A friend of mine recently signed up for a 10-mile run and I was inspired to write about that today.
Now, that distance can be intimidating. It's double digits. It's funny because it's only one more than nine but 10 miles seems so much more than nine, so much more difficult, challenging and more of an accomplishment. I ran 10 miles probably about two months ago now and I remember thinking at mile 9 that I'd probably never run another 9-miler again. It's so close to 10 and 10 is more impressive, that why stop at 9?
Anyway, I've gotten to at least 10 miles I'd say around five times. With the Lopers, I'm going to run 10 miles on five consecutive weekends beginning in September, so I'll quickly surpass that figure but that doesn't make it any less of a feat.
Ten miles is around the distance where the runners separate themselves from each other. Six miles, seven miles... that's all good and long runs and all but once you get to 10, you are in rarefied air. That's a distance to be proud of, whether you are a veteran or beginner.
But the best thing about 10 miles is that it's attainable, and relatively quickly if you've never run 10 miles. The best way to go about that is to increase your mileage week by week, and slowly. The last thing you want to do is go from running 2-3 miles regularly and then try and crank out a 10-miler. That won't work. You can injure yourself easily or become so demoralized you'll quit.
If you run 2-3 miles, or 3-4 regularly, try increasing your mileage every weekend. So run five miles one weekend. Go for six the next. Then seven. Then eight and nine until you are ready for 10. Don't try and set any speed records either. You should try and run your first 10-miler without being concerned about speed or time or anything - just git 'er done.
You could also do it even more slowly than that if it's too intimidating. Try running five miles on consecutive weekends (Saturday or Sunday, or whenever your long run day is); then go up to six for two straight long runs, and seven and so on. That could help you mentally as it might not seem like such a Herculean task if you approach it slowly. Then, you can also trick yourself. In Mile 6 of your second straight six-miler, you might decide to go for seven.
Ten miles is a tough distance, an intimidating one but also something tangible to shoot for. It can also open the door for longer races, possibly a half-marathon or even the full distance.
If nothing else, you'll add another accomplishment to likely growing list of them.