The Higher Purpose of the Long Run
Are you up for it?
At the completion of a half marathon or marathon many people say, “I feel like I can do ANYTHING!!” What a great feeling, when you know that challenges can be overcome and that you are capable of great things.
With ChiRunning, when you focus on running well consistently over the span of months or years, you not only build aerobic, cardiovascular and core muscle strength, you build the strong fiber of an intangible inner strength, an emotional/psychological core strength that carries into how you approach your whole life.
The long run is your longest weekly run – a crucial element in any running program.
It also happens that the weekly long run, when approached mindfully, can help you build the substance, the wherewithal, to help you approach and build the life you want to live.
If you’re a beginning runner, your weekly long run might be anything from a mile to a 5K. If you’re a marathoner, it might be a 10K to 20+ miles. It’s different for everyone.
Physically, the long run develops aerobic capacity by building more extensive capillary beds in your lungs and muscles, giving you better oxygen uptake while running. Yes, it does that, but the intangible benefits from running long can be even more important. The weekly long run is where you build duration, the ability to sustain mental attention by practicing mind/body focusing consistently over an extended period of time
Duration, in ChiRunning terms, means being in the present, moment-by-moment, listening to and responding to your body; a skill we could all use in our running as well as in our everyday lives. When I think of duration, worlds like patience, persistence and consistency come up… intangible attributes that improve the quality of your life.
Your weekly long run can expand your concept of your self. With ChiRunning, the long run is not about efforting and pushing and sweating for longer and longer periods of time. It’s about learning to focus and relax…to simply feel the joy of moving. The weekly long run is where you can surprise yourself with how enjoyable a 5K or 10K or even a marathon can be.
As I started out on my weekly long run yesterday at a local trailhead, I didn’t know how far, or even where, I was headed. I knew I had a couple of hours, but beyond that there was no plan. What I did know was that I was going to work on nose-breathing, being light on my feet, keeping my perceived rate of exertion steady and my relaxation level high, regardless of whether I was running uphill, downhill or on level ground. Another thing I knew was that I had all the time in the world to practice my list of focuses; assuring me, even before taking my first step, that it was going to be a successful run. Knowing that I had lots of time left me with a nice sense of relaxed anticipation. I felt like I was back in school, heading into study hall…but in a really positive way.
Duration, holding an intention and focus over a long period of time, creates an inner substance that cannot be created in any other way. Short, quick learning does not necessarily engender depth or wisdom. When you add in the factor of time, the results are on a completely different level. The longer you practice something, the deeper it affects you and the more you begin to learn it, experiencing it from the inside out.
Feel the difference practice over time makes. When done mindfully and well, it can expand your concept and understanding of self. It builds inner strength, decisiveness, willpower; all skills that can take you wherever you want to go.