Since I started grad school last year, I haven’t been able to train for any long runs. I stopped running in April after a bad race and only kept up with a few 5k or 10k races in 2017. Then I somehow managed to do okay at the Bridge Run 10-miler, but that was not because I was well trained. When I look back at what I was doing a year ago, I really miss those long runs. Not many people would miss running 20 miles, but I do.
I have so many friends that I met thanks to running. And several of my friendships have strengthened by running together. There have been dozens of times that a friend and I saw each other through hours of running, carpooled to races, and had crazy adventures.
Even without a partner, long runs alone are still magic. I can’t explain how weird and wonderful it is to run 15 miles along Lake Michigan, or to start from your house and run far enough away that you don’t even know where you are. The relief of being done but the accomplishment of having done something so challenging is the actual best feeling.
And what you do after the run makes it all worthwhile. Like that time I ate a whole jar of pickles (bad example; do not do this). Or the time I ran 20 miles and it was super hot so I ran through the sprinklers at the retirement home down the street, and then I flagged down the ice cream truck and ate the most delicious ice cream sandwich I’ve ever tasted.
There’s something calming about running it all out. Leaving everything on the course. You get hours alone with only your thoughts, or some music or podcasts. I’ve learned new bands and enjoyed old favorites. I’ve learned about scientific advances or listened to incredible stories. More than once I’ve been brought to tears or had to break my stride to stop and laugh—sometimes both in one run.
I just miss it. I want to do it again. Now, and frequently. I can’t because I don’t have time, and when I do have time, I don’t have the energy. And that’s okay. I’m prioritizing school right now and still pulling my weight with work and family. I’ve worked in some fitness classes and a short run on the weekend, which is enough to stay in shape. But it’s not the same. It bums me out.
Just gotta try to be zen about it. Running a stupid amount of miles will still be there when I get back.