Running Games

Not surprisingly, training for the marathon is giving me flashbacks to training for my first half.

Mostly because, starting yesterday, almost every long run is going to be the longest distance I’ve ever run at one time.

Ever.

When I trained for the half, that meant it was the first time I’d ever run five, six, eight, ten, twelve, and, finally, 13.1 miles. Training for the full means the first time running 14, 16, 18, 20 (twice), and, finally, 26.2.

My brain has a hard time aligning those figures with the actions required to accomplish them. When I start thinking about the number of hours in the cold, foot strikes on the cement, and energy burned, it can be a little overwhelming.

My running partner, Diana, and I talk a lot about the “games” runners play to make the long runs more bearable. You’re not running ten miles. You’re running five miles out, and then five miles back. You’re not just running for two hours; you’re burning enough calories to eat whatever you want for dinner.

Sometimes the mental games work. Sometimes you dig deep, grit your teeth, and just grind out another few miles.

Plus, as everyone east of the Bay Area knows, it’s pretty dang cold out. (Yeah, marathon training in the winter may not have been the smartest choice.) I find I don’t even fret about the distance anymore so much as I dread the cold.

That walk from my apartment to the subway to get to the park? Worst part of my week.

I like to think that by the time the real race rolls around (and spring weather with it), I’ll be so thrilled to be able to feel my face and fingers, the whole thing will be a breeze. (Right?)

I hope so. Because the worst part of Saturday’s 14-miler was easily the sub-30 temperatures. And, you know, when it started to snow during the last half-mile. That was just the cherry.

Brr...
Brr…

Overall, though, it has been interesting to see how training changes my perceptions on things. It used to kill me to run more than two miles. In fact, I can remember a time when running two miles sounded like torture.

On Saturday, when I hit nine miles, my first thought was actually, “Yessss, only five more!

Who am I, you guys?