But Dad … 5 Miles Kinda IS a Long Run …


Perspective. We don’t have it.

I had included it in a ‘random thoughts’ post this past spring, but I was reminded again today that I completely lack perspective when it comes to running.

The situation? I ran a ‘quick’ 7.5 miles in 88F heat Friday after work, then turned around the next day and ran 23.5 miles including hill repeats. And THEN, instead of resting on Sunday, I headed out for a quick ‘around the block’ which I planned at 5 miles but turned into 7.75 miles. And before I left my kids asked how long I was going, and after I said ‘not long, just a quick 5 miles’, Danny reminded me that just a quick 5 miles … really not a ‘quick little run’.

How does this loss of perspective happen? Well, some of it is just that we get accustomed to running more and more miles so what was once a big deal is now routine, some of it gets back to the great comment and post Harold made, and some of it is tied in with our natural tendency to seek out approval and common viewpoints.

How We Protect Ourselves from Gaining a Different Perspective

Here is the basic thing – in a world so over-flowing with data and information, it has been shown that more and more of us choose to surround ourselves only with like-minded people and ideas. As a result, things that are different are easily attacked or ignored. Which to me as someone who grew up before Cable TV, before cell phones, and before the internet … seems weird.

I think we all see this on Facebook with religion and politics – people who we otherwise like post inflammatory things that we don’t agree with, stated in a way that leaves no space for reasoned discourse … so we block them. Suddenly we are surrounded by people who almost uniformly agree with us … or who are polite enough to never say otherwise.

But I am thinking more about running … think about this community we all read blogs from – we tend to understand what each other are going through, and very often share common experiences at similar times (actually that is uncanny at times!). So here are some thoughts specific to running.

Here is Some Perspective on Running

Just a few thoughts about the non-normalcy we can fall into over time:
– Running more than 20 miles per week is A LOT.
– Running more than 5 days per week is A LOT.
– Running When you are too sick to go to work/school is NOT normal
– Running when school was cancelled for weather reasons … NOT normal.
– When you can’t remember your last rest day – NOT normal
– When all of the ‘rest days’ over the last 3 months include either driving more than 5 hours, walking at least 5 miles, or strenuous hiking or biking … NOT normal (yes, that DOES describe my summer!)
– When you miss important family / friend / child events because of a run it is NOT normal (unless you are a professional).
– Most people will not be able to relate to essentially losing contact with you for three months as you train for a race once or twice a year as a hobbyist runner.
– When you get to the finish line of a marathon (or a 20+ mile run) and you look and feel like you are in really rough shape … people will NOT understant WHY you did it in the first place … nor why you are enthusiastic to do it again.
– Running at least one ‘half marathon+’ every week ‘just because’ … NOT normal.

I always love Danielle’s articles either at her site or her new gig with Women’s Running. Here is a fun quote from a recent one:

Genuinely enjoying a 5 am wake up call: I know that a lot of people only have time to run in the morning. Personally I wake up early most mornings of the week to get a workout in. I totally understand needing to do it, but my goodness, enjoying it? Am I the only person who literally counts down the minutes left before I have to be up and out of bed with running shoes on and starts panicking when I realize how few there are left? I love you, morning people, but I don’t have to like you right now.

I have been a very early riser (before 5AM for more than 25 years, 4AM for the last decade or so), so that one isn’t one that I can relate to. But seriously – it is TRUE! Getting up 3 hours before you have to leave for work so you can get in a hour and a half of running … that is NOT normal!

Those are just a few things … and reading everyone’s marathon training plans reminds me of the ‘new normal’ people thread into their lives in preparation for a race (loving all those posts, by the way).

How do YOU lack perspective?

22 thoughts on “But Dad … 5 Miles Kinda IS a Long Run …

  1. This is so true. Especially for endurance runners, we totally get lost in the fray of what is or isn’t “a lot.” I think that the injuries that I have had have dramatically contributed to my sense of perspective–I’ve caught myself getting caught up in the the whole “but I don’t run xx miles like xx does,” and then I remember how hard I have fought for those miles. How I used to consider 3 miles, or just 20 minutes, to be my cardio. But I think that in the same way that we need to respect what other people feel is far/a lot, they also need to respect what we consider is far/a lot, and that if we aren’t hitting those goals, it can be discouraging. But as I tell my husband, after he belittles his distance: a run is a run is a run. You should be proud of every mile. Just like pain is pain is pain. They might be different, but you should still respect it.

  2. A lot of what you said really rings true and how we quickly lose our perspective because what we do becomes our “new” normal. I actually talk about this a lot when I am teaching Group Power and how the goal is to always be progressing, getting stronger, finding a “new normal” in terms of weight factor, etc. Prior to having Ashton, I was MUCH more fanatic about my workouts and lack of rest days, etc.

    Now, I have much more balance and perspective because my time is not 100% my own anymore, but people still think I am crazy that I get up 3+ hours before I have to be in my office so I can get my workouts in and I find myself saying, “I only got in 4, 5, 6 miles in this morning” when co-workers ask me what my morning workout was. The look on their face tells me that they think I am nuts (I don’t disagree) but you are right, it IS a lot, but because I WAS running 13 miles before work when I was in training for Boston, a “relatively” quick 4-5 miles before work doesn’t feel SO drastic to me. It’s all about perspective and we have to be able to take a step back like you have to realize this.

