No matter how many marathons or ultras I run, the 20 miler always symbolizes “legit training”. Since I’ve been trying to make myself a morning runner lately, I’ve racked up more weekly mileage than usual. I’ve had a couple of 18 milers, but today was the big 20 miler.
This training cycle has really had more of a “get back in the saddle” focus. Today’s 20 miler was the first of that distance (or greater) since my accidental ultra in January. After that, all hell broke loose (in a good way of course) in the form of our move to NC. And then our move to NH. So this cycle has found me rebuilding not only fitness, but muscle – including mental muscle.
There are times when I feel like I’m painfully plodding along a 5 miler and I think back, “C’mon Lees, you ran Ghost Train 100 in 2014…..you can run 5 now”. It’s great to reflect and even to use that reflection to further fuel today, but it can also be a bit of a downer when it reminds you that your fitness/stamina have taken a nose dive. It sure is a journey.
Fret not! Enter today’s 20 miler. It wasn’t super fast and not my strongest, but hey, long runs aren’t supposed to be (not in my world anyway). Today was about the basics: getting up and out early, eating/drinking to prepare (I opted out of the free hotdogs at work on Friday – yay me), and most of all, keeping myself moving through 20 miles. I nailed all three components and have the spent legs to show for it.
Add all the recent Olympic moments and my first run this week in a group run setting and I can’t help but get jazzed about running again. Getting back in the saddle has had its frustrating moments, but overall, I’m enjoying the journey and believe that that enjoyment shines through. In fact, I found myself smiling during today's run. Can't beat that.