Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Countdown to Ironman, Week 28: Running Doesn't Suck Anymore

I like to run. Sometimes I even love it.

I didn't use to like to run. I used to hate running. I used to say that running sucked, and that I sucked at running. But now I like it. Sometimes I think I'm maybe even not so sucky at it after all.

What changed? How does a person go from hating to disliking to barely tolerating to just doing to kind of liking to loving to run?

For me, there were several things that made a difference:

The first was Chi Running, which I've posted about before. That was my first introduction to a different style of running than the heel-striking, shin-splint inducing plod I had done for so many years. It was also the beginning of the end of my years of plantar fasciitis, ITB issues, knee braces, and shin splints. The twenty years before I found Chi Running were littered with running injuries and problems. The six years I've spent since then have been injury free. 'Nuff said.

After Chi Running came barefoot running and my first pair of Vibram Five Fingers in 2007. Now I run all of my weekly mileage, four times a week, in my Five Fingers. Pavement, trails, grass, concrete, dirt, bark. No matter, I run in them.

Two years ago I started trail running and that's when I went from "Like" to "Love" in my feelings about running. That's when I really started looking forward to runs. Being in the woods, away from traffic, noise, stress, and people really is the cherry on top of the running sundae for me.

Now comes Endurance Nation and their "Out Season" training plans. It turns out that I really like having some focus and work to my running. Now I wouldn't want to do this year-round because when the weather's nice, there's nothing like just getting out on a trail and going. But for right now in the dark part of the year, it's keeping me motivated and making me faster.

Granted, I started this year's off-season at a slower pace than normal. Breaking my arm meant very few running miles this summer, and the ones I did put in were S-L-O-W. No speed work, no track work. So when I did a 5k test at the beginning of my training plan seven weeks ago, it took me 27:11. Ouch. My PR is 25:00. Not anything like an actual REAL runner, but in the ballpark of decent.

I've been doing focused 1/2 mile and mile repeats in the seven weeks since that disappointing 5k test. They started out at an average 8:48 pace. Again, ouch. But look at the progress in the weeks since then!

Week1: 8:48
Week 2: 8:40
Week 3: 8:34
Week 4: 8:16
Week 5: 8:13
Week 6: 8:08
Week 7: 8:04

Now I don't think I'm ready to break my 5k PR just yet, but if this trend continues, it might be in the cards sometime this spring. As they say at Endurance Nation: "Work works!"

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