The Long Run
- Stronger Feet and Legs
- The point of the long run is to complete the run and spend the required amount of time on your feet. Our feet are weak due to our newly (relatively speaking as in a few 100 years vs 1,000s of years) acquired habit of sitting most of the day. We have went from people that traveled, hunted and just plain existed by being able to move and move well under our own power to a people that spend the majority of our time sitting. One benefit of the long run is that you strengthen the feet and legs and the only thing required to do that is to be moving under your own power. Speed, not so important. I don’t care if you run 15 Miles or 25 Miles 4 hours is a long time to spend moving yourself down the road and you will gain huge benefits from it regardless of speed. Not to say speed isn’t important in some cases but for this instance it’s not our primary concern.
causing or feeling slight pain or physical discomfort."athlete's foot is a painful and uncomfortable condition"
- Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable
- We also learn how it feels to be uncomfortable, this is another hugely important lesson. What great things can you ever remember accomplishing well laying on your coach under a blanket watching TV? What epic things have been accomplished with sore bodies, rumbling stomachs, chafed thighs, and smelling like the sun? No matter how much you work at it you won’t turn uncomfortable into something comfortable and why would we want to? What you will do is become better at dealing with it, you will start to associate the feeling with doing things that you know are positively influencing your life. You will learn how to minimize it. I can tell you about chafing all day long but the best way to learn about it is to get in a hot shower after a humid run and that burn will teach you all you need to know about where your problem areas are if your putting your anti-chafing whatever in the right places. You will learn that even though your feet ache it doesn't stop you from moving forward. That the heat and cold each come with their own positive and negatives. I can suggest that you wear gloves when the temperature gets below 47 degrees because that works for me but maybe your hot natured and don't need them until its in the 30s. These types of things are best learned though experience and the best way to gain that experience is just to get outside and go for it.
- So what else..... solitude.
- We spend so much time connected, Facebook, Twitter, instagram, emails, text messages, tv we are in a constant state of distraction. For me long runs bring me back to my center, they allow me to reconnect with a deeper part of myself. It’s me, the road or trail, my shoes, and the miles ahead. I have solved many problems and overcome much anxiety by being out on the roads alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love group runs they provide great camaraderie and motivation but if you can’t get motivated on your own and don’t enjoy or can’t learn to enjoy the solitude of a long solo run maybe this isn’t the sport for you. During these miles we learn can focus on the task at hand, moving forward and at the same time your mind can wonder into all sorts of crazy wonderful places. We also learn how to solve problems, deal with pains, overcome the fear of being alone. If your run enough races of sufficient distance you will find yourself alone often. And without that practice how are you going to be able to will yourself along, push just a little longer without having practiced it. What are the thoughts or sayings you go to when things get hard? Well if they hadn’t gotten hard in training, if you hadn’t learned to overcome them you may not have those answers on race day. Only you can answer those types of questions. Everyone is unique and over time and miles you will learn to answer them in your own way.
- And of course Physical Adaptation
- And of course there is physical adaptation and as important as that is I believe it’s probably the least important out of this group. There are 4 Key adaptations that occur the first being a increase in capillaries that supply the muscles with fresh blood getting oxygen and key nutrients to them more efficiently. Second is an increase the size and number of mitochondria in the muscle cells, this increase allows the muscles to break down the nutrients and turn them into much needed energy. Third is an increase in oxidative enzymes which result in the body being able to better utilize fat for fuel. Fat as fuel is a much more sustainable source for long endurance actives. Fourth is a greater concentration of muscle myoglobin content and this change improves the muscles ability to better utilize oxygen. All these changes help to transform us into much more efficient versions of ourselves.
All of these things work together help us perform at a higher level once we decide to ask our bodies to do the things that we didn't think we could do before. Be it a race, an adventure, or even just the next long weekend run. We are building and stacking the blocks that will make taking the next step possible. And the long run is a very important block.