Not quite the sub eights we were looking for…

0:8:01’s.  Even a 0:7:24 third mile wasn’t enough to cover the sins of a slow first mile.  And that’s the lesson, isn’t it?  If I decide to start my watch while I’m not warmed up, I can expect to pay with a very slow first mile.

When I go to race, it’s become obvious to me, that a slow 1 mile jog is profitable.  Warm up, get the kinks out, get my mind ready to run.


A run to the Bees…

My employer, OC Tanner, took us out to the ballgame, yesterday.  They shut the company down, forced us to leave and then bought us lunch and let us watch the Salt Lake Bees play their opposing team.

The plan was for everyone to walk to the game from work.  It was roughly a mile.  It was hot, though, and I figured if I was going to sweat over a mile increment, I was going to sweat over three mile increments.  I’d rather have something to show for my sweat.

Route to the Bees gameSo I ran a respectable 7:50 pace on this run.  By the end, though, I had some pain in my right hip.  This pain has been around for a while, so I’m going to have to get to the bottom of it.

I wonder if my shoes are not right for me.  Will be looking into this next week.

Three miles and a good, non-injured run

Went three miles, today.  Kept a high-8’s pace and enjoyed every minute of being able to run without pain.  Felt slight pressure in the last mile of this run (left knee, inside), but all was well.  Iced on Frontrunner and feel fine.

On this run I ran into Guy, a woman from my church ward, and finally introduced myself to two guys that I see on the Provo River Trail, all year round.  I’ve see these guys in the dead of summer and the dead of winter.  Their names are Rod and Kelly.  It was nice to finally stop and say hi.

Three miles forward, two steps back

Notice the fast turnover of the Road Runner.
Notice the fast turnover of the Road Runner.

Last night I went for a late-night run (which I seldom do, anymore).  I ran in shorter strides, trying to keep a fast turnover, per many articles and a couple of books that I’ve been reading, lately.

I felt like I was flying.  My heart-rate was up, the scenery was rushing by…I was really impressed with myself.  Every time I felt like I was slowing my turnover, I redoubled my efforts and concentrated on moving my legs, Road Runner, style.

Except something was wrong.  When my run ended, my average pace was 0:7:56 for a total of three miles, which I’ve run many, many times at a much lower effort (frankly I’ve run three miles much faster than this, recently…I think).  So what gives?  Do I lengthen my stride a bit?  Do I just need to turn these legs over, even faster?

So why did I call this post “Two steps back”?  Because at the end of this run, some pain on the inside of my right knee was back.  And pretty intense.  I would have stopped running when I noticed the pain, except I really did.  It didn’t come on until my run was over.  So I walked around the park near my home, to cool down.  It was even uncomfortable walking!  Not cool, man.

And yes, this is the old scooter injury, I’m talking about.

A test run for my right knee

Yesterday, I knew that I needed to get out for a run.  Wendy’s heard me complaining about how bad I feel, just sitting around, for several weeks, now.  It’s been about 3 weeks since the Great Scooter Crash Heard ‘Round the World.  My right knee is really all that has held me back in the last two weeks.

So this morning I felt that it was time to take it for a test spin.  I started off at a 9 minute pace and held it, just to see if it would bring on any pain or issues.  It didn’t.  I noticed at mile 1 that there was only barely slight pressure, but no pain, on the inside of my knee.

Mile two brought  more of the same.  I picked up my pace a bit, to an 8:30 or so, then let it drop back to 9’s as I tried to chase out any symptoms.

At mile 2.5, I noticed a little more pressure and just the slightest moment of…not even pain.  A slight pinch, which I wouldn’t have thought about on any other “healthy” run.

This was a successful run, with my logging an average 0:8:56 for three miles.  I’ll take tomorrow off with more icing, then maybe try for a similar run on Wednesday, to see if anything changes.

Man, it felt great to be out on the Provo River Trail, again.

The seasonal runner

One of the most common complaints that I hear from my runner-friends, is that they are dreading the process of getting back into running, again.  They may have trained for a 5k, 10k, or some other race distance, but once that race is complete, they take some time off.  Too much time, in fact.  By the time they realize that they are missing the benefits of running, or just want to start training for another race, they quickly realize that they are starting from scratch.  Again.  I lived this pattern from about 2002-2012.  So for about ten years I was getting into shape, falling out of it, then going through the arduous process of getting back into shape, again.

Here are some common scenarios I’ve seen myself and my friends go through:

The event runner decides she want to lose weight for a cruise, the summer (swimsuit season), or a class reunion.  She works very hard to drop weight and creates healthy habits that help her to feel good about herself.  The event comes and goes and with it, the motivation to continue to stay in shape.  The consistent exercise drops off, more calories are consumed, and the event runner finds herself back where she started.

The seasonal runner decides he wants to get into shape, so he trains from spring, through part of fall.  However, when the temperatures drop, he retreats inside and runs on a treadmill.  However, after a few sessions of running on the treadmill, he loses interest.  He drops training until the next time he signs up for a race, or the temperatures become more comfortable again.

The healthy runner runs to lose weight and may find some success.  However, once they are injured, training stops.  When the training stops, weight is almost always accumulated, so hope is lost.  Once the injury is healed, oftentimes it is too late for the healthy runner, who now has lost inspiration to continue running.

