Why I Love Long Runs
Lately I've got into so much fun with my long runs and sightseeing all over New York City. With five weeks to go before the NYC United Half Marathon, I find myself looking forward to all my scheduled long runs. I used to feel the dread of anything longer than 10 miles but a switch inside of me has recently flipped. The winter temperatures haven't been too bad except for a couple of weeks in the new year and I am thrilled to have found my new love in cold weather running. I almost don't want the winter to end!
I believe any expert runner can write a book or ten about the physiological benefits of long distance running. I have to admit I am not qualified to do so and here is just my personal take on why I love long runs.
Peace of Mind
Long runs give me a stretch of time when I can leave my daily distractions behind. It is the quality time I spend with myself (or with friends in a group run), when I am not on my iPhone, or iPad, or any screen. I have to confess that I am really hooked on Instagram so long runs are effectively my gateway to digital detox. When I go running, I listen to podcasts or music or just let my mind wonder and take in the scenery. It is a great moment of self-care, an opportunity to check in with myself, and to clear my mind.
Getting to Know the City
Sightseeing the city has recently become a highlight of my long runs. Paying more attention to my surroundings helps me reduce both the physical and mental burden (for lack of a better word) of longer mileages. I have been training quite consistently over the past year and I know (thankfully!) that my legs can handle the distance. Having the confidence about my physical state gives me more mental capacity to navigate and explore the world around me. I find this liberating. I also love taking pictures on route, because I get to show them off on Instagram and share the joy of running!
Planning and Getting Organised
I like the Virtual Trainer app as it tells me exactly how many miles to run per week, while I still have the option to choose my rest and flex days for each week. The app gives me more time to deal with the exciting bits of planning, like what to wear, when to run and where to run. I like using Mapmyrun or Strava to plan my routes, and the map shows the distance I need to cover before reaching a bridge or a certain landmark, and helps me mentally prepare for the more hilly parts of a route. Also, knowing when the next landmark or mile post comes up gives me something to look forward to during my run.
Training for a Race
I am still pretty much a newbie to long run training but I can tell they are making me a better runner, building up my endurance and confidence for the races. They are absolutely essential for testing outfits, shoes, pacing, hydration and fueling strategy on race day. For my first marathon training last year, I joined a 20 mile group run with the New York Flyers, which covered 3 bridges and followed much of the NYC marathon course. It was a fantastic way to see some amazing parts of New York City and to have great conversations with my running friends. It was one of my most memorable and unique experiences in New York. For me, long runs are usually a solo gig but that group run really helped me through the last few miles.
Enjoy Every Mile
I know this may sound a little crazy for people who aren't runners (yet) or not quite ready to go that sort of distance. This blog is just a means of sharing the joy and excitement I find in long runs. I am just happy and grateful for the privilege, health and strength to enjoy running, and I would love to see more people sharing similar excitement as I do!