The Measurement of a Run (and it’s not miles or meters)

Today’s Run

Time – 55:41
Distance – 6.12 miles
Pace – 9:06 min/mi
Elevation – 167 ft.

It was a “get out and run” day. It was breezy, cold, and sunny, which makes for a cool, but comfortable, run. The distance wasn’t bad, but I was tired and wanted to be done from the beginning, although it was a little easier in the middle. About mile 4 I didn’t want to do it anymore, but I had to get home, so I was able to just keep going.

Is It Just Another Run?

Sometimes, a run is just a run. There’s not much special for it, other than time spent on your feet. And, on those days when running doesn’t seem like a good idea anymore, loops are better than out-and-backs. With a loop, you have to keep going to get home. Out-and-backs allow you to turn around at any time. The days with mental challenges are the days that I, personally, need a loop course. I have to be able to force myself to keep going in order to get home.

It seems to me that thinking about more things in life as a loop would be helpful. One can’t turn around at any point and start just bringing it in when it comes to life. If that’s the case, then you’re mailing it in, which is not a recipe for success. Seeing the path as a loop means that you won’t see the same thing twice until you get to the end.

Life is different as you go through it. Everyday brings something that you haven’t seen before. We rarely get to go back the way we came, and, even then, it’s still changed in one way or another.

Sometimes when I go running, I pick a new loop, and I don’t know how far I have to go until the end. I have to expend my energy in a measured way in order to be sure that I can get back without injury or severe bonking. In life, I need to make sure that the effort I put in doesn’t wear me out too much, or I lose focus, desire, and the drive to get things done. Bonking on the run is like burnout in real life. Too much will wear you down.

Success is a measured effort put out over time to accomplish goals. Running success is the same. Consistent training over time will equal quality growth and increased ability. That’s why it’s never “just another run.” It’s the measured effort.

Why I Hate Running

Yesterday’s Run

Time – 41:15
Distance – 4.24 miles
Pace – 9:43 min/mi
Elevation – 187 ft.

IMG_4905
Little Buddy hates running, too.

Easy day following a harder day. Just tried to keep my pace from speeding up into the tempo run range. It didn’t feel bad at all, and my legs were really solid. I’ll be back into the rhythm soon.

Why I Hate Running

To be clear, I don’t hate running all the time. I hate a lot of things about it, though.

I hate that I’m still trying to get away from the fat kid I was when I was younger, and he seems to always be right behind me. I don’t remember him being that fast, or having this kind of endurance. I keep getting pushed to get out the door because I need to put him in the rearview mirror and keep him there.

I hate that it seems to take forever to get faster, despite all evidence to the contrary. Last year in July, I was running 2.5 miles at 12–13 minute per mile pace. It’s 9 months later, I’m doing 8’s and 9’s for my miles, and I know that 12–15 miles is a reasonable long run. Perspective is hard to get when you do something regularly without taking time to sit back and view the work being done.

I hate the fact that I like doing this so much that I find myself daydreaming about taking a run when I’m in the car on the way to work, or in the evenings while winding down from the day, or that I find myself running in my dreams. This is getting a little obsessive.

It is, however, pretty cool that get to keep running, in spite of the fact that I seem to hate it so much. Maybe I’ll go for a run after breakfast…

Running Isn’t Simple, Is It?

Today’s Run

Time – 38:30
Distance – 4.30 miles
Pace – 8:56 min/mi
Elevation – 131 ft.

confused-muddled-illogical-disoriented

Got out the door again, despite the desire to stay in. Ran a little harder than I needed to, but it felt good. Just a quick out and back to get the routines down again.

Running isn’t simple, is it?

Running seems like it should just be a simple thing. You put on shoes, shorts, and a shirt, and go run. It’s like that most days. Maybe a treadmill if necessary, or a long shirt or hat if cold, but the process is simple.

Sometimes, though, it’s a lot more complicated. There’s the bargaining, the convincing, the affirmations that “Just do it, you’ll feel better. Promise!” It can be a chore that seems like it never ends, because you know that you have to do it again tomorrow. It can be like a thief that steals time, daylight, or the ability to get work done around the house. It can involve watches that track everything but spy satellites, running clothes that wick and comform and don’t smell, and shoes that were designed by NASA and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

Running isn’t hard, though, because running isn’t the outcome. It’s the means. That’s where my confusion was for a long time, and still is on occasion. I don’t run because of the run. I run for the other things. Years with my wife and kids because of health. A body that is stronger and will not fail me as quickly. A mind that needs the relaxing quiet I find on the roads and trails. My outcomes from running are the reason I run.

