Long Runs are Mental

Why do I, as a runner, always seem to have to justify what I do to others? And equally, why is it that non-runners always feel compelled to provide me with a plethora of reasons why they don’t run? I’m starting to think that the world is somehow divided into two kinds of people; those who run and those who don’t; only I never got that memo. I was probably out on a long run when it arrived.

In any case, one of the most frequenly cited reasons I hear from non-runners to justify their non-running existence is that they are convinced they would find it boring. This anxiety is of course completely misplaced, as running is in fact extremely thought provoking and mentally rewarding. To fully demonstrate this point for the benefit of all non-runners, I have kept a note of my own thoughts during a recent long run:

Mile 1: What a beautiful day, this is going to be good. My training has gone well so far, I’m hydrated and have faithfully completed the pasta eating ritual last night, so let’s do this!

Mile 2: Oh look, the first hill. I don’t need a power bar yet. That’s, what, 8 per ce… – No, no! Do not think about the distance ahead, it’s better if my mind doesn’t know what’s coming. Should I be worried that I’m thinking of myself as two people already, given that this is only two miles in? Anyways, better keep moving before I get cold. Is this a good time to re-evaluate the wisdom of my decision to go for my long run wearing nothing but running shorts and a sports bra? In October? In Scotland?

Mile 3: I hope I don’t encounter any out-of-control dogs today. Or ducks. Or highland cows. I love nature, really.

Mile 4: Must not look at my watch. Must not look at the watch… Perhaps I should run a bit faster anyways, just in case.

Mile 5: What’s with all the hills? Really, is this whole country hilly? Two more miles and I can have a power bar.

Mile 6: Have I locked my car?

Mile 7: Power bar! Now that’s fun to say. Power bar. Power bar! A bar that gives you power. Magic! Dammit, lost half of my power bar to an out-of-control dog or possibly highland cow. I’m not sure which, it all happened so fast. Also, am now covered in mud. On the plus side, it’s kind of cooling and affirms my tough-as-nails cross country runner girl image.

Mile 8: This is practically half way, right? Anyways, are running nicknames only cool if they are given to you by other people? I really need to pee…

Mile 9: Did that ranger really just see me wee in his forest?

Mile 10: Is there such a thing as eating an unacceptable number of pancakes? This is a purely hypothetical question of course, which is in no way related to the post-run lunch I’m planning in my head.

Mile 11: Okay, so, I’ve run 18km in 90 minutes. That’s an, uhm, what? 8, 8:30, 9-minute mile-ish pace. At this pace I will finish a marathon in 543 minutes, which is 7:23 hours. No, wait, that’s not right. How far is one mile again…?

Mile 12: Wow, I guess this is what forever feels like. Besides, I’m really getting hungry. Damn you, pancake thoughts… Is it possible to order takeaway food on a run? If I knew where I was, perhaps I could convince someone to meet me with a pizza? That marathon man dude did it once, but I suppose he’s in California where anything is possible. A mountain top in Scotland isn’t really the same as a stretch of Highway 101, is it?

Mile 13: Wait, I’m on top of a hill? How did this happen? Am I still on the right track? This doesn’t look at all familiar… Where am I? Hellooo? Anybody? Which county is this? And really, what is it with all these hills???

Mile 14: Up and right? Motion and poetry? No, seriously, what was my mantra thingy again? I just wish I had eaten that whole power bar earlier.

Mile 15: Looks like it’s just me against trail now. Nothing left to do but to keep going and confront all my inner demons.

Mile 16: …Pancakes…

Mile 17: I definitely didn’t put enough Vaseline under my arms, and I think one of my toenails just fell off. What else can possibly go wrong? At least I haven’t hit the wall yet…

Mile 18: Aaaaaahhhaaaahhhh I’ve just hit the wall… I have never felt so miserable in my whole life. My knees have turned to jelly and even my detached toenail feels tired… I want my bed. Or any bed. Actually, that pile of dirt looks good, too.

Mile 19: No, I will not let this beat me. I’m not a whimp. I’m a mud-covered tough runner girl cross-country person who still needs a nickname. Think of that guy who cut off his own arm when he got stuck on a mountain somewhere. I know, it’s kind of disgusting, but the point is, if he can do it, so can I.

Mile 20: “…I’m a survivor, I’m gonna make it, I’m gonna laa-laaah, keep on, uhm, surviving…”

Finish: Wow, best run EVER… Now, where did I park my car again?


3 thoughts on “Long Runs are Mental

  1. TartanJogger says:


  2. […] a lot of posts yet, so it’s impossible to pick a favourite. However, I found the writing of “Long Runs are Mental” pretty […]

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