Yesterday, after my long run, I walked up the stairs to my apartment, took off my running shoes, sat down in butterfly pose to stretch out my hips and thought, “Oh my God, I just ran 16 miles.”
In less than a year’s time, I’ve gone from not being able to run a mile, to running a four miler, then jumping up to running two half-marathons and now I’m training for a full marathon.
I still remember the day, back in May, when I ran 6 miles with my cousin along the beach in Maine. It was my first breakthrough with running. The first time I saw “the wall” and just leaped over it like I was jumping over a puddle. We got back to her house that day and celebrated because it was a huge deal for the both of us. During these first few months of running, every little bit further I went was a milestone. It was cause for celebration and reflection on how far I’ve come.
This weekend I hit another milestone by running my longest run ever and logging my highest mileage week ever. When I woke up Sunday morning, I saw my running clothes laid out on the floor with my Gu packets meticulously placed and ready to be ingested and I didn’t feel nervous. I felt excited and anxious about taking on the challenge of running a new distance.
The run went flawlessly but during those two and a half hours on the road I couldn’t help but think back on how much progress I’ve made. With every run, whether it goes well or not, I’m humbled by the results.
I know many runners, much more experienced than I am, who will say they have a long run of “just” 10 miles on a given weekend. I have been guilty of this very same thing saying I “only” have to run 4 miles on a weekday. Well, there are so many runners out there who see 4 miles as challenging and may feel like 10 miles is impossible. I have a good friend who will run a 10-mile race next Sunday and she typically runs 3 to 4 miles during the week. But, on Sunday she texted me, excited to tell me she ran 6.5 miles, her longest run ever. I was so proud of her and how far she has come.
Running is an individual sport and each milestone is relative to each individual runner. What is a huge accomplishment for one person, like hitting a new distance or nailing a new pace, may be routine for another but that doesn’t make each milestone less sweet. I don’t take for granted for a second how far I’ve come already. After my run on Sunday, I realized, although 16 miles is not the longest I’m ever going to run, it’s still a milestone and I will celebrate it as such because it was my own personal accomplishment and no other runner can one-up me on that.