On junk miles

I’m at the apex of what has turned into a 22-week marathon training block. This week is a down week. Next week is my final peak week before tapering. Regardless of it being a down, build-up, or peak week, Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays are usually, in my head, the hard days. Wednesday runs are usually just base miles. Some people call those types of runs “junk miles.” As if they don’t matter. They’re sometimes considered obligatory miles to stack onto an aggregate number of workouts and miles in a microcycle.

Usually, when I’m out on a run I think about random things in short blips. Sometimes I don’t think about anything at all. Often I think about running. Today I thought about work, family, and running. Today I thought about the non-consequential “junk miles” run that I was presently in.

It was hard to get going this morning. I’m still beat up from Sunday’s 20-miler. My left hip is feeling it. The outside of my right foot hurts. My calves and thighs hurt. Yesterday’s tempo run was tough. And then I realized that I’m in the thick of it right now. That apex. Things are going to hurt and runs are going to be hard. Even the 6 easy junk miles on a Wednesday.

I was once told that “no run matters.” That means that life happens and that if you have to miss a run or a workout for any reason, be it injury, illness, work, life events, or just not feeling it, then it doesn’t matter. There’s no sense in beating yourself up because you can’t follow your prescribed plan to a tee. You’ll only set yourself up for setbacks down the road.

Today’s run mattered. It’s those little runs. The base miles. The “junk miles.” It was difficult for me to settle in this morning because I’m in the throes of a training plan. My body is relearning to keep going despite the discomfort and fatigue.

This morning was not the run where I thought I’d come to this realization. Usually the notion of “getting comfortable being uncomfortable” sets in on a really long haul. It’s interesting how I can be very regimented and come to expect specific outcomes and realizations, but instead, my expectations are met with what is completely out of my control.

No run matters. But every run matters.