Over the past month that I’ve been training for the marathon, I’ve noticed a change in my running. It has to do with the length of my runs. With the exception of Saturday mornings with my running group, I would always only run about three miles at a time. I don’t know why I did this, other than because it’s about equal to the length of a 5K, which is one of the most popular shorter race lengths.
My body had become so conditioned to this length that, after I hit the three mile mark, it would think I was done with the run. I would slow down considerably, feel tired, and get “jelly” legs. It was really kind of weird since each time I would feel these things, I would look at my watch and it would be within a few seconds of this time. It was eerie.
Also, because of this, I was afraid to sign up for anything but 5K races, since I knew I would do poorly on them after running three miles.
These days, as part of my training plan, I’m now running 8, 9 and 10 miles at a time twice a week, plus much more on Sundays. In fact I now rarely, if ever, run just three miles at a time anymore at all. And my body feels the difference. Now, whenever I hit three miles, nothing happens! I just keep on going!
This shows that with proper training, our body can get used to anything. Whatever you may have thought was your threshold can change. From reading marathon training books and speaking with fellow runners, I’ve learned how important it is to vary the length of your runs. You should also try running in different kinds of weather, alternate your speed, and experiment different types of runs—such as hill runs, trail runs, and tempo runs. It’s good to mix it up so your body isn’t stuck in one routine all the time. This will help you improve your running and motivate you to want to run a variety of different races–even, maybe a marathon!
So, get out there and try something new! When you think you’re done with your run, go an extra mile. Sign up for a longer race. Pick up the pace a bit. Find an area in your neighborhood with an unfamiliar surface. Venture out in the rain. In time, you too will notice a difference.