Category Archives: Pretending to be a Runner

Why I Run…

This may come as a bit of a surprise, considering how often I write about running and races here, but I do not love running. In fact, most of the time, I don’t even like it. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I laced up my sneakers and went for a run just because I felt like it.  Most often, it’s because I have a run scheduled on my training plan. Even when I’m not signed up for a race, it’s usually just because I feel like I should go for a run because I need to get some exercise, not because I actually want to or enjoy it.

To date, I have run nearly fifty races (there are four I still need to add to that list, including a 5K PR!).  So why do I sign up for so many races if I don’t love running? Because even if I don’t particularly enjoy the physical act of running most days, I do love the excitement of race day. I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I run a strong race. I love seeing actual improvement in my fitness and my ability and my race times. I love that I’ve run three half marathons, when I dreaded long run days on track and never wanted to do anything other than sprints. I love setting goals, working towards them, reaching them, and setting new ones and starting the cycle again.

So no, I haven’t yet developed a love for running itself. I haven’t reached that point where I feel like I just need to go for a run, just for the sake of running. I still need to sign up for long races, like a  half marathon this October, to motivate myself to get out there a few times a week. But every once in a while, I have one of those really great runs that make me think maybe, just maybe, the day where I can say I actually love to run… just run… isn’t that far off.

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RNR National Half Marathon Recap

Oh, I suppose I might as well recap the Rock ‘n’ Roll National Half Marathon, right? I mean, although I did totally forget to keep updating my training (LIES! I didn’t forget… there just wasn’t much to say), I don’t want to just leave the whole half marathon hanging out there, unresolved. So, here I go…

I set three levels of goals for the race:

Base Goal: finish strong

Realistic Goal: set a PR (currently 2:20:33)

Optimistic Goal: 2:15:00 (10:18/mile pace)

Well, let’s just say that I kinda, sorta met my base goal. I finished strong in the sense that I didn’t want to keel over and die when I finished the race. I wasn’t terribly sore the next day. I didn’t end up hobbling across the finish (like my first half marathon) or with a runner’s knee (like I did after my second half marathon). But the real reason that I felt fine (relatively speaking – I was sore and tired) was that it was my slowest half marathon ever. Even slower than the first one, where I could barely even walk during the last couple of miles.

I definitely slacked off in my training for the half marathon, which is actually one of the main reasons I stopped updating about my training on here. I got all my long runs in somehow, but I was probably running an average of one short run during the week. Some weeks, I didn’t run at all other than the long run. Plus, I did zero strength training and zero cross-training.

I did finish the first 7 miles without walking. I think I took my first walk break somewhere in the middle of mile 8, but it was pretty short – maybe 30 seconds, tops. Once I got to mile 9, I started alternating walking and running… with more walking and less running as the miles went on, although I did run the last 3/4 of a mile or so to get to the finish.

I’m actually glad that I didn’t finish with a fast time. If I’d been able to pull off a half marathon with so little training, there’d be no motivation for me to train harder next time. My legs are bit sore from all the hills and the distance so I’m taking things easy this week – I did a 2 mile run on Tuesday, might do another one tonight, and then will probably do 4-5 miles on the weekend. I’m signed up for the GW Parkway Classic 10M in April, so I really want to focus on doing well in that race. Now that I have the distance, I need to get up the endurance and the speed. Basically, I’m treating the half marathon as if it was just a long training fun for the GW.

As for the race itself, it was a gorgeous day – at least 50 degrees at the start and probably about 65 by the time I finished. I kind of expected there to be more bands on the course (or at least, speakers spaced out a bit around each band so you heard them for more than 20 seconds), but the race support was fantastic. The expo was easy to navigate (I did get there towards the very end so my size shirt was all gone, but I just got the next size up), course support was fantastic (they even re-filled my water bottle!), and the finishers area was well organized. My stomach was sort of bothering me at the finish (I think I’d lost too much salt, since I wasn’t used to running in that heat yet), so I didn’t take too much advantage of the finishers area, but I saw tons of food – bagels, yogurt, bananas, water, Gatorade, chocolate milk… probably lots of other things I’m forgetting (I just grabbed a banana and the chocolate milk). They also had family meet-up areas that made it easy to find Adam and my friends after the race. I definitely plan to run this race again, especially if it continues to be run by Rock ‘n’ Roll since they did such a better job organizing it than SunTrust did last year.

