Sunday, September 7, 2008

getting over the 3, 4 mile hump

emma brought up such a good question in wednesday's post ... when does running get easy? when does that 3 or 4 miler feel like no big deal? when can you take on more mileage? it's a hard question to answer, which is why i wanted to ask it here.

can you remember your first four miler? can you remember the first time you said "i'm just going out for four miles?" what happened in between those runs?

my first four miles was with jeni on a trail in san mateo running along the san francisco bay, just under the san mateo bridge. i kept thinking to myself "ok, it's only two miles out, and then two miles back". but those two miles out, and then two miles back felt like an ETERNITY! i remember finishing the run just before dusk, feeling exhausted but like a true rock star. i think we got a jamba juice to celebrate. fast forward a few months later, and a four miler was my easy run on thursdays at rancho san antonio. what happened in between? lots of running. lots of discomfort, and i think the key: longer runs. don't be afraid to try a 6 miler (or maybe longer), even if you've got to walk a bit (or a lot) and suffer, it will push your endurance levels and make that 4 miler feel like a piece of cake.

well, that's my theory. what do you think?


  1. i love it when it gets to the point when i am saying: "i'm just going out for a 4 miler". i agree, i think it's just adding more mileage, and doing that more often. if you are running 6 and 8 miles consistently throughout the week, instead of having those be your long runs, then a 4 miler turns into a piece of cake. the other thing to do, is start doing workout runs at 5 or 6 miles, then doing a shorter, non-workout run, is seriously a snap! of course, you always have those bad days, where even a 3 or 4 miler is a struggle... i hate those days!

  2. i agree with julia and the other person that commented. also, before i started running long distance, four miles is what i was doing about 3-4 times a week. for me, going a little bit further after that didn't kill me and i think that happened for a couple reasons. first, i routinely did a sprint work-out of some sort on the days when i wasn't doing my four-miler. whether that was just taking a mile or so much faster or even doing hill sprints to let off steam. also, i was lifting (and always have been lifting) twice a week. i guess what i'm saying is that if you're able to take time to strengthen those muscle groups in other ways, you'll find that your running will become a little less painful.

  3. p.s. i hope it's okay that i'm barging into your running conversation. thursday will be my last run for a while (baby's getting too big), so i have to get my fix somehow!

  4. jamie, you're not barging in AT ALL. comment anytime. i love your input.

  5. Welcome, Jamie!!

    My first 4-miler was at Sawyer Camp Trail and I remember thinking I was never going to get to the end. It was sooooo long. But 3 weeks later I was up to 8-milers and suddenly 4 miles didn't seem so bad. So I agree--if you think 4 seems like a super long run, go run 6. Seriously. If you're running 4, you can run 6. And once you've run 6 a couple times, 3 or 4 doesn't seem like very much.

    And like Whitney said--there will be days when 4 feels like FOREVER, no matter how many times you've run more than that. But that's not the distance necessarily. That's just an off day.

    So go run 6! (And don't even bother with 5. I say go straight to 6.)

  6. love it molly. skip 5 all together. it is soooo true.

    i also think your mind preps for the run you've got to take on for the day. it's amazing what your body will do when you've got 16 or 18 for the week. then when you've only got 3 or 4, that's what your body is prepped to do . it's a weird phenom. maybe i'll do a separate post about it .......