Five Mile Freedom (+ A Sneak Peek Mini-Announcement!)

If you came to see me yesterday you know by now that I accomplished a nine-mile run this weekend. For the first time in my life. All my long runs here out will be new personal best distances, until I run my first big race — a half marathon — next month. Even though eight, nine, 10, 11, etc. miles have been on my calendar since I started this half training program over the summer, actually getting here has felt surreal.

I won't bore you with the beginnings of my life on the run (though you can read it here, if you'd like), but to say I never thought I'd be here is the biggest understatement of the month. When I first started running, and couldn't make it a mile without stopping, winded, hurting, nine miles wasn't even on my radar.

At the time, the distant goal in my mind, the goal I wouldn't really even let myself think on too often, was to run a 5k. That's 3.1 miles. The thought of being ready for one three months away was laughable.
But then I got there. And then I knew I would keep going, and longer distances took over the 5k as my "big deal" distances. Once I knew I could run three miles comfortably, I began anticipating the day I could do five miles the same way. Even from three, five looked tough. I think there's just something about certain numbers. Five is one of those that just feels... solid. I don't know, I don't think I can explain it much better than that. But as a young runner, I couldn't wait for the day I could casually say I had just run five miles, no big deal. Though it felt at times like that day would never come.

My nine-miler on Sunday was one of the best runs of my life. I was quick (for me), I felt strong, I was so happy. It was a beautiful night and my town is so precious. It was the kind of run that makes a person who runs a runner. It was every reason I keep lacing up, all rolled up into one jaunt through town.

I ran to my alma mater and past the campus that looks almost unfamiliar to me now, for all the new additions and renovations. I ran past an iris memorial garden that I've passed by car thousands of times, but saw differently from my closer (and slower) viewpoint. I ran through one of my town's many quaint and pretty parks, past a soccer practice, family picnics, first-date walks, and solo strolls. I ran past dog-walkers, runners, bikers, sidewalk chalkers, plant waterers, and chatting neighbors. And I could have run for another hundred years.

During my run, I shaved a little more than three minutes off my previous (unofficial) best five-mile run time. I wasn't aiming for that. Generally, in runs over four miles, I don't worry so much about time; I'm still working on just being comfortable at longer distances. But when I got that dose of reality — three minutes off! — I started thinking about how five miles used to feel so unreachable. I thought about how earlier last week I had a sixer and a five-miler scheduled back-to-back nights, and when I first stepped out for the six I decided halfway through that I would swap them "just do" five because I wanted to take it easier that night.  Five miles was my taking it easy last Wednesday.

Five months ago, five miles was my holy grail. It scared me and excited me at the same time. Remembering things like this, relative to where I am as a runner now, is easily one of my biggest motivators. The thing about running is that all you have to do to be good at it is... do it. And just keep doing it. And do it even when you don't want to, and even when it's a little too hot, or there's something good on TV, and even when yesterday's run sucked and you want to never lace up again because what's the point in running if you suck at it? The point is that practice really does make perfect. Well, maybe not perfect. I'm no Shalane. But it does make you the best you can be.

And it makes your once-impossible sights and goals into realities. Here's hoping I can carry this attitude into the weekend, where I'll go for double-digit mileage for the first time in my life.

And in this spirit, I want to give a sort of sneak-peak announcement about something Tracy and I are working on. She and I are both in training for big races this fall — me, the half marathon; Tracy, the Richmond Marathon. We like to talk about our training with one another, and a good deal of our readers seem to like sharing their training wins and woes with us too. So we're proposing a monthly blog party where we can all link up to talk about our training goals, spread some always-appreciated motivation, encouragement, and support, and hear about what everyone's working toward.

Whether you've got a race or a tri coming up, whether you're just trying to touch your toes through a new yoga practice, whether you're trying to hit that next deadlift goal, or whether you just want to run one mile without stopping, we want you to share your training triumphs with us and others. We want to give us all a space to talk about what we're working for, introduce readers to others in similar boats and create a strong, motivational, supportive training community. All will be welcome — no goal is too big or too small.

We'll both share some more about the linkup details when we get closer, but for now I just want to know... are you in?


  1. I'm absolutely in for any link up you ladies do! Yay :) but seriously, still can't touch my toes.
    So happy for you for the PR - 3 minutes! - and coming so far. You're such an inspiration :) Makes me want to lace up and go for a run right now, but stupid work. I'll go after work - you have motivated me!

  2. Five miles was definitely my goal this year and after my first race I was so happy to check that one off! I think eventually I'd like to do a half marathon, but not sure I'll ever be able to run that far!! I haven't run in about a month and this makes me want to get out there and run!!

  3. YES YES YES!!!! This will get me in a gear. I doing super training with my sis in Australia and when I get back Ill be doing it daily! Training for a run in January! I'm in!!

  4. I'm in! I think you are doing the right thing when you worry less about time and more about comfort on the long runs. You have to build a strong base, and then once you have a solid base, the work on speed! Grrrrreat job! So excited to hear how the race goes!

  5. I have run plenty of 5k's in my life, but I recently signed up for my very first 10k! I'm so excited for the challenge, but nervous at the same time. I've ran 6 miles before, but not consistently like I should (or could) be. So, in the next couple months, I'm hoping to make 5 miles seem like nothing - just like you did :)

  6. High five, girlfriend! I look forward to living vicariously through you over the next month as you continue to hit new distance PR's every week ;) Isn't it amazing how you can see a place you've seen a hundred times before in a totally different way on a run? Or all of a sudden notice something you've never seen before? Powerful stuff!

  7. I think it's awesome you've become so dedicated to running. I've accepted that it will never be my "thing". What I DO need to work on is yoga. I actually enjoy that. Congrats on your 9 miles. You're going to rock this marathon!


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