Distance: 13.1 miles
Time: 2:36:01
Pace: 11:55/mile

* * * * *

Oh, and as for my new running shoes? I’m definitely a convert to the minimalist running shoe. Based on what I’ve researched on the subject, I understand that it’s not really the shoe that makes the difference in preventing injuries, but your form. However, because the minimalist shoes don’t have as much cushioning and support, it forces those of us who run with poor form (like me) to adjust to better form. Since I made the switch, I’ve had no running injuries – that’s saying quite a lot for me, since I’m very injury-prone. I would have thought that without getting in an adequate number of miles during the week, I’d surely get hurt on my long runs but I didn’t. The only noticeable difference is that my left Achilles gets pretty tight and my calf gets sore. I think once I strengthen my legs a bit more, that won’t be as much of a problem. So my verdict is that if you are prone to running injuries and think it may be because you have poor form (which I’m betting it is), it might be worth a shot to give the minimalist shoes a try. (But note that it takes a long time to get your calves used to running on your toes, so ease into it.) Of course, you could try to fix your form without buying the minimalist shoes, but just realize that the extra cushioning and support of standard running shoes can make it easier for you to slip back into bad running habits when you’re tired. But if you’re not injury prone? I’m not all that sure that the minimalist shoe has added benefits for you. That said, Adam never gets injured and after he made the switch last year, he definitely got faster. It may be just a coincidence, or maybe not – there’s no way to tell.

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Good Day…

I may not have my speed back yet, but I am so, so glad I’ve finally gotten back to the point where I don’t dread running. I just need to find a way to make this last even after the half marathon is over.

It was a gorgeous day for a run/tourist-dodging on the Mall.  Now I’m going to shower, eat some delicious breakfast (lunch? it’s 1pm!), and go meet my friends to see a college basketball game.

Today is a good day.

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RNR Half Marathon Training: Weeks 3 and 4

I had a little hitch in my training this week as I tweaked my calf and took a couple of days off, but overall I finally feel like I’m getting back into the swing of things. I’m not dreading every run these days, and in fact I actually felt bad when I was missing my scheduled runs.

* * * * *

Week 3: 1/9-1/15

Monday

Rest. (Was supposed to be a strength training day, but I have totally been failing at this.)

Tuesday

3 mile run (32:50)

Wednesday

4 mile run (45:27)

Thursday

I was supposed to run 3 miles this day (and do some strength training, but you know how that’s going), but ended up working kind of late so decided to postpone it until Friday.

Friday

Aaaaand, then I didn’t make up my run.

Saturday

6 mile run (71:00)

I originally set out to do this run on the treadmill because it was pretty cold outside.  However, when we got down to the gym, there was only one available so I let Adam take it so he could watch the UConn game while running. The guys on the other two treadmills had just started, so I decided to go upstairs, change into cold weather gear, and head outside for a run. I told myself I just had to run one mile out, then could turn back around if I wanted to and do my 6 mile run the next day. Once I got to the 1 mile mark, I told myself I could get to 1.5, then turn around.  Then that I could get to the 2 mile mark and turn around.  I was still feeling good, so I just went to the 3 mile mark (which is the Washington Monument, BTW), then turned around. I ran the WHOLE thing.  It was a little slower than I would have liked but it’s the farthest I’ve run in the new shoes and my legs felt pretty good.

Sunday

Rest.

Week 4: 1/16-1/22

Monday

Rest. (I’m starting to give up on the idea of doing any strength training this time around.)

Tuesday:

3 mile run (36:04)

Although my legs felt pretty good after Sunday’s run, I think I must have overworked my muscles a bit, because I tweaked my left calf at work.  See, we were moving offices this week, and apparently packing and moving lots of boxes while wearing heels was NOT a good idea. As soon as I started my run, I felt a sharp pain in my left calf. It wasn’t just the soreness and tightness I had been getting a few weeks earlier… it was definitely pain. I ended up walking a lot of this run.

Wednesday

Rest. (Still resting my calf, which continued to hurt all day.)

Thursday

Ditto.

Adam suggested I wear his compression sleeve on his leg and see if that helped speed up the healing process. I was a little skeptical of this, but I figured it couldn’t hurt, so I wore it overnight.

Friday

Rest.

My leg actually felt better in the morning, so I decided to wear the compression sleeve all day and again overnight to see if I might actually be able to get my long run in on Saturday.

Saturday

7 miles (86:57)

I alternated between walking a quarter mile, then running a quarter mile, although I ran my quarter miles at a pretty good clip.  But my leg felt just fine!  I am amazed at how well the compression sleeve helped speed up my recovery. I guess I’ll have to buy a pair of my own.

Sunday

Spinning. I didn’t love the instructor, but it was a decent workout.  I picked up the new schedule and saw that my favorite spinning instructor is back and teaches Tuesdays at 6am and Thursdays at 7pm.  I might see if I can fit some of those classes into my schedule.

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