Tonight I slogged through nine miles of sore running. I'm not injured, or sick, and last week I did my first 100 mile week in a long time, maybe three years. I remember the days when I was younger doing 100 mile weeks and I remember the great workouts. Running 6:15 pace and having a conversation, running a 20:12 6k tempo, running 5:30 miles like they are easy. It's easy to forget the days like today, where every foot step was a struggle, when it is hard to get out the door, when 8 minute mile pace is as fast as I'm going to go. Yet as I struggled out there for more than an hour the hazy memories of soreness, exhaustion, and heavy steps came flooding back. All of those forgettable days I've had with those dreary runs, came back to me like a long lost fortune. Some people call these junk miles, but I did an 8k in 29:43 yesterday! Today my legs didn't want to run, they wanted more recovery. By running I slightly increased the damage, the microtears, in my leg muscles. My body will react by working harder to heal those muscle fibers and make them stronger.
There are a lot of lonely, forgettable, slow runs when a person is trying to be as fast as he can be. Yet in many ways those are the runs that make the race. When I am exhausted at hour 23 on December 10th in Phoenix, I really want my legs to keep running, and days like today make that moment easier.