Running Foolishly

Today’s Run

Time – 1:24:08
Distance – 8.5 miles
Pace – 9:52 min/mi
Elevation – 259 ft.

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Refinement – The Pursuit of Excellence

Nothing like the longer run of the week coming the day after a harder run. Not my best idea ever, but it didn’t hurt and this run was about 30 minutes shorter than it should have been, so that works out for keeping injury/fatigue at bay. My calves still feel crampy, which the chiropractor tells me is a function of a lack of calcium. I don’t think I can eat much more Greek yogurt, so I’ll have to figure something else out. This run was good. It was cold to start, and got warm, so the pants and double shirt were not really needed, despite the fact I started running when it was 44 degrees Fahrenheit. I could have done with a few more miles to get used to running tired. I have been feeling the struggle in the 13–15 mile range, which was right around 2–2.5 hours. I need to get used to running long runs in the 2.5–3 hour range if I’m going to see the success I want in the marathon, though.

Being foolish is the way to go

Epictetus said, “If thou wouldst make progress, be content to seem foolish and void of understanding with respect to outward things. Care not to be thought to know anything. If any should make account of thee, distrust thyself.” Source: Wikiquote

In other words, improvement requires trial-and-error, failure and another attempt, and dedication to the learning of the craft through action. Epictetus spoke about those who would only learn from books as being nothing at all. They have no true understanding, only the ability to repeat someone else’s knowledge. Those who continue to improve and grow are the ones who seem to constantly be learning AND doing. That is the meaning of the second part of the quote. Those who appear to be the most knowledgable are the ones who do not recognize how little they know. They think they have reached the end.

The ones who are constantly striving to be better are the ones who will get better. Discovering your own limitations and working to overcome them will do two things:

  1. You’ll understand how little you know;
  2. You’ll work to learn what you don’t know, thereby getting better than you were.

That’s the rub. It’s all about the constant work. You’ll have to put in time every day to get better at it, whatever it is. This is the result of pursuing THE GOAL. More work. And that’s how you make a difference.

It seems disheartening to think that you’ll never be done. By Epictetus’ standard, you’ll ALWAYS be working at whatever you are trying to master. But, for those who study a craft at which they want to be the best they can be, those people know that you’ll never be done. It doesn’t end. The pursuit of excellence doesn’t have a finish line. It’s about the refinement.

The best runners in the world, for example, are constantly running. They go out nearly every day and do the workout. Haile Gebrselassie, one of the greatest runners of all time, once said that he runs every day except Sundays and Christmas. That’s A LOT of running.

He’s 44, and he still runs. “I’m retiring from competitive running, not from running. You cannot stop running, this is my life.” Source: Wikipedia

Make being foolish your life.

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Hard Runs Hurt

Today’s Run

Time – 55:51
Distance – 6.1 miles
Pace – 9:09 min/mi
Elevation – 157 ft.

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The Definition

Nothing messes with my own personal brand of OCD more than finishing a run and being .1 or .2 short of some standard distance. I was .1 mile short of a 10k today, but this was a workout with a cool down, not a specific 10k run, so I have to let that go. Warm-up, then 3 miles HARD with cool-down. I went fast and really pushed, and my legs were a little sore at the end. Had to slow WAY down at the end of the 3 miles, which wasn’t good, but there were a few more hills than I wanted to have to work with today. All in all, a good run. I did the 3 miles at better than 8:41 pace (the middle mile was 8:10 pace), so I feel really good about that. Especially considering I ran it alone. I can keep hard paces by myself.

Pain is inevitable

Lots of reading, and watching of Sage Canady on YouTube, have given me the truth that I’m going to have to accept one way or another: Running is going to hurt a lot, eventually. I can keep running at a moderate-to-slow pace and get a little faster, and avoid most injuries, and enjoy the running, but I won’t reach my goals. I’m going to have to run hard some days, and I’m going to have to risk sore muscles, cramps, and potential extra days off. It’s the price of having big goals.

The concept here is something that extends into all other parts of life, doesn’t it? You can’t be really great at something without dedicating to it. That dedication, by definition, reduces your ability to do other things. It requires sacrifice. Participation in one thing takes time from all other things.

