This last Saturday of April had me running solo for my final “taper” run before the OC Marathon next Sunday.

An "interesting" word.

An “interesting” word.

It was a fun and leisurely jaunt in Griffith Park and around Glendale on a beautiful spring morning (fortunately the rainy weather left the area earlier than forecast). But rather than talk about the run itself (remember, fun and leisurely) I’d rather bring attention to one word from a conversation about the run that I had yesterday.

Say what now?

On Friday, one of my friends asked how far I was going to be running on Saturday. Without skipping a beat, I matter-of-factly replied:

“Only 8 miles.”

They rolled their eyes at me (my friends seem to do that rather often) and repeated one word: “Only?”

I smiled. “Only.”

You see, the reason I like saying “only” like it’s no big deal is because not too long ago in my life it was a big deal.

A really big deal.

Back in the fall of 2008, when I first started training with Team to End AIDS (it was called AIDS Marathon back then) the furthest I had EVER run at one time in my life was 6.2 miles (I’d done a few 10Ks). That’s it.

As our group of 100 or so terrified newbie runners crowded around our running coach (Coach Scott Boliver), he broke down our training schedule for the entire marathon season. Our miles were going to increase incrementally for the first several weeks… 3,4,5,6,7 and so on.

We're running HOW far?

We’re running HOW far?

No one was freaking out yet… yet.

As the numbers started getting higher and higher, climbing into the double digits (10, 12, 14), the trepidation on our faces grew with it.

And then Coach Scott said that after we did a long run of 14 miles one week, we’d follow it up with a short recovery run the next week of “only” 8 miles.

Nervous laughter spilled from the group when we heard “only” and “8 miles” in succession. In what crazy universe do “only” and “8 miles” go together?

Coach Scott took notice and he said something I’ll never forget:

“You laugh now, but if you stick with your marathon training there will come a day when you add the word ‘only’ when you’re referring to 8 miles.”

And damn if he wasn’t right.

It didn’t happen overnight; it took a lot of time and effort, but eventually that day did come for each of us.

Holding the ocho.

Holding the ocho.

So five years later I regard an 8 mile run as the demarkation point between a short and long run.

Yup, 8 miles is what I consider my “shortest long run” (or is it my “longest short run”). For me, anything under 8 miles has no business being scheduled on a Saturday morning.

Now for some of you 8 miles might seem long or conversely rather short (just like what’s a slow pace for one runner might be blisteringly fast to another).

The point is, if you stick with something long enough and work at it, what once seemed difficult (or next to impossible) will become doable… or maybe even “only.”

So, today I did a fun “short” Saturday run jamming out to my iPod. It was only 8 miles.

Oh, and you’re still allowed to roll your eyes. I’m used to it by this point… and it makes me smile.

Run on!







Posted on April 26, 2014, in General, Motivation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Great job on your 8 miles!!! I get what you’re saying about it being a “short, long run” for you! 🙂

  2. I can totally relate to this! 8 miles is a short “long run” for me these days, when a while ago it seemed so much and so undoable. Yay to making progress!

  3. I definitely get that – for 23 years I was running casually ~12-15 miles per week, just to keep the weight off and stay in basic shape. Never ran more than 5 miles, and even then only 2 times (again, across 23 years). Then two years ago I got ‘serious’ about distance, and have done races, marathons and so on. Not a speed demon, but I love my distance running – my ‘default’ daily route is 6.75 miles … which is weird to look back on.

    My family is a constant reality check that I have absolutely no perspective on distance anymore! 🙂

    • Crazy good, isn’t it? Yeah, it is fun to talk to my non-running friends who just give me that “you’re crazy” look whenever I tell them what I’m running… fortunately, for all the crap my buddies give me, at the end of the day they are some of my biggest supporters.

  4. Be careful…when you “only” do 8 miles, all the other miles might start to feel neglected. be sure to give them some love next week. 😉

  5. I agree! I am training for my first half marathon or rather tapering for it right now, it’s 6 days away but when we first began, anything over 3 miles was a struggle. Now we ran 6 this past Saturday and it didn’t even seem worth getting out of bed for in comparison to the longer runs we’ve done.

  6. Wow you are right.

    This is a great post and I can relate completely. It’s so funny how we lose perspective after a while when things become normal or every day routine to us.

    • It is funny how things were once so tough become easy to us…I use it as motivation when taking on something new (remember how hard it used to be to run 8 miles). I also like saying the “only” because it reminds me of my running coach Scott, who passed away. If you check back to one of my first posts in January I talk about how much he meant to me. Well, tomorrow I’m “only” running 26.2 miles (think it’ll work if I use “only” there) and hoping to PR and break 5 hours. Wish me luck.

      • Good luck with the race – but then it is ONLY 26.2 miles, so I don’t see the problem.

        Here is a strategy suggestion for you – spent the first ~1/4 mile establishing your overall pace you want to have for the race. Then just do THAT for the next 26 miles. Simple! 😀 haha

        Seriously – good luck and look forward to the summary!

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