I'll apologize up front if you frequently read my posts, because this is yet another installment about the long run dance. But hang with me! It's not complain-y, it's problem solve-y. I want to know what it is that is keeping me from my long runs. And I want to kindly shove it out of the way.
Today was long run day and I went on my run. I don't know if it was technically a long run, but it was a run and it felt long, so there you go. I did not have headphones--they died a few weeks back and I have not ordered a new pair. I realized a number of months ago that although there are certain songs that make me dig and run faster, for the most part my headphones weren't serving a good purpose. Unlike most runners, using headphones and listening to music or podcasts sends me further into my head instead of the desired and usual effect of taking your mind off the run.The best possible hope for me to let go and lose track is to run without the extra stimulation.
All in all the run went better than usual. I was running one of my routes that I haven't done in a long time, the weather was cloudy and moody (my favorite), I left early, and I had been visualizing running the run without hiccups or stopping. I got past the two mile mark without any trouble at all, which is a big win these days. Mile three was a little more challenging, but I just focused on keeping my attitude light and "clean"--no judging, no negative self talk, no comparing what other runners seem to be able to do that I can't. Without headphones I could hear myself running, and I like the sound of myself running, weird as that may be. It's my favorite part of watching trail running documentaries--I like that sound of feet hitting the trail. My leg was holding up and I had no expectations. I noticed that even as mile four presented more challenge than mile three, I did have moments of losing myself in other thoughts and ideas that were not about how I can't keep running--also big progress for me. And one of those ideas was this: What if you come at this through the back door? What if you quit focusing on the thing that is demanding all of your attention but won't cooperate with any of your suggestions? What if you gave your attention to all of the other parts that aren't quite up to standard but are patiently waiting for their turn, for their little bit of nurturing? What if you didn't have any expectations of your long runs, and you put your focus elsewhere?
Hmmm...this is interesting. Maybe my long run is like an over-tired kid who is up looong past their bedtime and they just don't know what to do. They need the grown up to come in and say, "okay, you're done for the day. You need to sleep, and I need to read and take a bath and drink some tea." Because my mind around my long run needs to chill, and I need to focus on consistency, and warm ups and cool downs, and mastering pull ups. The long run doesn't know that all of these things will serve her better, too.
Another way to look at it is this: focus on what you do have control over. And let go of expectations of the thing you don't. Maybe this will work and it will all come together. And maybe I'll get super consistent and do a pullup like a boss, but will still be wrestling with the long run. It doesn't really matter, there is progress in all of the outcomes. The point is, I think it's worth a shot, and I'm open to anything to solve this puzzle. Because all in all, I love running. I love my interval days. I love my easy runs. I love my sprints. I love my running podcasts, and I love the books about running piled on my shelves. I watch some kind of running video every single day. I love that floaty, blissful feeling I get from ultras. I love my shoes, I love my watch, and I love my heart rate monitor. I LOVE what running has taught me about myself and I love what running gives me. Surely, given all of this, there is something, and I suspect a big something, waiting to be uncovered in the long run, and I want to find it.
So whatever it takes, I'll do it.