I cannot believe how quickly the marathon is coming up, and my long run mileage is ramping up along with it. The marathon is set for February 16th, and my longest, 20-mile, prep run is just a month away. Looking back, I remember when 7 seemed long and I was looking ahead on the calendar in disbelief at the distances I'm going now. It just goes to show you that you don't need to go into a training program able to do it all, you just need to be able to start, and have the motivation to keep taking those steps forward.
And over the months, there are some things that I've come to associate with going for a run. For being nonsensical, it sure does involve a lot of senses. I thought I'd share some of the things that I smell, taste, and feel while running:
What I smell:
While I'm crossing miles off of my to-do list, almost every time I go for a run I can smell that tell-tale scent of a dryer busily at work. I guess Saturday is laundry day for some people in the neighborhood.
Because I worked for a while in retail at Bath & Body Works, I have a wide selection of soaps and lotions at my disposal. But after I'm done with my run, I have a habit of using the same scent for shower gel. Eucalyptus Mint Tea is part of the Aromatherapy line that is meant to relieve stress, and it is rather soothing, while also being a very clean and crisp kind of scent.
What I hear:
Aside from dog's barking from the safety of their fenced-in yards, I like to listen to podcasts during my long runs. For shorter distances during the week I rely on music to get me amped up and keep my pace and energy up. I won't even lie, it's a mix of sugary pop music with a dash of popular rap and rock in there.
But for the long runs, I find that music can sometimes make me think about how much longer I have to go, because my mind starts to think about how many more songs I'll probably have to listen to before I'm done. So I find it easier to listen to podcasts, where the discussion can distract me from the distance.
I started with 'Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me', NPR's comical current events quiz show, but now I've embraced something maybe a little ironic and I'm listening to episodes of 'The Splendid Table', also from NPR. Because there's nothing like listening to suggestions for candies to try making at home (I so want to try buttermints now, and the honeycomb candy) while burning calories.
What I taste:
Before I run, I've started taking little bites of something just to give me a little bit of fuel. This morning, I'm not sure a professional trainer would approve, but I took a few forkfuls of the traditional family Christmas potato salad that was leftover. Hey, it has some protein and carbohydrates, right?
During the run, I'm training myself with the gel chews that they are going to have on the marathon course, from Gatorade. Today it was Cool Blue flavor, but mostly I've been liking the Fruit Punch. That and plenty of water has been enough to get me from start to finish.
As I hobble back into the house, I then reach for a post-workout snack. I've read that chocolate milk is a favorite of many athletes for the mix of sugars, etc. Remember how I did that Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap? I decided that one of the three dozen cookies that I received and a short glass of unsweetened almond milk was enough to sustain me through some stretching and my shower. I like that I've turned a little baking swap into part of my marathon training, it kind of goes along with listening to 'The Splendid Table'. Also, it's nice to look forward to a cookie at the end of the run.
What I see:
This year was a good one for autumnal leaves, apparently because of some well-timed rain. This morning most of the leaves were gone from the branches, except for one or two trees that still had some vibrant reds blazing in the afternoon light.
I'll also pass a few people on my run. Mostly I see people walking to pick up their mail, or walking the dog. The best thing is when I come across a fellow runner. Usually we happen to be running in the opposite direction, which is lucky because then there's no awkwardness about whether I can actually pass them or not. But when we pass by each other, there's at least a cursory smile, nod, or wave between us. The other week another girl and I were clearly on a similar loop, and after a few encounters we were exchanging short phrases of encouragement like 'Nearly there!' It's always nice, even as a solo runner, to have a brief connection with someone else who knows my pain.
What I feel:
Speaking of pain, it's hard to think of what I feel when I'm running other than the little tweaks and things that you start to feel when you pass 10 miles. Mostly I'm learning to appreciate all of the nuances of my feet. Recently I think I've mentioned some issues with my feet, which I think I've pinned down to my perineal tendons, just the part running from my ankle along the bottom of my feet. I've bought some compression socks, found some foot exercises, and am planning on getting some new shoes soon with plenty of support so that I can train in them a little before the big day.
Other than that, I mostly just feel a longingness to be reach my allotted mileage and feel the warmth of the shower.
I don't know if that was inspiring for anyone else, but these are the little details that I've been using to try and motivate me through my runs. For more inspiration, go to Woolen Diversions. This week, a special guest has posted a really great Christmas crafted present.