Sunday, January 21, 2007

What was it like to run 20 miles?

Four weeks into my 16 week marathon training for Boston, I ran my first 20 mile run this past Saturday.
I think running 20 miles in 20 degrees with strong head winds wore on me physically and mentally. My face was frozen and legs were tired after 16 miles. I had to have positive mental thoughts expressed verbally in order to finish the run. I began to think what happens to you mentally when you're involved in a long run. I'm sure there are more writings to define the effects of mental stress from endurance activities but I like this little article I found online at Mens Health

Behind the Science - Does running by yourself hurt your brain?
Edited by: David Schipper
The study: Research at Princeton University suggests that exercising alone hinders neurogenesis, the creation of new brain cells. Rats that lived alone and exercised alone showed a loss of brain cells; those that lived and exercised in a group showed an increase. Researchers speculate that having a partner blunts the cell die-off that typically occurs when the brain reacts to the stress of exercise.

A closer look: It was a rat experiment, and the lonely rodent runners had to live alone, too. "Running is not at fault here, but the living in isolation that can cause the brain to deteriorate is," says Charles Hillman, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at the University of Illinois who has studied the effects of exercise on the human brain. When Hillman measured cognitive function in men who had exercised in isolation for 30 minutes, he found improvements in their brain function. "It's a definite sign that your neurogenesis is not being negatively affected," he says.

Our advice: Run alone or with somebody. Either way, it's smart.

OK, but my spirits did get a little pick-up when someone driving by gave me a friendly wave and toot from the horn. And when another lone runner, coming from the opposite direction, said words of encouragement for running early in the morning cold. At that point I realized I need someone to run long with. I feel much better when there is someone else I can share the pain with. But if I have to go at it alone, maybe it'll make me tougher and that my neurogenesis will not be negatively affected, I should be OK.


Samantha B said...

I started running with a group of people a few years ago and in prep for my first marathon. In all honesty, I couldn't run alone then. I had all these negative thoughts in my head and they prevented me from pushing myself. Luckily, after I proved to myself I could go the distance, I started running alone and enjoying the time to think. I agree with you, I think group runs are fun, but we also have to train ourselves to being able to push it when we don't have the encouragement of others. At least that's what this newbie is learning!

Neese said...

my brother would love to run with you i'm sure, but he is not ready for 20 miles... maybe you guys could meet though and do some shorter runs until he's ready he's over in Lorain County... let me know if this interests you

JeffM said...

Your wife didn't want to ride along with you even in the freezing cold?
You're at that level where it's hard to find people who can keep up with you.

JenC said...

I wish I could run with you, but I'll never be that fast. Maybe join the Second Solers every once in awhile. They're a good group.

colleen said...

Long runs are so hard solo. I too enjoy the horn toots!

Tri-Dummy said...

Cool article. Does the TV on or MP3 player count as group training? :)

Brian said...

I'd be happy to join you for all or part of your long runs! Perhaps your next 20 miler!

Cliff said...

Papa Louie,

I often justify that if i can run in cold weather, running in hot won't be so bad.

I give u credit for sticking it out. Ever since my family got a treadmill, I have been slacking and not go out. But I need to brave the element :)

Lana said...

Misery loves company!!

Deb said...

Whatever happens...DO NOT let your neurogenesis be effected! ;)
What a tuff run. Kudo's to you!

Kim said...

20 miles is just a state of mind. But congrats for getting it done in such condtions!!

DaisyDuc said...

Interesting post.

Personally I don't like to do much over 12 alone and will drive a good distance to meet with others just to have company for some of my long run.

Way to remain positive on this long, cold run!