running – how it goes

when it comes to running, i’ve got nothing and everything to say.  i’m hesitant to talk about the issue because i know that runners speak a language most people don’t understand.  runners also get so consumed in the sport that we are generally unable to shut up once we’re asked about this entire left-foot, right-foot perpetual motion machine business.  but i’ll play nice here and try to say a few words without writing a novel.

i started running in earnest around 2001, I think.  I took a nasty fall while rollerblading (it required a visit to an ER), so I decided it would be safer to rely on my own two feet to get around and to stay in shape.   since then, I’ve run recreationally and i’ve run passionately and i’ve run “addictively” (if that’s a word).  I’ve run for fun, for exercise, and for catharsis.

i’ve never run competitively, although I have trained for and ran in races and continue to do so.  I don’t race against other people, and i generally don’t even race against myself.  in fact, i don’t like the word “race.”  i don’t run to beat a previous mark so much as i run to see what i can do.  it’s an odd way to think about it, but i run because this is my body and i want to test it.  i want to see what it can do and not necessarily how well it ran today compared to a week ago.

although i keep track of speed and distance with a simple nike+ running chip and sometimes use web service such as runnerplus and runner’s lounge, i try to avoid thinking about things like how fast i can go for how long.  although i test my body to see what it can do, i know full well that my muscles don’t really understand distances or rates of speed the way my mind does.  Whether I run 15km or 18km tomorrow isn’t *that* much of a difference to my legs (which are admittedly well-trained for the distance).  In terms of time, the difference between 15km and 18km is an extra 17 minutes or so, which will wear on my mind as i’m finishing the last 3k of that run.  but to my muscles, what matters will be “long run” vs “short run” vs “hills” vs “tempo” vs “intervals” etc etc.

this is why i judge my runs, ultimately, by the way i feel.  i don’t care if i ran only 5:43min/km on wednesday instead of my typical 5:25-5:30min/km.  What matters to me is that yesterday’s run was a sluggish run.  It was late in the day, and it was hot and muggy, and the run didn’t feel great at all.  i didn’t feel good on that run, and i know i want to feel better on the next.

zen running : be the shoe

zen running : be the shoe

thinking about running this way keeps it simple on the mind, even when i’m training for long distances.  of course i want to shave some time off my 10k and my Half rates – who doesn’t?  But shaving that time off is secondary to just feeling good.  I’m getting older with every step i put in front of me, and i know that there will be a day when i won’t be able to run faster than the day i did before.  but i want to make sure that when that day comes I won’t care one way or another about the issue.  So I keep things simple by working toward just feeling good.  If I can finish with a smile on my face, then i know i’ve done everything right that day.

[n.b. sooner or later i’ll write a post complaining about times and distances.  forgive me when i do. it’s just easier to write about stats than it is to constantly be contemplative.]

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About Michael Steeleworthy

I am the data librarian at the Wilfrid Laurier University Library. The answer is yes.
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2 Responses to running – how it goes

  1. Christine says:

    Hey Mike,
    Have you noticed that you feel better if you run at certain times of the day? I find I’m much better off if I run in the morning. Afternoon/evening runs just don’t seem to do it for me.

  2. I run better in the morning. I have more energy, or at the very least, I don’t feel tired because it’s the end of the day.

    Also, I don’t feel heavy in the a.m. I can wake up, eat a piece of toast and be out the door. if i run later in the day, i have to deal with coffee and lunches and juices and whatnot slurring around in my belly and slowing me down on the road. 😉 and there are less things getting in the way, too. in the morning i’m often too tired to worry about x, y, z, so it’s easier to hit the road.

    having said that, i know a few people who only run in the afternoon/evening. one friend does it right after work in order to get the workday out of the system, as if to reclaim the day as his own. i like where he’s going with that, but i prefer to run in the morning, i.e. stake my claim from the get-go.

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