After months of painstaking lab research and number-crunching (or a soggy Thursday 11-miler, I can’t remember which) I’ve identified the seven stages of a Long Slow Run…
1. Massively over-complicated preparation
This isn’t just some casual jog to the end of the street; you’ll be out there for hours. Better assemble your kit, then check it, then check it again. Then work out how you’re going to get a small mountain of snacks and assorted running gear into a tiny waist-pack. Remember: if you’re not carrying at least seven cans of dingo-repellant and a grappling hook, you’re not ready for a long run.
2. “I could do this FOREVERRRRR”
For me, this is usually 6 or 7 miles into a LSR. It’s that sweet feeling when you’ve settled into a steady maintainable pace and it feels like this is what your body was designed to do. You’ll be looking graceful and effortless, which is why you’re guaranteed to NEVER see another living soul while on this stage. Grrr.
3. Step after aching step
If you’re anything like me, by 9-10 miles your knees and feet are starting to ache a bit. You’re glad you’ve come out for a long run, but you’ll be glad when it’s over.
4. “I &@£!ing HATE running!
To be fair, this stage doesn’t always happen, but when it does (usually towards the end of a long run) it can feel like tiny goblins are nailing lead weights to your shins. This isn’t fun any more; you’re tired, things are rubbing, and the only thing keeping you moving forward is the thought of demolishing a gallon of chocolate nesquik and a bacon roll as soon as you’re finished.
5. The post-run endorphins
Okay, so you’re exhausted and you probably don’t smell very nice. But you’ve done your long run, and the first reward comes in the form of a warm flood of endorphins still hurtling around your body like shiny microscopic cheerleaders. Everything is buzzing, and you feel like you’ve just conquered the world.
6. At home with empty legs
The endorphins, fickle hippies that they are, won’t hang around forever, but that doesn’t have to mean the next stage is a come-down. Showered, fed and (hopefully) resting after a long run, your legs don’t quite feel like they’re part of you anymore. They’re empty husks, but that’s okay because they’ve done their bit and now they’re just recharging ready for more punishment.
7. Much later. Smug.
Depending on how far you’ve gone (and especially if it’s a distance PB) this stage can last for a while, and quite rightly too. Your weekly long run is in the bank, so allow yourself a little smugness and feel free to bore the pants off your non-running friends while casually downplaying the whole thing. “Yeah, just popped out for a gentle 21-miler before breakfast. I originally planned to stop after three, but I sort of got into a thing“*. The miles are done, and nobody can take them away from you.
Except your evil time-travelling identical twin, Edgar. But we don’t all have one of those.
*You may get punched. But even so, you still get to eat seven packs of guilt-free pop tarts, so you’re a winner in my book.