I love Sunday long runs. Seriously, there’s no better training session for me. The sights, the adventure, the time alone to ponder on everything. The lack of pressure to pay attention to pace! And, of course, the celebratory waffles upon coming back home. Long runs fuel my desire to run. It’s the promise of going out there every Sunday morning and enjoying this beautiful and unique time of the week that makes me love running.
Sounds Nice Until the Morning Comes
But when the alarm clock went off at 7-something am, I turned it off automatically. I felt none of the excitement that had been following me for days. I was actually angry and tired. There was a dull heaviness locked in my legs—the day before, I had a routine drill and plyometrics session. Ordinarily, the routine leaves me on the fresher side, but I hadn’t been doing it for almost two weeks…
I was sore all over.
Still, I decided to get up and do the work. After all, going for those 13 miles was something I had been wanting to for quite a while—being sore was no excuse to either postpone the run or shorten the distance.
Luckily, I had predicted there would be some protesting going on from the lazy part of me (there usually is ;)). So to decrease the risk of any excuses being made, I had prepared my running gear the night before. By the time I was putting on my compression socks, I had already developed a craving for a run!
It took me three miles to get out of the city surroundings and into the countryside. I was finally able to take off the smog mask and appreciate the beauty of the melancholic surroundings.
But I was struggling. There was no denying that I was simply too tired to run 13 miles today. My heart rate was much higher for the pace I was going (~5:30/km), and there was this heaviness clinging to my legs, declining to let go. I briefly considered doing 9 or 10 miles and calling it quits. Then I realized I would regret it if I resigned. But to go on, I had to somehow dig up enough motivation to actually start enjoying the run.
As I was spurring myself to release the mythical energies that I was sure were buried somewhere inside me, a vicious looking dog jumped out of a field, barking and growling at me.
Now when something like this happens, you have two options:
- Shit yourself and let the dog win
- Let the dog know who’s the boss
I always opt for the second option, which involves me charging at the dog while screaming like a Viking. Most dogs, when they see you mean serious business, run away yelping. Some stay around to bark, but they don’t try to bite you anymore 😉
Disclaimer: I never hurt the dogs! The charge is only to scare them. I always have pepper spray on me, but I haven’t used it yet. It’s a precautionary measure in case the charge isn’t enough or there are more dogs involved.
The dog ran back to the field, barking at me in a futile attempt to save whatever honor it had. No sooner had the little beast retreated than another one appeared, barking crazily, its muzzle contorted in pure hatred. Undeterred, I charged at this angry fellow and won again.
By that time, I was energized enough to complete the remaining distance 😀
Here Comes the Sun
I was now entering a part of my course where there are orchards all around. I ran with renewed enthusiasm, my legs propelling me forward obediently. It was what I yearned to experience for so long. It was this moment.
I flew along the route, admiring the sun’s battle with stubborn clouds. The intense fight threw a light spectacle on the fields on both sides of the road, painting them dark then dousing them with brilliance then dark again. I smiled to myself—I wouldn’t have experienced this if I had shortened the run.
I was now reaching two-thirds of the distance. My legs had started showing the first signs of serious exertion. The initial heaviness had doubled, and I felt like a robot. I tried to divert my focus to the scenery at hand. The path I was running on led through empty fields, and I let my imagination repaint the landscape, filling the fields with fat crops, adding saturated shades of green to pale gray stalks and leaves. I soared above it all.
With two miles left to go, I was struggling mightily. But there was no point stopping now, so close to home. Grasping for the last wisps of energy, I pressed on on fumes. Smog filled the air, and I had to put on the mask again. Only the last turn and stretch of asphalt. I risked speeding up a notch for the last half a mile. I didn’t think I had so much strength left in me, but bringing my pace close threshold felt incredible and easy. Endorphins buzzing, I finished the run smiling.
Now it was time for waffles!