    I know personally, I have dropped down to 3 days of running a week because it was becoming too much for me and now I do way more cross training (which has allowed me to get stronger and faster) making my runs more enjoyable. I have found that having to balance more time constraints with Ashton has allowed me to live a more balanced life (although busier). He gave me the much needed perspective that I needed! I am glad Danny helped put your quick run in perspective too!

    • Yay for perspective – it is always funny how it comes to us. It really is all about feeling our best, and I think that both exercise and fuelding go together for that – if you are eating to fuel a heavy regime but only doing moderate workouts, you won’t feel your best and will definitely feel like you ‘only’ did something.

      And just to prove I actually CAN listen I took a full rest day today πŸ™‚

  3. This is all so true. I seriously just think its normal now to run at least 3 miles 5-6 days a week but I do think of my 3-5 mile runs as “short”. It actually feels weird to run less than 10 miles on a Saturday! And you know its bad when people seem concerned when I don’t run on a day that I usually do.

    • haha – I definitely get the ‘what … you didn’t run today, are you ok’? haha – even yesterday when I rested after doing 23.5 miles on Saturday followed by 7.5 on Sunday! ha

  4. Hahaha this is great. I was reading a book recently where the main character had to run down her driveway to stop someone & the sentence ended with something along the lines of “she bent over gasping for air, feeling like she had just run a mile.” I couldn’t help but chuckle because a mile feels like nothing now.
    I never thought of how much we limit ourselves by blocking everything we don’t want to deal with, while subscribing to and following what we care most about. It’s almost a little sad to think about- we don’t have time for other peoples opinions anymore.

    • I remember having to run laps for football (punishment, of course) and it was awful. Now it seems like a challenge to hit the track and push myself. Perspective πŸ™‚

  5. Have you heard of the concept of the Daily Me? It describes what you’re talking about with being increasingly more able to surround ourselves with like-minded people online.

    I have definitely noticed this perspective shift. It happened when I joined MRun two years ago (U of Michigan Running Club). I see it happen with a lot of the less experienced runners who join the club, like myself. A lot of us get injured because we join the club, see how much other, faster people are running, and suddenly running 15-20 miles a week doesn’t seem like enough and our 8:30 pace isn’t fast enough and a 1:57 half marathon is slow. Wellll guess what, I have been injured basically this whole year, I can barely run 10-minute miles now, and I would LOVE to be able to run my old 1:57 half PR again. I attribute a lot of that to adopting such a skewed perspective about what is normal and what I should be doing.

    • I have heard of it … but I don’t always think that being so like-minded is a good thing πŸ™‚

      It is hard to regain perspective – you will always think ‘well I used to be able to …’. I haven’t hit the ‘downward age slope’ yet, and since I am still improving, it is all good for me πŸ™‚

  6. I tend to feel like what I’m doing isn’t as intense as it sounds to non runners. It’s easy to think that everybody is doing as much as me, especially when it comes close to race day. But, 3 years ago, I couldn’t have dreamed I’d be doing what I’ve done. Remembering that is key.

    • I like your first point — it’s true that sometimes non-runners think it’s some crazy challenging thing that I ran 8 miles before work, but honestly, I don’t think it’s that hard for anyone who wants to. Patience and consistence and prioritization.

      • Well, I don’t know about ‘anyone’ … too many people with bad joints or arthritis or other conditions that limit their ability to engage in aerobic activity … at least that I know πŸ˜‰

  7. Yes! Being relatively new to the running/fitness blog world I have noticed the shift. I used to be ACUTELY aware of how strange I am for what I do running wise, because everyone who knew about it would call me crazy (and be half joking at best.) Now in the blog world I feel pretty ordinary. Funny how that happens. My non-marathon-runner friends (all of my friends really) don’t let me forget I’m not typical in respect to my running behavior!

    • I do have friends on pretty much every project I’ve worked on for the last few years who are runners, so we all shaer warped stories and other shake their heads at us. But most people still think I am crazy πŸ™‚

  8. A-freaking-men. I really lose perspective when I’m marathon training. I tend to think, “oh yay, only 14 miles for my long run this week! I love cutback weeks!” …which is still a really long run for me ha. I’ve been trying to eliminate “only” from my vocabulary (as in I’m only running the half or I only have to run 8 miles today) this year for this reason, though, because it’s still a lot even when I’m not training for a full. It is something I’ve noticed other runners doing a lot though (“only running this far” or doing this length), and I’ve started to call my friends out on it. Don’t short change yourself. Whatever you can and choose to do is a whole lot better than doing nothing (normally), so be proud of it!

  9. Nursing this injury, I’ve learned I’m quite crazy. My 30-35 miles a week isn’t quite Mike level, but it is batshit crazy compared to literally everyone I know in the flesh. And admittedly, I like it that way. But I’m also learning that while I’m getting back to running slowly but surely, I’m subbing in other methods of exercise and…gasp! I’m not losing fitness. I’m not gaining weight. I’m actually quite happy because I’m getting several different kinds of exercise. So I guess to sum up my rambly comment, I’ve lost perspective lately, but also found some.

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