This is something that I’ve always struggled with. I want to be good at many things, but I have only so much time to work at them all. Thus, my hobbies have shifted constantly for many years while I try something new, get to know and understand it, do it a little while, and then move on. Some things I come back to, regularly. Reading, chess, school, and writing top the list. This is not my first blog, and not my first about running, either.

As for chess, don’t ask The Wife about that; she doesn’t like my mood when I lose a few games…

I’ve done this with running before, too. But, this time, it feels a little different. It feels more like the reading, the chess, or the writing. It’s something that moves the inside of me. It makes me want to learn and understand more about myself, and not about the subject at hand. I want to change myself to meet these challenges, not just do the challenges to check off the box and say that I did it. You can’t run 100 miles without having to be different than you were when you started, physically or mentally.

And THAT’S what dedication is. A willingness to change to meet your goals and expectation. A desire to be different in order to do different things. It’s about moving yourself to be something that can accomplish your goals.

What are you dedicated to doing?

Turkeys and Turnover

Today’s Run

Time – 1:09:26
Distance – 7.1 miles
Pace – 9:43 min/mi
Elevation – 240 ft.

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Pace Chart from Strava

All of my posts on runs seem to be coming the day after I actually do the run, but I’m still getting the data out there. I went out to do 7 miles, did 7.1, and felt great. Slow running, kept the heartrate down to make this a long recovery from the group run on Wednesday. It was windy on the way out, but there is a huge hill at the start of the second half, so no negative split.

Getting the legs to turnover

So…I figured out that it’s best to make sure that I check on the start of Thanksgiving dinner BEFORE I go on my run, otherwise, we end up 20 minutes late. Sorry, Mom!

Running on Wednesday, we were keeping a good pace on the way back in from the run, and I was having to push to keep up. As I was going, I experimented with a much quicker cadence than I normally get. I don’t have the ability to track it yet (it’s coming in the Christmas Gift), but I could tell I was moving the feet more. It had two affects: 1) the heartrate stayed much higher, and 2) I felt much smoother moving down the trail. It’s a trade-off, therefore. I don’t have the best cardio endurance and capacity yet. I’m still overcoming the years of fat. But if I can get the heart to be better/stronger/more efficient, which will take more long, slow runs, I’ll be able to increase my turnover and get more speed.

It’s not going to be about a big, long stride for me. My legs are short for my height, which will limit my stride length and overall top speed. But I’m not looking for the Olympics, here. I want to find 18:00-ish minute 5k pace. I’m looking to do 6:00/miles for 3 miles, which is an 18:38, or thereabouts. Will it happen? I don’t know, but I have to have a goal.

My Strava mile best on Wednesday went down again, too. 8:11 for a mile in the midst of a 5 mile run. I’m continuing to get faster. Is there a 6:00/mile in there, somewhere?

Giving Thanks

Today’s Run

Time – 44:56
Distance – 5.2 miles
Pace – 8:34 min/mi
Elevation – 72 ft.

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Out with the group at Runwell tonight. Sean and I went out fast, turned around a little earlier than the usual 3 miles out, and then came back quick. It was a good, hard run, and I enjoyed the company. Thanks, Sean!

Obligatory Thanks

It’s that day here in the U.S. where every blogger, Facebooker, Twitter user, and Instagram account will stop and give thanks for something. I can go through my list and talk about The Wife, Little Buddy, the Teenager, and Baby Girl. I can mention my job, my friends, a little Superhero I know, and all of the other things that make life enjoyable. I could even be super-predictable and mention how I am thankful for running.

All of these are good things, and I am thankful for all of them. But I am most thankful for the fact that we all get to be thankful. We are all so busy, and lives are so full, that its hard to stop and remember to pay attention to those things in our lives that require or deserve thanks. We have a day set aside to do so.

Of course, we should be thankful everyday. To make sure to give away a day for thankfulness is a wonderful way to spend those hours. Especially if you get to do it with family and friends. I will be together here today with mine, enjoying our time and fellowship together. I hope you get to do the same.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Running in Circles

Today’s Run

Time – 1:06:24
Distance – 6.6 miles
Pace – 10:02 min/mi
Elevation – 199 ft.

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Little Buddy is pretty excited!

It was COLD! Did a loop around downtown because it’s the least windy and warmest place to run. Good recovery run, but my achilles hurt on both ankles afterwards. Could be the new shoes, could be that I was on my feet most of the afternoon for the church’s sausage supper. Either way, the run felt good. Made some decisions about the spring marathon and my anticipated race pace.

