Last weekend, I did a 14-mile run, and by the end of it, I was crying for mercy. About a month ago, I ran 16 miles through Forest Park in Portland and I felt as if I had just finished a 50K; I found myself couch-bound for most of the rest of the day. Yup, my conditioning has fallen off a cliff since running the Bryce 100 back in 2015, but I’ve been running consistently the last several months, usually doing multiple days a week of 5 to 8 miles, with some 10-mile runs thrown in there as well. What my recent 14 and 16-mile runs have taught me is that, no matter how many short runs I may put in, when it comes to training for distance, there is no substitute for the weekly long run.
I should have known this already. Back when I lived in Asheville and regularly ran the 40-mile Mount Mitchell Challenge, I used to marvel at my running partner’s training plan, or lack of one. He would not run at all during the week due to a busy life of work and children, but every weekend, he’d get out on the trails and go long. Come race start day in February, he was always ready, even without putting in all the weekly miles that I had. The long runs were all he needed to get his body and mind ready.
I think this example probably holds true for other aspects of life as well. If you truly want to improve at something, sustained, hard efforts are necessary to make progress. So though I don’t plan on foregoing my shorter runs throughout the week, I’m going to try each week to go out and do a long run.
Are there areas in your life that you would like to improve? Are you scheduling in “long runs” in order to do so?