Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Running off the grid

Yesterday I had lunch with my friend CK. He's one of my running mentors, a terrific guy who has been at it for decades. CK asked me about my post-pneumonia running progress and I filled him in. I asked him what he thought about the big "mid-foot/barefoot/heel striking" debate that's going on now but he just gave me a bemused look and said that he doesn't pay attention to any of that. CK said, "I just run."

I've discovered that every runner has his or her own way of engaging with the sport. Some are into the performance aspects and some are completely focused on the experience of running. I'm probably somewhere in the middle. CK is a high performing runner who regularly beats all the neighborhood twenty-somethings in his town's annual Turkey Trot. He doesn't own a Garmin watch, a Nike+ device or anything else that tracks and records the various running metrics. When he bought some new running shoes I wanted to hear every detail. He couldn't even tell me which ones he bought (turns out they were NB 1225's). CK just runs fast. He sometimes carries a stopwatch but that's about it.

I have my two-week follow-up with my doctor tonight so I've kept things low key this week in terms of exercise. I decided to spend about 20 minutes or so running on the treadmill this morning since I've rested for the past two days. I really wanted to make sure that I kept to a moderate pace so, inspired by my talk with CK, I left my foot pod on the side table and ran for 22 minutes without recording distance, pace, cadence or heart rate. I felt no pressure to maintain a brisk pace and that helped me to limit how far I set the speed control on the treadmill. I started things out very easy but stepped it up after a few minutes. I stayed below the 6/7 MPH range and focused on mid-foot landing and higher cadence. I increased the speed for the last four minutes but didn't push it to the point of discomfort. It felt like a workout and without the metrics I had no regrets about whether I ran fast or far enough. This doesn't mean I'm done with recording my workouts. It just means that sometimes knowing less helps you more.

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