I think I will always be a long run on Sunday person. I am programmed now. When you train for the big run, Sundays are cathartic. You build all week for that Sunday run. You prepare and you plan and you have to get revved up to do it. During the week you do 4,7,4 or some combination of 5,9,3 as you build and then Sunday comes and you hit it long. The first month isn’t so bad but at about week five Sundays become a different thing. Sunday long ones are all about getting your feet used to hitting the pavement for hours. They are about building the mental strength that will eventually get you through 26.2 because when you run 26 miles it isn’t about how much you have trained your muscles, it is all about your head. 12, 13, 10, 15, 16, 12, 18, 14, 20,12 and the blessed 8 the week before the marathon are the string of the last Sunday miles.
Sundays were the hardest part about training for me. I am slow, I jiggle, I am not a real runner and miles and miles hurt. Most Sundays my Mom biked with me because there is no way that I would have completed that list of miles without someone telling me to keep going. She was also the chief of bananas, water, cash and a phone just in case I died. The beauty of the TC Marathon is that you can pick up the course just steps from my front door. The summer I trained, I covered every inch of that course, some parts so often I memorized every slight incline and every brutally sunny stretch. I knew the best water fountains, bathrooms and sheltered weeds in case of emergencies. In a couple desperate situations I knew that if I could just get to the gas station off Minnehaha Creek I could down an icy Coke that would restock my sold out sugar stores. Those Cokes made me fly the last five or six miles.
And once you get toward the end and once you have run 18 and 20 miles you are pretty sure that 26 is doable. In fact there is really no way in hell you aren’t going to finish your race at that point. And those weeks and weeks of Sundays get you to the finish line, make you sprint the last few blocks and not care how slow your time or how much you ache or how your toes have become forever a little crooked, those Sundays do that for you. That’s the payback you get and it is payback for life. My Mom always says running a marathon is like getting your degree, unlike a lot of other things no one can ever take your race away from you.
I don’t run long on Sunday anymore. I am reserving my knees for short sprints, chasing my boys. I walk now, long and almost as fast as my run. And my long walks are not all encompassing. I don’t have to think so hard about it. And once you have run double digits, walking them never seems daunting. Long Sunday walks are sweaty and challenging and my feet still hurt but the best part is that in my head there is room to think about other things beside just getting through the next mile. It is mental in a different way. And while my Sunday walks aren’t leading to a culminating race, they do lead me to the end cap of the week and most of the time that is race enough.