It feels like I’m just going around and around and around…

When the only warm place to run in about 3 square miles, it can be a little boring to run in circles around the same neighborhood. You also start to get strange looks from the guy sitting by the window in the local bar when you go by for the third time…

I’m going to make a goal for the marathon in the spring. I’m gonna try and go sub–4:00. That’s a 9:06/mile pace. It will be hard to do for 26.2 miles, but I think that I can make it happen. I’ve got that much speed in my legs right now for 10 miles, but I have to see if I can do it for that long. I figure if I hold a 9:00–9:05 pace for the first 20 miles, then the last 10K needs to be sub–1:00:00. That I think I can do.

I’m going to spend the next two months with lots of easy pace runs with the fast Wednesdays with the group at Runwell and reasonable long runs on the weekend. The marathon plan I have starts on January 22 and goes 12 weeks. It has 3 long runs of 3 hours or more, which is where I should be able to get to 20–22 miles. I’ll need to figure out all of my paces for the workouts, but I’m excited to do this!

Countdown to Baby Girl – 15 days to go!

Running for Fun and Profit

Today’s Run

Time – 1:25:52
Distance – 8.6 miles
Pace – 9:59 min/mi
Elevation – 192 ft.

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Sometimes Strava confuses me. I ran 8.6 miles, no mile was over 9:52 pace, and I’m getting a 9:59 average. Sometimes the internet seems broken. It was cold, windy, and the roads were wet. The run didn’t hurt, and I didn’t have any issues running that long without water. It was a good run.

Running when it matters, matters

I took two days off because of schedules and other reasons, so I was able to relax and think about other things. Today was a tight day, with lots to do and not a lot of time. But I got the run in, because, well, I needed to run. It had been two days, and it was time to run again.

Running for running sake is fine. It’s perfectly acceptable to run because I enjoy it. When its time to run, though, I have to make sure to get it in. Consistency is how this works. Running often is how the work gets done, and how the body builds and gets stronger.

Keep running when you want to, go running when you should, and #GetOutTheDoor.

Group Runs Make Things Happen

Today’s Run

Time – 51:56
Distance – 6.0 miles
Pace – 8:37 min/mi
Elevation – 76 ft.

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Group run! Fun with the crew at Runwell made for another fine, fast outing. I like running up front and pushing to keep pace. I made a race for the turnaround with Sean, which slowed down my fourth mile, and I spent the rest of the run playing catchup. I had to push really, REALLY hard to stay with the leaders, and I was about 50 meters back most of the second half. It was tough, but worth the effort. New 5K Strava best (26:24)!

Group Running Has It’s Benefits

Competition is a good thing when it motivates you to be better than you thought you could be. I ran hard by myself on Monday and did a 5K in 27:32 and 6 miles in about 54 minutes. Tonight, I ran with others who pushed me to be better and I did a minute faster for 5K and two minutes faster for 6 miles. That’s huge!

There’s something to be said for the idea that I haven’t yet found the limit of what I’m capable of today. I think I was pretty close tonight. There was probably a little more in the tank, maybe another 10 seconds per mile at most, but that was about it. It was a good night for running, and I was able to make sure that I was running in front and enjoying it.

One of the runners, Richard, said to me that he liked running with the front group because they made him run faster than he did on his own. I’m seeing the same thing. Running with others matters. But it’s not an everyday thing. I can’t do this three or four times a week. I’d burn myself out unless I had a couple people that liked to run slow on slow days and fast on fast days. That’s where these larger groups come in. There’s about 20–25 people at the runs, with lots of people running at all different paces and distances. It’s easy to find someone to run with who is going your pace for that day.

I’ve been using this group as a way to push myself and, so far, I’ve been able to hang out near the lead pack. I know that as the speedier runners show up more as the weather changes, and race plans and training change, and as the holidays come and go, I will find myself struggling to keep up with the front group. Having ran hard these last few weeks, however, shows me that I can go a lot faster than I thought, and, with continued practice, I’ll be able to keep up at quicker paces in the future. I’m sure that the end of speed is nigh. I will cross over between the improvements of more exercise and the decreases that come with age eventually. When that day comes, I’ll be disappointed, but I’ll also know that I can continue to run further and further because that’s the next great frontier.

You know, there’s a 240-mile race in Moab…