper” phase begins. Don’t get me wrong–I still have a workout 6-7 days a week, including 10 miles with intervals this weekend–but the bulk of my physical challenges are over between now and race day. So: consume slightly fewer calories since I’m running less, stretch more, be extra germ-conscious when traveling or eating out (to avoid food poisoning or illness), and try to get more than enough sleep. That’s actually a lot to focus on for the next two weeks, and takes as much discipline, I believe, as running 14 miles. Tapering is still considered part of most official training programs, and for good reason.

If any bug has struck, it has to do with running for long periods of time at a relatively slow pace. I’ve found (and know by heart) a pace that feels like I could run forever. That’s a gift. After race day, that will be a pace I can return to again and again for sustaining workouts or, simply put, for sheer pleasure. I look forward to it.

Has any running bug caught, then, after 6 months of training? Yes, in fact. First, I know how to run consistently without pain and am better for it–and will run more because of it. Second, I have a quiet little voice in the back of my head suggesting that I run thirteen 13.1 half marathons–a nice little thought indeed. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

One thing happened of note while I was on my big run, and that is–of course–I passed the 13.1 mile mark. At that time, I also looked at my watch, which read 2hr17min00sec. So that’s how long it takes me to run a half marathon. And now, that’s the time to beat on March 28th!

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