Running Isn’t Simple, Is It?

Today’s Run

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

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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.

Ben Kenobi was Right

Today’s Run

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

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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.

Welcome to the Machine

Today’s Run

Time – 45:01
Distance – 4.55 miles
Pace – 9:53 min/mi
Elevation – N/A

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Mental toughness can be the weakest link…

Easy run on the treadmill. Still working on the stiffness in the legs from the hard run on Sunday. I thought I was going to have to stop, but once the blood got flowing, everything really eased up. Apparently, I didn’t cool down enough. I need to make that more of a part of the routine.

Now that THAT’S over…

The move to the half marathon has really relaxed my mind and made me much more comfortable about the training for the next 10 weeks. I know that I can do the distance. That’s something I feel will be the easiest part. The speed and concentration to keep pace the whole time will be the struggle, which is probably a good thing. I need to work on my mental toughness.

Endurance events really are about how long you can stay mentally tough, if you set your pace and goals correctly. There’s no way that I could ever run a 50 minute half marathon; no human could. I also don’t have a 1:15 in the tank right now. But, with a little more speed work and a whole lot of mental focus to push through the discomfort, I think that a 1:50 isn’t out of the question for April 7th. My last workout was 8 miles at 8:45/mile pace, which is about a 1:55 half marathon. A 1:50 half is 8:25/mile pace. That’s going to be doable. So that’s goal number two.

Goal number one is a PR. My best half marathon is 2:29 (net time, 2:34 gun time). That’s the time I need to beat most of all. I can be faster than that.

Goal number two may change as training shows me more. Do I think a 1:45 is on the table? I don’t know. That’s 8:00 miles for 13.2, which is a little fast for me right now. But we’ll find out!

More Workouts, and a Change

Today’s Run

Time – 1:10:03
Distance – 8.00 miles
Pace – 8:45 min/mi
Elevation – 148 ft.

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What are you going to do?!

Hard workout. 1 mile warmup, then 7 hard miles at half marathon effort. i felt like i was really working at this one. it took a lot, but i was really pleased with how it came together. I think that a 1:50 half marathon isn’t out of the question at this point.

So I’ve made a decision

After some deliberation, I’ve decided that I’m going to change from the marathon to the half marathon in April. With the move, the arrival of Baby Girl, Master’s work, and some job changes, time is going to get away from me. I haven’t been able to add to my mileage as much as I would hope, which is a function of life as much as anything else. Rather than go into the marathon just trying to hang on, I’d like to work hard at getting faster in the half and putting up a good number of which I can be proud. My half marathon PR is around 2:20, which I set back in 2005. I think it’s time to make that number look a lot better.

This means a shift to a new workout program through Strava, which will start on Monday. Here’s to getting after it!

When the Weather Is Good

Today’s Run

Time – 53:04
Distance – 5.64 miles
Pace – 9:24 min/mi
Elevation – 118 ft.

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At least it’s not raining men…

Easy day, post workout. 40–50 minutes. I went a bit long, but I felt really good the whole time. My achilles are a little sore this morning, but nothing that I have to worry about.

Let the sunshine in

Weekends are great, because running in the sun becomes an option. Not only that, but I get to run in shorts, outside, when the weather is nice. Score!

Random side-note: My 7 week old daughter, Baby Girl, loves to listen to the soundtrack to Pocahontas in her rocking seat. She first heard it in the hospital when she had RSV at 3 weeks. She’s gonna be a Disney princess for Halloween, every year. I can tell.

No dinosaurs and pirates for this dad anymore…