Shhh! It’s a Secret!

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Okay. I’ve figured it out.

The secret to running long distances, that is.

(And by “long,” I mean anything over 3 miles.)

(And by “secret,” I mean that gajillions of other runners have already discovered the groundbreaking, earth-shattering news I am about to share with you.)

When I was training for the 10k my dad and I ran last month, 6.2 miles seemed incredibly daunting. My mom kept reiterating, “You know, you can walk part of it…” and she’s exactly right.

But that just isn’t my style.

Before I ran that 10k, the furthest I had ever run was 5 miles. Even now, it is still one of my proudest fitness accomplishments. Running has granted me permission to learn so much more about myself than I ever would have thought possible. It’s a sport that challenges me mentally and physically in ways I had never considered before I began grad school. But, I digress. Six-point-two miles, I kicked your ass before you even saw it coming ๐Ÿ˜‰

When Lauren and I officially decided on the half-marathon we wanted to run and we began training two weeks ago, I found myself running safe distances. You know, distances I was already comfortable running. Three miles here, four miles there, maybe a five-miler to spice things up during a slow week. There was nothing impressive about my training, and certainly nothing that would lend aid to completing 13.1 miles in September.

On Monday, I decided I would attempt to run six miles — my furthest distance on the treadmill yet. I was pretty amped up about it, but ย also a bit anxious. What if I couldn’t do it? What if I got a stitch and had to stop? What if my legs gave out on me? What if a meteor hit my car? [That one’s for you, Dad ;-)]

I decided to put my fears aside, find a marathon of World’s Wildest Police Videos, and just go for it.

About a mile in, something happened that I hadn’t anticipated as my mind ran through a million what-if scenarios: I had to pee. Like, pretty bad.

[INSERT REVELATION]

I thought, What if I stop the treadmill but keep my iPhone running as a timer, take a picture of how far I ran before I stopped, and pick my run back up after I pee? In so doing, I broke my run into two legs, the first leg of which was 2.55 miles; the second, 4 miles exactly. Do you know what those two distances equal, folks?

Half of a half-marathon!

All told, I warmed up, ran the first leg, took a 3 minute restroom and hydration break, ran the second leg, and cooled down in 83 minutes. Ho. Ly. Shit. What a revolutionary idea — breaking running long distances into shorter legs?? Who woulda thunk?!

My excitement over this miraculous idea, plus my impromptu novice yoga sesh, carried me over to yesterday — when I decided to try it again.

I marched into the gym, armed with a full bottle of ice-cold water, and just having used the bathroom. Twice.ย I found CSI: Miami on the TV, and off I went. Metaphorically, of course.

I broke yesterday’s goal of a 6-mile run into two 3-mile legs, because 3 miles seems to be my “comfort zone” distance. I started my iPhone stopwatch when I started the treadmill, and kept it running the entire time. I warmed up, ran the first leg, and then rested and hydrated for 2 minutes.

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Then I ran the second leg and cooled down.

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All told, 77 minutes.

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The second run was a bit more difficult because I had jelly legs for the first half-mile or so, but overall it went incredibly well.

I don’t plan to run the half in bursts like these, but training this way will give me several advantages: the distance won’t feel nearly as daunting because I’ll have broken it up in different ways throughout training; Lauren and I plan to walk through the water stations as opposed to trying to choke down a cup of water while running, so small breaks aren’t too far off from our plan of action; and I can shave time off of my now-goal of completing the half in under 2 hours and 45 minutes if I train with longer breaks between legs.

Well, blends, the cat’s out of the bag now. Aren’t you glad I shared? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Have a magnificent Thursday!

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