Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Homework Runs

I know that the secret to success in long distance events is doing all the runs in the training cycle. I'm not a runner who is motivated by the clock so my homework isn't so much about tempo runs or hill repeats but more about logging regular weekly miles to build up my base so I can run a lot of races at a comfortable pace. I'm also a little bit unusual in that I tend to really look forward to my super long runs and think of them more as mini adventures. Short runs on the other hand are nothing but homework for me. Something I have to do but seldom want to face even when I know they are good for me and almost always turn out to be rewarding.

I have a pretty good routine with my running partners to meet twice a week after work to get in 4-5 miles and without them I'd find excuses to skip the run more often than not. Last night is a great example: as I mentioned, we're in the middle of a heatwave and temperatures were in the 90s most of the day yesterday. I live in the mid-Atlantic and most days are really humid as well as hot. This was not adding up for great running conditions - especially since our typical Tuesday takes us to Valley Forge National Park and it's five mile, hilly, mostly unshaded loop trail. Blah. The excuse maker in my head looks at those conditions and says "No sane person would run in this. Go home. Use the treadmill or run tomorrow." The committed running partner in me says "They will be waiting for me. They are not wimping out. Just go." And so I went.

Luckily, I have smart friends and one suggested a change of venue to a shady flat trail that runs along the Schuylkill River so things were looking better already.

We started off at a conversational pace and chatted about everyday life: vacations, frustrations with the cable guy, buying new furniture. Before we knew it we were at the end of the trail and had committed ourselves to a six mile run which is about a mile father than we usually go on a Tuesday. Amazingly, the humidity was not oppressive so even though it was hot the shade on the trail was enough to make the run pretty pleasant. The run back to the car was even better. Our pace picked up and we started having a more philosophical conversation about marriage and divorce and started to notice the trail itself a bit more: how many spider webs we were seeing clinging to the trees, how soothing the sounds of the cicadas were, how the foliage was ever so slightly starting to change from summer to autumn. And then we were back. Six speedy miles in the tank, homework done, relaxed and content.

In other news, I quite enjoyed all the feedback I got about my upcoming fall schedule! While most think I'm nuts there are a few out there who are doing similar crazy things. That said, I've already started to modify the plan. One of my scheduled runs is the Rocky Balboa 10K in Philadelphia in mid-November. I ran this one last year and it had an absolutely fantastic medal and it was a very fun day but I just found out that one of my husband's favorite runs is on that same day this year: The Foot Pursuit 5K and 5 Mile Run. His race is local, 5 miles instead of six, and costs a lot less. I'm leaning towards swapping out the Rocky run for this much more low key event that I can decide on at the last minute. By November I think I might need the time off and at the very least will enjoy NOT having to drive downtown for an event when I'll be doing that on Halloween for Rock'n'Roll and for the Philadelphia Half a week later.

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