Running never gets easy

 

Today’s run (street): 5.4

It was just about six years ago when I decided to get serious about my diet and fitness. I wasn’t planning to start running. That happened after a few weeks of morning treadmill walks leading to longer walks around the neighborhood. At one point during a walk, I decided to run to the end of the street. I remember how difficult it was to just do that. I figured that running would get easier, and then finally become easy.

Six years later, despite building fitness and developing an aerobic base, I still think that running is hard. Unless I’m doing long slow distance, I usually experience some level of discomfort during a run. Over time, I’ve learned to manage – even embrace – a certain degree of suffering. If I had known that this would be the case six years ago, would I have continued to try?

With yesterday’s hot, hard and humid five miles on the treadmill, I was prepared to struggle today. The first mile reinforced that. As I ran, I felt frustrated with the level of effort that I was expending so early in the run. It was humid and cloudy, but fortunately not that hot. I headed to “neighborhood #2” for a change of scenery and to eat up some distance along one of my favorite straightaways.

After a while, my effort started to feel easier. I took the opportunity to increase my pace and ended up running negative splits. I thought it was interesting that, during the run, I’d reconciled myself to a laborious effort only to experience a rare easy training run. I’m also happy to report that I nudged closer to my targeted 18 miles week. That 4:00 AM run on Wednesday did the trick.

The hard running continues, although that wasn’t the plan

Today’s run (treadmill): 3 miles

Yesterday’s run was fun, but it was also tough. I felt worn out afterwards and wondered how I’d feel this morning. There was no question that I’d do a workout but I didn’t think two tough runs in a row would be a good idea. I needed to get into the city, so time was short. Although the weather was spring-perfect, I opted to run on the treadmill to save time.

I ran fairly slow yesterday, so I set the pace a little faster today. I had little trouble maintaining my speed, but I felt like this might end up being a tedious run. I was surprised when I saw that I’d passed the ten minute mark and, before I knew it, I had done ten more. I was in danger of missing my targeted my finish time, so I increased my speed by 2/10ths of a mile every minute until I finished.

That ended up being a very hard run and I was concerned that I’d pushed myself too much. I needed to be alert for the business conversations that lay ahead. I ended up rebounding well and had a great lunch with some industry friends, one of whom will be running the Marcie Mazzola 5K with me, along with the Dirty Sock and Cow Harbor 10K’s. After ten challenging miles over two days, I think I may go for an easier workout on Thursday.

Take it easy (at least 70% of the time)

Today’s run (treadmill): 2.5 miles

I read in a recent Runner’s World that 70% of your running should be done at an easy pace. This was defined as running at a speed that allows you to comfortably maintain a conversation. The concept behind this “Easy/Hard” ratio is that slower running helps build capillary beds within muscles. Hard running tears up  muscles and easy running repairs and strengthens them.

With the almost constant rain we’ve had since Sunday night, I planned for an indoor morning run. I really don’t like the treadmill but I planned to focus on easy running and save the harder stuff for the end of the week or the weekend. Since I was indoors I skipped wearing a running shirt and that helped keep me cool. I started very slow (5.1 MPH) and worked my way up by tenth of a mile increments until I reached a 9:00 pace. 

In all, I covered my usual morning distance although it did take me a couple of extra minutes to do it. Hopefully the weather will clear and I can get back outside in the morning. Will I run it easy or hard? With my lower back still slightly tender, I’m thinking that I’ll defer to the 70% side.