While I understand the benefit of speed work and know that a 5K could really improve my marathon time, I can’t get past my pure love of longer runs.

My definition of long has changed dramatically over the years as I’ve grown into my running legs. Twelve years ago, three miles felt unbearably long, Then eight, 13, then one day 18 miles started to feel oddly normal.

Since transplanting to Florida where summer is the year-round experience, 18 can be a bit daunting, but 10 miles never gets old. I’d run it every day if time and body permitted.

On these runs you don’t quite cross into the mental stamina required of a peak marathon training long run of 16-20 miles, and you don’t need to push the speed like a shorter 6-mile tempo workout.

Instead, you can allow your body to settle into a comfortable pace and simply enjoy being able to run.

It sounds cliché, and maybe even a little absurd to “enjoy being able to run.” But any runner who has ever been injured will tell you that PRs become far less important when you’ve had time to realize how much simply being able to run improves your life.

And for that reason, today I give you my love letter to long runs …

Dear long run,
I love you for keeping my thighs strong and lean.
I love you for not caring about what I wear or how bad my hair looks.
I love you for making my size 11 feet feel like an advantage (keeps me from falling over).
I love you for giving me the confidence to do other scary things in life.
I love you for making it acceptable to be a sweaty mess.
I love you for asking me to push beyond my perceived boundaries.
I love you for making me slightly uncomfortable.
I love you for giving me time to myself to think or not, either is acceptable.
I love you for giving me an excuse to soak in the tub.
I love you for making me feel like I could outrun a purse thief (though maybe that speed work would be a good idea).
I love you for proving that runner’s high is a real thing and fully legal.
I love you for kick starting my creative process every day. If I could just remember all the ideas …
I love you for making it possible to eat a little more chocolate than I should.
It’s true we’ve had our bad days where I’ve cursed you or cried or thrown my hands up in exasperation. But really, even those runs have become part of what makes our bond so strong, they each remind me to cherish the good runs.
Each day I get to run is a blessing because it reminds me how far I’ve come, how far I have to go and that I can get there one step at a time.

Gotta run,

Amanda