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Ahhhhhh, the Joy of Running Long

Often when you long for something--when you dream of it for years, picture it, yearn for it--it becomes so idealized in your mind that when it actually happens, it can't possibly live up to your imagined version.

For eight years I have been deprived, by my doctor's orders, of the opportunity to run more than six miles. My running regimen during those years was sporadic (often limited to the summer months), and rarely did I run over three miles. But throughout those years, with an intensity and frequency that slowly built to a sense of urgency, I yearned to run long. I pined for those chilly Kellogg mornings when I got up at 4:30 to beat the heat, so I could get in my 10, 12, even 20-miler. I missed the meditative and restorative power of running for an hour or two or three.

Still, I could not help but wonder if I had romanticized this experience. Was I just longing for it because I had been told I could not have it? What if a long run turned out to be just long and hard and painful? What if I'm too old to enjoy it now?

I began half-marathon training eight weeks ago (after getting permission from various doctors), and every Saturday since, I have ventured out for runs that have increased in distance from four miles to nine. I will complete a 10, two 11s, and a 12-mile-run, before taking on the 13.1 on May 19th.

And guess what? These runs have been, almost entirely, the delightful, idyllic experience I had held in my head for the last decade. Oh sure I bonked with a mile and a half to go on my eight-miler, which I foolishly ran in the heat of the day. And my arthritic hips start to talk back to me about the six-mile mark of every run. But the calming, repetitive falling of my feet on the pavement brings me the same joy, the same refreshing, head-clearing satisfaction I had been longing for.

I am running long. (I feel a sermon coming on.)


  1. I love this! I was just telling Tam not long ago that one of my favorite parts of training last year was our long runs! (and the trip to Costco for free samples afterwards.)

    I have a feeling if you come out with a sermon, you'll be talking straight to me! Bring it on!

    1. Thank you, Paige! I don't talk to a lot of people who love their long runs like I do, but it's cool to hear that this resonated with you. I'll have to work on my sermon!

      Also, I love that you guys have a post-long run tradition. Very cool.

  2. I have never been a runner...I don't dream that I can fly, I dream that I am running. Your post brought a smile to my face. :-) I wonder if God is trying to tell me something!


    1. Chrissy--while I don't think running is for everyone, I do think most people can do it and can even love it! When I haven't run for a while, it always takes 4-6 weeks before I start really enjoying it, so if you decided to dive in, be patient and take it slowly at first. There are all sorts of apps and programs on-line for novice runners (like "couch to 5K"). Thanks for reading and commenting!


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