Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Day I Became a Runner

Two weeks deep into my marathon training, and I already have a nerdy excel sheet tracking my progress. Go ahead, laugh at me... I embrace my nerdiness. Nay, I flaunt it.

Say what you want, but it's interesting to track my trends. I have been jotting little notes on a given day regarding how I'm feeling or things that may have affected my pace. On my shorter weekday runs, I have not been doing the "walk/run" pattern - I'm just running the allotted time at a comfortable pace. On the weekends, I am supposed to be running as though it's race day.

So last weekend, I gave this whole "walk run" thing a try. I had tried it at the gym, but it's easy there - timer in front of you, and a push of a button switches your speed. Running outside is different in a MILLION ways, and the walk/run plan is no different. So I headed out for my first run, ran my comfy pace, walked briskly when my timer went off, ran again, etc. And when I was done, I put it in my spreadsheet. I was at a pace of a 12 minute mile.

12 minute mile?! I only ran 5 miles! My time per mile will surely lengthen as I move farther along the race... I can't run a 12 minute mile!

So I pondered this during the week. I came up with two major points. First and foremost, I need to use the walk/run to my benefit. I can push myself and run a little harder, because I'm building in rest time. Secondly, I need to use my weekend long runs to start pushing myself and training hard, as I want to see improvement over the course of my training. I think progress will be inherent in regards to my endurance as training moves along, but advancing my pace will take a little work.

So I thought about this on my short weekday runs. They say your weekday runs should be at a comfortable pace - recovery runs - so I kept that up this week. And today, I headed out for long run #2 - supposed to be 6 miles, but all told my loop came out to 6.6 miles.

I've never claimed to be a great runner. In fact, I'll flat out state that I am NOT a great runner. But I'm not bad. I try not to let it get to me when people pass me running along the Lakeshore path, because hell, I'm out there running... gimme some credit here!

I'm not really sure how to explain just what happened today, but I broke through a wall. I went outside with the mindset that today is a long run and a training day, so I needed to push myself. So, I did, and I kept a pace that was a little uncomfortable in the sense that it's faster than what I'm used to, but it wasn't insane. At first I thought I could never maintain it... but as the run progressed, I think I even began to run slightly faster. It was like today I decided I wasn't going to go for a jog, I was going to go for a run.

Then a funny thing happened: I started passing other people.

When the buzzer went off, I walked briskly as I'm supposed to, and once my minute break was up, I was back at it, and I felt amazing. All told, I ran 6.6 miles in 66 minutes. That's a ten minute mile.

But is it? I'll spare you the long, drawn out math, but we have to consider the fact that I'm walking a certain distance of my run. So if I assume that I walk at a pace of about 4mph, figure out how many walk cycles I did, I can basically subtract that from my run to see what my actual running pace was. So, being a nerd, of COURSE I did that. I was keeping a 9:36 pace. That's a personal record!

Now I'm faced with this new realization... I have it in me to be a runner.

So now, each weekend as I head out to do my long run, I will always be thinking that I can keep that pace, and on any given day, I better match it or improve it. That's how you get better.

I'm on a mission, people. Nothing stops me when I'm on a mission.

125 days, 9:36:40 until go time!

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