I am somewhat risk-averse. I remember the first time I ever set out on a long run back in 2010, while training for my first marathon. I felt intimidated, but darn it, I was determined to have the situation under control.
Strapped to my body were more gadgets than a one man band. I had a Garmin to track my pace & mileage, heart rate monitor, body glide to prevent chafing, a fuel belt equipped with four water bottles, gels, my phone and headphones for entertainment, visor, sunglasses, compression socks, and new shoes.
In hindsight, I had probably added at least 5 pounds of equipment to carry, along with the hassle of having to deal with it all later on in the run when I was exhausted. Half-full, sloshing water bottles, bouncing sunglasses, a tangled headphone wire, and a whole lot of chafing from the heart rate monitor and compression socks.
Fast forward 7 years, and here I am, still subjecting myself to those long runs. This week’s was a 20-miler, but mileage was about all it had in common with the past. I still have my Garmin and shoes, but the majority of the other running gear is gathering dust in my closet.
I’ve come to realize that the less I have with me, the better I run. The more I leave to uncertainty, the better my problem solving skills. The less distraction, the more I can remain present. In fact, I now appreciate the process of a long run. There will come a point where the run will feel difficult, but it will remain manageable.
This week, I got tired around mile 15, and again at 18.5. Tired rarely means I’m out of breath, because I don’t run fast on long run days. Tired usually means my legs hurt, or I’m bored, or frustrated, or hungry, or cold (since it’s winter). In those moments, I take a deep breath and ask myself if I can still keep running, and usually the answer is yes.
Minimalism has influenced my long run strategy, because now I know I can get by with what I have. If it turns out that I need something more, I will figure out how to get it. This sure beats my runs of the past, where I brought everything ‘just in case’. Sure enough, I looked down at my Garmin and I had already passed 20 miles without even noticing. Minimalism makes everything feel more effortless to me these days.