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.

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.

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!

Introverted Running with a Group?

Today’s Run

Time – 58:50
Distance – 6.02 miles
Pace – 9:46 min/mi
Elevation – 95 ft.

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Group run with Runwell. Easy run again today, according to the plan. 45–60 minutes of easy pace, but I put a fast finish on the end because I felt really good. Got to run with Kip, and we talked about kids, grandkids, and buying houses. Thanks, Kip!

Meet Exciting People

Sometimes, running with a group is hard. But not today. It was good to get together with everyone and enjoy the crowd. Lots of encouragement on the trail, good conversation, and the knowledge that someone was there along the way to help if needed.

Running at night on the trails around here by yourself seems ludicrous. There are NO lights, and there’s no houses, people, or help nearby if you need it. Somebody could jump out and beat you with a bat, rob you at gunpoint, or worse. Plus, we’ve got skunks here, too, and that’s not something you want to wander up on and scare in the middle of the darkness.

I’ve never really run with a group before this year. There as a little time with the St. Louis Triathlon Club years ago, but I was the slowest person by far, and would usually get left behind in a few minutes. I enjoyed the runs because Forest Park in St. Louis was great, but there was not a lot of social interaction. This group is totally different. They are fun and accepting, and the runs are on good trails with about 5–6 different routes, so there’s not really a repeat during a month.

My introverted brain appreciates the group. This isn’t an advertisement for them as much as a recognition on my part that there are groups out there that can be a part of what I do and enjoy, and not feel overwhelming. Again, for an introverted guy, this can’t be discounted. Sure, I’m gonna run 4 out of 5 days by myself, but I like having the option to get together, especially on easy days, to run along with someone else.

Blogging for Fun and Profit?

Today’s Run

Time – 1:15:12
Distance – 8.0 miles
Pace – 9:23 min/mi
Elevation – Treadmill at 1%

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Longer run on the treadmill today. 1 mile warmup, then 5.5 miles at 9:05/mile pace. Shifted to 7:59/pace for about a half a mile, then cooldown. It was a good “fast finish” run, and the fast part at the end could have gone on for longer, but I was running out of time.

Finding a Balance

Writing a blog is about finding balance. Not the balance between living life and recording it, or the balance between sitting in front of a computer and spending time with family away from the work. The balance I’m referring to is one of content, or rather, volume of content.

It’s a difficult proposition to write for a blog everyday. I would imagine this is especially hard when you rely on the income generated to provide for yourself and your family. I am not one of those individuals. My content is my own as a collection of thoughts and ideas. I like to go back on occasion and see how I was perceiving my topic (in this case, running), and to let the past help guide my future.

I try to write on anyday that I run. I get to record the stats from the run, and my thoughts on how it went. I also have made a point to include a random collection of thoughts, as much for my sanity as anything else. Some of these posts are so that I can download my brain to somewhere, rather that requiring that The Wife listen to me ramble…

What I write isn’t always Pulitzer Prize material, though. It’s not the best content I could produce everyday, because that is a function of time. I like to give this blog a good shot of my brand of crazy, however sometimes the tank is a little dry. So, you get posts like this.

Regardless of the quality, the thoughts continue to be an extension of what runs around in my head, for better or worse. If I were intending to write for fun and profit, I’d pursue the ideas that Susie Lindau had in her post, “18 Best Blog Tips: New Ways to Promote Your Blog, Increase Traffic, and More!”. She also talks about writing less for better quality in, “How To Be Discovered on WordPress!”.

This isn’t my goal, though. More views would be great. Bigger stats and the ability to monetize would be fun. But my goal remains the same: 100 miles the last Saturday in June…someday.

Flagging Resolve

Today’s Run

Time – 35:03
Distance – 3.6 miles
Pace – 9:35 min/mi
Elevation – Treadmill at 1%

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Now THAT’S a look of determination!

Treadmill run set on easy. Just a light jog to work out the legs after the hard group run the day before. The lack of sleep the previous night probably made this harder than it should have been, but the run wasn’t too painful. Just mentally tiring.

Treadmills are for those who want the miles…

Treadmills are exercise for the body and the mind. Mental fortitude is a requirement some days, because you don’t have the luxury of needing to run home to force the rest of the run. I think this is why I get such good mileage when running outside. I’m too stubborn to turn around and run back the way I came, which means I only have to convince myself to start down the next street in order to get some additional mileage.

This is also why I don’t like out-and-back runs most times. If my desire wanes a little bit, I know that I just need to turn around. Doing a loop requires that you keep going in order to get to the end and be back where you started.

Treadmills, on the other hand, just let you step off when you don’t want to do it anymore. This is really difficult to overcome some days. Running isn’t always easy or fun, and the act of pushing through and continuing is sometimes harder than the actual running.

It’s amazing how much can go into accomplishing goals. There’s so much that doesn’t get thought about when planning. Even the simple things, like the willpower to keep going, doesn’t always get added to the checklist. Desire is a huge part of being successful and getting things done. Without it, too many times, activities get started but don’t get resolved.

This is one of my big struggles: the closeout, pushing through till completion. This is also why I like running so much. It teaches me to keep going and get the job done, even when the willpower is flagging.

Following The Day Off

Today’s Run

Time – 1:00:32
Distance – 6.3 miles
Pace – 9:36 min/mi
Elevation – Treadmill at 1%

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Easy treadmill run to start the week. Ran quick 6:58/mile pace at the end for about a minute as a single stride to get the feel for running fast. Otherwise, it was 6 miles at 9:30-ish pace.

We’re in the homestretch (no pun intended)

It’s only a couple of weeks longer until we sign for the house, and there’s still so much to do! We haven’t really started packing yet, although one could argue that we never really unpacked in the first place. We’re hoping that the current rental gets taken over by someone else so that we don’t have to double pay for a few extra months, but we need enough time to clean. There’s still movers to schedule, utilities to setup, furniture to plan for, and painting at the new house to figure out.

Through all of this, though, is the excitement of a new house. And not just any new house, but OUR new house. We’ll be married for 10 years this March, and we’ve never been on a honeymoon, never not had kids living with us, and never owned a home. The Wife and I are ready to start this next phase of our lives, and we are so happy to be able to give this gift to our children.

Despite all the craziness, the stress, and the emotion, we have the joy of knowing that our kids should have a place that they can come home to when they DO get old enough to move out. It’s Christmas at our place with them and their families, and summers back home from college, and marking growing heights on the wall in the garage. This can be a new place to store our memories. That’s the best part!