I talk with a lot of fellow gym rats at work and, with the exception of a few runners, running is generally viewed as some form of punishment. Runners can even get a t-shirt or bumper sticker to reinforce this notion.
To me, running “easy” is like a walk in the park. Even running long slow distances is rewarding, in the same way that getting so wrapped up in an exciting work project that you forget to eat lunch is rewarding. There is something about the slow, steady effort and the moderate intensity persistence that’s required that is its own reward.
On the other hand, I have entire categories on this blog called “i hate cycling” and “not fond of elliptical”. (The truth is, the intensity of my feelings about elliptical are an extreme understatement.) To be fair to the objects of my distaste, those feelings are born from attempts to get aerobic exercise while injured and are as much an expression of frustration as anything.
Okay, it’s not just frustration.
I’ve hit speed bumps in the 2 years since, but I’m still more faithful to running on a bad day than any other form of exercise on a good day. During injury, I usually can keep focus on strength training or cycling, just to have something to do. All other times, I get complacent, lazy, don’t have time, etc…
I also cannot quantify the benefits of any of these other exercises. With running, I have races, and I even have a pretty good handle on food/weight/mileage balance.
Since wrapping up physical therapy, I’ve dropped back from 3 days/week of strength training to averaging about 1 day.
I’ve decided to slightly up the intensity and shorten the duration in the hopes of getting more strength training per week as a result. My intent is to get enough intensity to make the workout feel worthwhile, but not take so much time to make it hard to schedule into my day. As a result, I’m looking at fixing reps at 30 / 1 set per exercise, and have added 5 lb. ankle weights or dumbbells where I could. Before, I would add an extra rep per session, and occasionally reset back to an easier level. I’m really hoping consistency will help raise my “mental stake” in keeping the strength exercises going.
8:00 PM : 00:08:47
- 30 pushups on dumbbells
- 30 L side leg raises
- 30 R side leg raises
- 30 L inside leg raises
- 30 R inside leg raises
- 30 Leg Raises, each leg
- 30 Hip/Knee Flex alt leg
- 30 Alt Leg Supine on Ball
- 30 Hip Bird Dog on ball
- 30 20 lb curls, each arm
- 10 wall squats +5 lb dumbbells
I ran 12 miles (just below 10-minute pace), mostly in the dark, on a clear morning in Fern Creek this morning. When away from main roads, I could clearly see more stars in the sky than I ever did growing up in my old neighborhood. The sun came up by mile 10.
The wind was brisk for the first four miles, the pace sluggish from Saturday’s long run, my throat dehydrated from the remains of a sinus infection turned hacking cough. All things considered, a good run:
Continuing with the direction begun on Saturday’s 22-miler, I decided that running outside was going to be my best option for getting my miles in today, and for staying healthy the rest of the week:
- No treadmill means no artificially forced pace, too fast or slow.
- No treadmill means the inclines are realistic.
- No treadmill means I don’t have to rush through my workout because I’m watching the clock or trying to finish before the toddler wakes up.
I’ve been mostly “treadmill-bound” for the last several weeks. Part of it is due to schedule conflicts–it’s hard to run outside when your only options are in the middle of the night and before the sun is up in the morning, especially when you have kids to watch. However, part of my treadmill is due to making excuses on why I couldn’t run outside. Here they are:
- It’s hot (took care of that one this summer)
- It’s rainy out (I added this one after overcoming my aversion to hot weather)
- My wife worked last night, so I can’t go run all over the place at 5:30 am [on a Saturday]
- Midday runs in my neighborhood are congested and cross busy streets.
- I can watch football most of the day if I run my long run on the treadmill.
I let my wife sleep in today, so I was going to run the treadmill downstairs for 3 1/2 hours for 22 miles. I decided that, for some reason, that wouldn’t be very productive or enjoyable.
Second option, I decided to work out a 7-1/3 mile loop to run 3 times. I figured that I’d just attempt to bail out of the run after the first loop.
Instead, 2 miles into the loop run, I decided to go catch up with my wife at Seneca Park for a Filipino gathering (starting in Fern Creek)… here’s the map for the first half:
Second half: I hung out a little while there before attempting to continue on to the Cherokee Park Scenic Loop [almost found it, too]–my wife was headed to Bellarmine for the Irish festival, so I planned to finish up there. Getting lost in the hills between Cherokee and Seneca was rough, as was the muscle pain from stopping my run for an extended period of time, but I managed to fight through it:
This run was actually slower than my last 20+ miler, but the average incline was about 1% greater, and the stop in the middle really killed my momentum.
I completely empathize with the experience of going out way too fast in the marathon, despite the fact that in my first marathon, I did it to myself. [She was trying to stick with a pace group.]
55 pounds in 7 months and running a marathon in 4:10.
Of course, she’s not done. She’s going to qualify for Boston–3:40:59.
As she says at the end of her story:
I truly think that anyone can do whatever it is they want as long as they have a goal, motivation, and most of all, support. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
No, I don’t mean that, do I? Ok, then, as long as you just read it for the pictures, it’s okay to keep it.
Actually, I have nothing against the popular running hobbyist magazines. However, you must realize what a magazine is. Magazines have several new messages every issue. Otherwise, why would you need the next issue?
While some may even take issue with some of the advice presented in the articles, I think there’s a greater danger: lack of consistency. Just like you can’t chase every mutual fund that a money magazine recommends, or go with the diet that you’ve obeyed the best that day, you can’t change training plans on a weekly or monthly basis.
Yet, that is just what will happen if you take the articles to heart: you’ll switch plans. You’ll switch because the first thing that will happen is the doubt that you can pull this off, that this plan is right for you. It happens on term papers, on novels, on investments, and certainly on a 16 week training plan. To compound the psychological effects, your body will be giving you feedback through all of the tough workouts, through all the pushing yourself a little further. Your body has to restructure itself to grow, and while that process should not cause excruciating pain, it will probably cause some discomfort.
Whether you’re going from couch to 5k, training for your first half-marathon, or taking the plunge for your first marathon, stretching your limits is not comfortable. Stepping out of your comfort zone is how you grow. Revisiting that feeling, again and again, is how you excel.
If you’re doing you first training for a specific distance, any plan that increases weekly mileage an average of 5% per week and mixes in different speed runs will work. Go fast once per week, go long once per week, and enjoy all of your runs.
Added from an @runtowin comment: