"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

When it stops being fun...

A few weeks ago, I talked to my dad on the phone and mentioned that I was really enjoying running. He responded in a way that seems obvious but might not be to someone who gets in so deep as a long distance runner.

"Well that's good, if you don't enjoy it, there's no reason to keep doing it."


Sometimes it's hard to qualify "fun." I have fun when my legs are burning, but not when my intestines are in disarray. I will enjoy my races more when I have put myself in good shape through hard work, so it's all relative. Sometimes running for the sake of running is counterproductive. I have never really felt burned out, maybe frustrated, but I've never disliked running for more than a day or so. I have disliked situations (Hampden-Sydney's non-coach, my 2002 stress fracture that was my own doing right when I started running with the Richmond team) but I think I can attribute my relative longevity to prudence and perspective.

I employed both at the end of last week. I wanted to do a five-mile moderate run at some point,
and Friday morning seemed like the time to avoid the strong winds forecast for the afternoon. I woke up to rain, though the actual amount of rain is often obscured by a noisy downspout, and immediately went back to sleep. We had a large staff lunch at work, so I didn't run in the middle of the day, figuring I could run hard Saturday and just get in an easy 10 after work.
When I headed out for that 10, I noticed the stiff breeze people had been talking about. It was serious. I headed down to the mall, and when I got to the Capitol reflecting pool the full force of the wind hit me. I felt like someone was punching me in the face and slapping me around. After a little more than a mile, I realized I'd had it and this was certainly not an easy run anymore. Forcing myself to run through that was a quick way to make me not enjoy running, so I turned around, went back to my office and gave the treadmill a shot. After three miles at 6:58 pace and no fan to cool me off, I applied the same reasoning as before and just stopped, in hopes of wanting to run again someday. I couldn't

Saturday morning I slept through the store run again and took an easy four miles around Idylwood. In the afternoon I wanted to do a five-mile moderate run, and i found a nice loop that was park of Fineview Park. Less than a mile in, though, a gate blocked the entrance to the Raytheon parking lot, which was all torn up. I hurdled a metal barrier and ran around the fence, around some debris in the parking lot, then around another fence. Suffice to say, I wasn't feeling too swift after that. I kept it up until about the three mile mark, which I passed in 16:38. Ok, but the jumping and whatnot made my legs pretty dead, and my intestines were troubling me again. I slowed down and ran for a while longer, but with about a mile to go I decided to walk in. I wasn't going to do myself any good by angering my guts further.

Sunday I headed out for a long run that would combine two main elements -- the hills of Military Road and the W&OD trail near Bluemont Park. My congestion didn't seem to be a problem when I was running, I'd just blow my nose every few minutes, but I guess that and the temperature (in the low 60s) got to me through increased sweating, because by the time I made it to the trail at mile 12, I was parched. Luckily, I brought money with me so I stopped at a Shell station and bought a Gatorade, but suddenly adding 20 ounces of fluid to your stomach isn't going to make six miles any easier. I finished at the 7-11 at the base of Grove, bought some chocolate milk (I had been carrying money with me for just this occasion) and walked home.

Monday I did an easy 11 miles on the W&OD trail in the rain, as it seems every out-and-back I do there is thus accompanied by precipitation. I struggled to keep myself under control, most of my spot checks on my half mile pace were around 3:15.

1 comment:

  1. Dexter is just bigger, older, and fluffier than Penny!