A blog by a guy named Chris who writes about running. Usually trail running--often at the ultramarathon distance. See you on the trails...I may be wearing those funky FiveFinger shoes...or no shoes at all!
"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." -T.S. Eliot
"Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional." -Dalai Lama
"The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art." -Leonardo da Vinci
In the midst of the summer heat and humidity, I have found tranquility. An inner peace. I no longer surrender to the high dew points, hot temperatures, and blazing sun. I just run. No worries. What's my secret? Good question. I now own two Under Armour Heat Gear compression shirts (long sleeve). Kinda odd to wear long sleeves to beat the heat, but these things work! Really well. I hate compression apparel, but these tight shirts simply do the job. Long sleeves and all. They keep me cooler and moving longer than any other shirt I've ever worn. That's major praise from this old trail runner. Whatever technology they employ, it works. Grabs the sweat and helps it evaporate. Even when humid, they work better than other running shirts. When you get a little drier air, and a breeze, these shirts feel like a refridgerator on your skin. I'm still not comfortable wearing a tight compression shirt. With my tall and skinny body, I resemble a crane or spider...but I'll do what I need to stay cool. Extra bonus...they keep the sun off your skin as well as sun block. Only drawback, besides the tight-to-skin fit, is that they are hard to put on and take off--especially when already sweaty. I look like a deranged clown trying to escape from a straight-jacket. Still, these Heat Gear shirts are my preferred summer wear. Better than loose short sleeved shirts. Better than bare skin. Give one a try and you may regularly be cruising around in tight muscle shirts just like me.
This shirt may be my ticket to winning the Howl at the Moon ultra in 2 weeks. Did I say "win"...I meant "not die" at that 8-hour race. I will survive Howl at the Moon! Only 14 days to ultra/marathon #100.
Sometimes running isn't easy. I guess if it was easy, everyone would run. In races, you push hard and it hurts. In shitty running conditions, even your basic training runs are challenging. Fast intervals can suck. Extreme long runs are painful. Well, get over it! Running isn't supposed to be easy all the time. You need to embrace the suck. Turn inward and appreciate your masochistic side. Enjoy the suffering.
Life for many runners, especially those in America, is generally pretty easy. We have basic needs taken care of--shelter, food, clean water. Many, like myself, have a pretty easy work life--office work with few physical demands. Eight hours of work and I return home to a fairly sheltered existence. Easy living. It's important to experience suffering every once in a while. Pain, distress, anxiety, frustration...they all build character and make success and happiness all that much better. When your running turns south, embrace it. Relish the discomfort. Find your inner masochist and enjoy the ride. You'll be a stronger runner and a tougher individual.
After you've learned to truly enjoy the pain, invite friends along for the suck-fest. Embrace your sadistic side too! My buffalo brethren don't call me "S&M" for nothing.
Yesterday I finally completed a double digit "long run." It was barely 11 miles, but it was the longest run I've had since May. This does not bode well for my upcoming ultra in 27 days. Those 11 miles really made me tired. I'm sure it was partly due to the extreme humidity...and also the 100% water logged trail. It ain't easy running with super-heavy and sloshy shoes and socks. But, I'm also realistic--I have no endurance. Can I gain that endurance in the next 4 weeks? Probably not.
I'll do what I can over the next 4 weeks to develop my aerobic base. I know I need to remain patient as I build back to my previous fitness level. If I push too hard, it'll back fire. The last thing I need is a running injury. Slow and steady progress is the wise path to success. My "new" run-as-I-feel strategy has been good this past week. I'll continue to run by feel and not worry about pace. Or heart rate. Or efficiency. Just run as I see fit. I hope that's enough.
Of course, hoping only gets you so far. I need long runs. Eleven miles this weekend. Thirteen next weekend. Fifteen the next. Then rest for one weekend and run for 8 hours at the Howl ultra. With a patient run-walk strategy, I should be able to break 30 miles. Maybe even come close to...
No goals or Howl. I'll certainly break 26.2 miles and likely exceed 31 miles. Any extra miles are pure bonus. One thing I know for sure...the day after Howl I'll be very tired. Double-tired. Maybe even triple-tired.
Happy Fourth of July. Glad our country made it another year.
Of more interest to me, is my running independence. Today I decided to stop being a slave to my GPS watch and heart rate monitor. Yes, I've said this before on this very blog. This is my 917th blog post so there is room for changing values and training plans. I'll let you search for my past rants. There are plenty. Often, those previous rants and supposedly passionate commitments didn't last long. Maybe this one won't either, but it's a bit different.
I will continue to monitor all my regular running statistics, but I won't set any watch alarms for pace, distance, or heart rate. And, I'll simply let my watch record behind the scenes as I have it set to display "time of day" and nothing else. I'll run by instinct. The old "go as a I feel" running program. I want to be more in tune with my body. Less with my mind. It's about enjoying the run, not improving. It's about feeling good, not training for maximum efficiency. Walk when I want, sprint when I feel it. Skip days when I'm not up to getting outside. Not sure how this will impact my racing, but I'm pretty darn sure it'll help my overall running...and likely increase my happiness.
I was catching up on my running magazines this weekend. The May/June 2015 issue of Running Times struck a chord with me. The editor's note talks about becoming a running hedonist...
"People will continue to find ways that our obsession (with running) might be bad for us. But rather than argue, let's just own our excess. Let's be running hedonists, charging blissfully over miles and mountains. Running is bad for my health? I don't care. Running is good for my life."
Indeed, running is good for me. Maybe it brings health and fitness too. But it certainly brings more happiness to my life. Why should I measure my running successes with metrics derived from my fancy GPS watch? How about just feeling my run and judging my success based on that sense of being in the moment? On this Independence Day, I declare freedom from my watch and artificial metrics. I will run for me. I will run free.
Care to join my new hedonistic lifestyle? Run free, my friends. Run free.