That Wasn’t Pleasant

Today’s Run

Time – 39:01
Distance – 4.25 miles
Pace – 9:11 min/mi
Elevation – 121 ft.

pexels-photo-220147

The first real sunshine in 10 days means that it’s time to go running. This was the first run in almost 2 weeks, and I paid the price for it. Nothing too hard or too fast, but I’m definitely going to have to work to get my legs back. Pace was bearable, and I wasn’t pushing too much.

A series of unfortunate delays

I’ve been asked by friends and acquaintances more than a few times over the last 2 months, “What happened to the blog?” There’s no one answer to that, of course, as life doesn’t really consist of one thing.

  1. We bought the house and moved in, which has been an adventure, to say the least. Moving everything you own every 2–3 years gets really old, and this time seemed to take a lot longer than most. Maybe that’s because we know we won’t have to do it again for a long time, unless the unfortunate happens. Until then, we’ve got a house! It fits our family just right, is in a decent neighborhood for running, and a great neighborhood for everything else.
  2. It’s been raining more this spring than I can remember, and I have NO motivation for treadmill running. That doesn’t help at all, and so I’ve left a lot of running days on the table.
  3. I’ll be skipping the marathon/half-marathon this spring. All of these other things have required that I jettison a couple of items, and this is one that has to go. I’m disappointed in myself, but I know that, based on what my running is really starting to look like, I’ll be pleased with the times I can put together when I get the next race in.
  4. My Master’s thesis has been postponed to the fall. This just hasn’t been able to happen due to work and family needs, and was the other thing that I’ve pushed off, besides the race. I go to a great school, and my advisor and the department chair have been helpful with getting my schedule adjusted. I’m very grateful.
  5. Finally, there’s the family. Because of all the things that I haven’t been doing, I’ve been spending that extra time I’ve had with them, and it’s been amazing! Baby Girl is growing so fast! Little Buddy is turning into a whole new personality, thanks to time in the program at his school! The Teenager is 15 now, and we talk about cars, which is scary to say the least. And, above all, I’ve gotten more time with The Wife, which makes me happy.

All in all, the trade off between running and life has been worth it. I’m okay with the way this has gone, even though I’m not getting out the door or blogging as much as I would like. The running hasn’t gone away completely; I’ve run 12 times in the past 8 weeks, so I’ve been getting it done a little bit, but nowhere near the numbers I’d like to see. I’m 187 miles behind pace for 1500 this year.

It’s time to get back on track.

Ben Kenobi was Right

Today’s Run

Time – 57:23
Distance – 5.78 miles
Pace – 9:56 min/mi
Elevation – 187 ft.

pexels-photo-131045

Slightly warmer means outdoor run. Easy pace for 40–60 minutes before tomorrow’s workout. It was hard to keep up the pace, and my legs felt heavy. Not tired, just heavy. The food intake the last couple of days hasn’t been the best, so I’m pretty sure that’s not helping.

I love waffles

To be more precise, I love gluten-free, blueberry toaster waffles. Cook two of them twice so they’re crispy, cover one in chocolate hazelnut spread, and the other in apple cider or strawberry vanilla jam…I could eat these everyday.

But that wouldn’t be healthy, of course. They’re calorically dense, have limited nutritional value relative to fruits and vegetables, and get a little pricy when not on sale at the supermarket. They are good though.

I’m realizing that my running was starting to look the same. 40–60 minutes of comfortable running 4 days a week with another “long run” that’s 75–90 minutes isn’t a menu for success and growth. It’s, at best, maintenance. I’d probably get a little faster, but not much. And it would take a really long time to get there.

There’s a running site out there called Let’s Run. It is probably the best source for track and field/road running news on the planet. These guys get it right. They also have their World Famous Message Boards. These are probably the worst place for anything resembling reality. Think of it this way, the message boards are the Mos Eisley cantina of the internet. In other words, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Be cautious.

There are, however, nuggets of truth and good information sprinkled throughout the trolls, smugglers, posers, and self-proclaimed near-Olympians. I’ve read more than a few reports of people who, having run the same every day, didn’t improve much over a period of time. When adding speed work and more definitive long runs, they jumped in speed and endurance. This is the real live data I’m seeking.

Of course, the old adage, “Your mileage may vary” applies, but the intention of looking here isn’t to figure out how fast I’m personally going to get. It’s to reinforce the idea that the workouts matter, even when tired legs get in the way, or the desire to run in the cold isn’t there, or the treadmill starts to look like a medieval torture device. It’s the motivation that if I just keep running, things are going to happen.