Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pace Shmace

Yesterday, a little over halfway through a 5K run on a particularly beautiful cross country course, on a
spectacularly humid morning, I found myself doing the math.

How far do I have to go? How long have I been going? How quickly can I get back?

Pace can ruin a run like the drunken asshole no one invited can ruin a good party.

Unless you are being paid to run fast, or you're an age group stud who can't get enough $2 trophies and $25 gift certificates to running stores, pace really isn't important.

Sure, it's good to measure your progress, a way to measure fitness, but that is at the macro level: Did I run this course faster than I did a month ago?

And to be faster and more fit, sometimes you need to achieve a target pace for a time.

But that's training, not running.

Running should be about the experience, the peace, the calm, the rhythm of breath and footfalls. You should be listening to your body, not the ticking off of the seconds.

The micro-management of pace turns every run into a workout, and that sucks the soul right out of the run.

I'd like to say "Don't wear a watch, just go out and run.", but I'm a data junky and most runners I know share my addiction.

Personally, I'm going to absolve myself of any pace goals for runs, saving those for workouts. I'll still record time and distance, and I'm sure I'll do the math to see what my pace was, but I'm going to save that for after the run... no more pace checks during the run.

Why ruin a good time?

Good running,

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Relearning Old Lessons

Sometimes at night when I'm having problems falling asleep, I close my eyes and imagine myself running.

It's usually down a single-track trail, deep in a shady forest with ferns filling the narrow gap between trail and trees. It's the kind of trail that pulls you along, fills you with the desire to keep going and rewards you with beauty and calm.

My stride is long, graceful, easy, and I can run all day.

There was a time when I ran like that in places like that.

My present reality, though is not quite that... idyllic.

My training is on neighborhood streets - hard, nondescript, way too familiar.

My runs are short and slow.

My stride is awkward, graceless.

I can change my location, but that won't make my runs any more productive... not until I fix my stride and get stronger.

Thing is, I've had to reboot my running form to break the chronic injury cycle. That means I am using muscles that have been left unused for a decade. And they are not happy about their reenlistment. They fatigue quickly, and are revengefully sore after.

As a result, I have been running embarrassingly slow, trying to nurse those muscles through a run. Worse, to run that slow, my form was further hosed, as my stride length shortened dramatically, so I wasn't really training those muscles at all.

After one of these frustrating runs, as I lay on the floor sweating and stretching, bitching and moaning, I had a moment of clarity.

Despite my many years of running, the thousands of miles and dozens of races, today I am essentially a new runner.

As I relearn how to run, I'm facing all of the challenges of someone who is just starting for the first time. So, I decided to take some of my own advice, the advice I give to new runners.

Rather than shuffling along to complete a run that isn't actually accomplishing what it was intended to, I'm going back to basics: Run until those weakling muscles fade, walk until they recover, rinse, repeat.

I can't tell you how much more enjoyable my runs have been since I took this new/old approach. Giving myself permission to walk when my body really needs to has allowed me to run with a normal stride and to actually work those muscles into shape.

I have no doubt that soon those walking breaks will disappear completely.

Until then, I'll try to be patient, and dream of my return to those trail runs that I never want to end.

Good running,

Monday, July 15, 2013


What? No, not the city.

The mythological bird, rising from the ashes of its predecessor, reborn...
Yes, like in Harry Potter.


Point is... I'm back.

I won't bore you with the details, just that I'm recommitting to running and writing.

Interesting observation over the last year or so: Seems I can't do either, run or write, worth a damn without doing both.

[Pretty sure there's a joke in there somewhere about writer's cramp and muscle cramps, but I'm way too rusty to make it work.]

Anyway, there it is... on the road, at the keyboard, trying to find that best version of myself.

There you have it... So, um... What's up? Did I miss anything?

Good running,