Friday, November 13, 2009

Born to Run

I stayed up late Wednesday night to finish the book "Born To Run" by Chris McDougal, I think that's how you spell it, because I wanted to return it to the library and because it was such a great read. If you are a runner, want to be a runner, think you can't be a runner, READ THIS BOOK. If you know someone who wants to run but always says I can't run because my knees/feet/ankles always get injured when I try. Get them to read this book. Really it's just that awesome.
It's been raining in the Raleigh area since Tuesday and I had a tough looking tempo run scheduled for Thursday. I was thinking I would have to do it on the treadmill since I didn't want to have to deal with the wind gusts up to 30 mph and rain and the flooding that always happens on my on "flat" route when we get this much rain. I ended up sleeping in until 6:15 Thursday morning and when I woke up I saw that the rain had subsided and was supposed to stay away until lunch. I decided I would just go out and run the neighborhood hills and try my best to make the times my coach said I should get. My workout was:
7 miles total-
Miles 1, 2 @ 10:00,
Mile 3 @ 9:30,
Mile 4 @ 9:00,
Mile 5, 6 @ Sub 9:00,
Mile 7- Cool down

Before heading out I went to the usatf website to remind myself of where the mile markers would be for the 5 mile loop I have mapped out. My plan was to do the loop, then do the 1 mile loop that is not as hilly for mile 6. I was most concerned about mile 5 as that features a very long hill. I was not terrible excited about this workout or running in the 48 degree windy overcast morning, but thought that if I didn't go now I wouldn't get the run in, so out the door I went.
Mile 1 starts off with a slight uphill and today it was into the wind. I was just not feeling it today and was not happy, but then I started thinking about the people that want to be able to run but can't and how they would give anything to be able to run and started to change my attitude. I remembered many times in the book how the author describes people running with a look of joy on their faces so I started to smile. I had no GPS, no Heart rate monitor, no IPod, just my clothes, shoes, and watch. Amazingly I started to feel good, I focused on keeping my form good and just ran comfortably. When I hit the mile 1 spot I was at 9:55. I thought that's odd, I've never done that mile this fast and waited until my watch hit 10 to hit the lap button.
Mile 2 starts off downhill before rolling during the middle and up at the end. At this point when the wind was really gusting I could feel some water pelting me in the face. It was cold, but I didn't care. My run was feeling so good I had to hold myself back to stay at 10 / min miles so I could save some for those last two sub 9 miles. I'm running uphill into the wind with some drizzle hitting me and I have this big smile on my face. I just had to laugh at how this must look to the people driving by me. I saw the mile 2 spot and saw I was at 9:30, this just made me smile even more. I decided to take a 15 second walk break and still had a 9:45.
Mile 3 is uphill first, then flat then down. At this point I'm feeling the runner's high big time and concentrating on my form and thinking about some of the lessons learned from the book and trying to run slow so I can get a 9:30 mile. I was still concerned about that 5th mile. The best I've ever done on this 5 mile loop is 48 something and when I did that I was dying. Other that that I've never broken the 50 minute mark. Mean while I'm about to finish mile 3 and the world is a better place. 9:04! I'm shocked, this mile felt so good, how could it be 9:04?
Mile 4 is supposed to be 9, but mile 3 was supposed to be 9:30 so I decided to switch them. This mile has a lot of downhill so I have to really concentrate on slowing down. This time it's easier because mile 5 is looming ahead. I am still feeling really good, I take time to evaluate the different spots that normally give me problems, feet good, ankles no pain, knees a little pain since I'm going downhill but I wouldn't notice if I wasn't paying attention, hips feel good. Now I am thinking about my foot strike. Keep the stride shorter and let the feet land under you and don't land on your heels after 100 of so yards of this my slight knee pain is gone again. The shoes I run in are not meant for my foot type, but they are the only shoes that I can run in and not hurt my knees. I remember in the book about a study they did with a group that wore shoes that cost over 95 dollars and another that were under 40 and found that the expensive shoe group had over a 2x injury rate. They claim that the cushioning in the high tech shoes cause you to run incorrectly by hiding the pain and if you run barefoot or in harder shoes your feet will tell you that you are running wrong and you will adjust. It's starting to make sense now, but enough of that for now here comes mile 5. Mile 4 - 9:33.
Mile 5 - I've run this mile many many times, it's part of the 5 mile loop and the 5k loop that start at my house. The first 3/4 miles of it are long steep up, short down, long gradual up, then the last 1/4 is gradual downhill. It's still cold, the rain is drizzling, the wind is gusting and the hill is rising ahead of me, but a quick reminder to myself of how the best runners in the book always smiled and enjoyed the hard parts got that smile back on my face and while the pain was there it still felt good, made the first hill and started to ease up to recover on the short down but then realized I didn't need to recover so I pushed down before starting back up again. I concentrated really hard and kept my pace up this next hill. When I made it to the downhill section I opened up the stride again and snuck a peak at my watch. I was at way ahead. This just made me smile even more and slow down a bit to save some for the last sub 9 mile, Mile 5 ended up 8:52, and my time for the 5 mile loop was under 46! And I still felt good.
Mile 6 - I've done this 1 mile loop many times as well since it's part of my day before race brick. It starts off gradual up, then a nice downhill/uphill combo before the gradual down to the finish. I've done this in the 8's before, but never after 5 miles, but now my confidence is so high with mile 5 done that I just decided to go for it. I noticed that while going uphill there was a part of my brain that was telling me I was feeling pain and I should go slower, instinctively I slowed, but then a quick check from my logical side found no pain, sure it was hard, but it didn't hurt, so back up to pace. When I got to the next and final hill I expected the pain signal, but when it came I just ignored it and half way up it went away, more eye opening and something to remember for later. Finished with that nice gradual downhill and an 8:14 mile.
I wanted to do the full 1 mile cool down, but I was already late for work and running slower I got cold faster so I called it a day at 6.5.
With my half marathon coming up on Dec 5, I only wish I can bottle up this run and take it with me for that day. I broke my GPS by swimming with it a while back and I think it was the best thing that could have happened. I am really enjoying running technology free, it makes you focus inwardly and really tune into your body. I can't say I won't ever get another GPS, but for now I'm good.

There is so much more in the book that I really didn't cover or even touch on, but I do want to say it was very eye opening and challenged a lot of what the shoe companies are trying to sell us. It also tells a really entertaining story about some great people. It inspired my run above and hopefully more to come.


butcept said...

sorry it took me awhile to get to read your post but what a great post!! Loved the idea of you smiling at those hills.

The shoe thing is very interesting. When you first told me about it, I had it backwards: that the more expensive shoe provided less injury. It kind of burst my bubble since I'm not willing to pay for those shoes!! But I now see the error of my hearing/interpretation.

I can't wait to read the book. I'm only 91 on the waitlist!

Morgan said...

I've heard some great things about that book, must go pick it up!!!

I am so jealous you have such a great training area, we have zero hills down here in Hades. :(

Thanks for stopping by my digs the other day!!! :)

southofthecliff said...

Hey, I ran the Mistletoe half... I was the one without shoes.

Born to Run is indeed a great book. It convinced me to change my running life completely.

Barefoot Josh