One weekend morning in 2012 I got up and said to myself, "I am going to run farther than I have ever run before." And I did: I ran 4 miles. It felt like An Accomplishment. It feels odd to type that sentence, because now 4 miles is no big deal. A 4- or 5-mile run would be longer than average for a weeknight run, but the idea has lost its novelty. And along with the novelty, much of its difficulty has faded away as well. (I mean, mostly. I have certainly done dumb and painful 5-mile runs. It was a big deal the day that I decided I was going to do 5 10-minute miles, because I am too slow for that nonsense. I finished the run, but I wobbled miserably off the treadmill afterward.)
A couple of years ago I posted about how six miles felt like A Project, but I wished it didn't. About ten days ago I went out for a six-mile run, and it wasn't a big deal. "Hurray!" I thought to myself. "Progress!" But then on Sunday I went out planning to run 7 miles, and discovered that 7 miles is the beginning of Long and Painful territory for me. It was partially because I didn't eat enough breakfast, but it was also partially because 7 miles is kind of a long way to run. It was probably mostly because I just haven't done as many 7-mile runs. The novelty remains, or at least some of it does. So does the difficulty.
I was counting on my fingers, trying to figure out just how novelty ebbs. I've done 15 runs in my life that were 6 miles or longer, and 10 that were 7 miles or longer. I guess that tells me: the spot where recalibration from "long" to "not actually all that long" happens is somewhere in the low double digits.
This summer I'd probably like to do the half-marathon training program at my local running store again, which will require me to do another 7 runs of 7 miles or more. I'll have to report back about how my perception of "long" changes.