The perfect scenario runner is a category I created as a catch-all for any other type of runner that I missed.  Maybe a person stops running when time becomes restricted, a schedule changes, a baby is born, or they move to a new location, thereby losing their favorite running path or trail.  Or maybe the perfect scenario runner was inspired by friends and relied on them so much for inspiration, that when their friend(s) stopped running, so did they.

I feel that there is only one real way to break through these easy-to-fall-into traps.  I’ve fallen into many of the above excuses and traps.  I’ve been injured (I’m injured, right now, in fact), I’ve moved, lost running friends, been chased indoors by sub degree temperatures, etc.  I get where you’re coming from.  It sucks, right?  The perfect scenario runner is a rare one, because life is not full of perfect scenarios.  We can’t wait for the perfect scenario to establish good running habits.

The consistent runner (and here’s what we’re shooting for) is a person who has a running frame of mind.  Firstly (and most importantly), they have identified running as a necessary component for their lives.  They have found that running benefits them and that going in and out of running is too exhausting and taxing on their bodies, and, especially their minds.

So, what?

Well, this is about how we see ourselves.  As runners, we cannot think of ourselves as people with full time jobs who run, or as students who run, or even family members who happen to run.  Running needs to be as much a part of our identity as anything else that we work for, or else its practice will come and go, (more than likely it will surely go.)

The reason that we don’t seasonally go into roles as fathers and mothers, or full time workers (I know there are exceptions, here), is because we consider these roles to be necessary and part of our identity.  And they are.  Otherwise we would not be consistent parents and productive employees (I don’t need to actually say this, right?)

We should not only run to attain the perfect body, to enjoy a certain type of weather, or simply because the comets have aligned and running just happens to work out.  If this is our frame of mind, we will likely lose sight of our goals and, more than likely *gasp!* quit running.  This is not to say that good looking legs or pleasant weather shouldn’t be pursued or enjoyed.  But these should not be the primary excuses for getting out on a run.  Otherwise, if things don’t work out, we might lose sight of our long-term goal, which for me is health.

By the way, I don’t mean to say that running is the only way to get or remain healthy.  Whatever physical activity(s) you have chosen to keep you healthy needs to become more than just a past time, or something to get you into shape for some function or event.

As soon as you learn to identify yourself as a runner (swimmer, biker, athlete- whatever), excuses fall to the side.  An injury is nothing more than a slowing point in your training.  A cruise is an fun event in your life, that is benefited by your identity as a runner- not an even that creates a mandatory running spree to lose weight.

A season is just one more thing you run through.  Your clothes will probably reflect this.  You have clothes for all different kinds of situations, because you are a year-round runner.  You don’t stress about whether you will quit running, just like you don’t question whether or not you will have the willpower to breathe or go to work.  It’s just what you do.

When you can learn to accept this, you will no longer struggle with on and off-again running seasons.  You will cross train through an injury.  You will run in horrible weather (within reason, right?)

And all of this is for a purpose.  Running does two things for those of us who enjoy life.  It lengthens it.  It enhances it.

Still, some further considerations:

Time off:  From time to time, it’s healthy to take a bit of time off.  Maybe you’ve just completed a marathon and are burned out, physically and mentally.  Or maybe you’re just burned out.  Take some time off.  Better yet, find something else to do that will help to keep you in shape, while you take a vacation from running.  Just don’t mistake laziness for taking time off.

Aging:  As we get older, we need to be a bit more forgiving on ourselves, if our goals aren’t reached, we aren’t as fast as we used to be, or we just don’t have the duration in our bodies that we once had.  My 73 year-old father still trains for marathons, but he now runs 3 days a week, instead of 5-6.  He has learned to listen to his body.  This is as much a skill as anything.

Disclaimer:  This post is a living document.  I will be altering it until I feel I’ve got it right.  However, I think that the bulk of it is ready enough to be helpful to those of us (myself included), who find ourselves falling off the running wagon from time to time.

Testing the knee out, at Liberty Park (this is a sad tale)

This is where I hurt, just in case I can’t remember and need to show the doctor.

Yesterday I woke up, after my wife and I had been kept up all night, by Jackson’s continuing talking, crying, fidgeting, etc.  I was too tired to go for a run, so I gathered my running clothes up, put them in a bag and headed over to the Frontrunner train.

When I got to work, I wasn’t sure how I felt about going for a run.  After all, I’ve been dealing with some right knee pain after a crash on my push scooter, about 10 days ago.

I headed out the east doors of OC Tanner and caught a pace of about 0:8:30.  Each time I’ve started a run after this accident, it’s been painful, but eventually the pain lets up and I can run a bit.

I ran to Liberty Park and around the loop, approximately 1.5 miles.  By the time I got the end of the loop, I was in really bad shape.  I’d hit 3.5 miles in 31:44 (not bad, considering), but had to stop since I felt that I was getting closer and closer to making things worse.

So I’m left with a few options:

1.  I can continue to run and trash my knee.  I’m not doing this.

2.  I can take a significant amount of time off and cross train with something that doesn’t hurt my knee (swimming?)

3.  I can take a shorter amount of time off, cross train, and try to eek back into running.  This seems a bit chancy, since I really don’t know the status of my knee.

I’m not sure why I made the above list.  Stream of consciousness, I guess.  How about if I just tell you that I’ve decided to go to the Runner’s Lab that I signed up for, except instead of doing the lab, I’ll just be seen by a competent doctor, with plenty of experience with athletes.

So that’s what I’m doing.  I currently have my leg up, wrapped in an ice pack, yearning for the day that I can finally go for a fast, comfortable run, again