Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stages of my daily run

By this point in my return to running my conditioning has prepared me to run far longer than I ever have before. Running a full mile, an imposing goal back in August, has become just another part of my run. While the first mile is no longer an imposing challenge I've discovered that getting through it can still be pretty tough. My typical run experience goes through these stages:

1. Starting struggles
During the first three minutes of a run I often carry on an internal debate about whether I am prepared to run my targeted distance. If I haven't stretched properly (true 98% of the time) I tell myself I'm unprepared to go on any further.

2. Acknowledgment that I will continue
Despite the internal dialog I never actually quit. About seven minutes into my run I usually check my Nike+ Sportband to see my progress and note that I'm almost at a mile. This motivates me further.

3. Comfort
Some time after mile 1 I am properly warmed up and I have established a comfortable pace and stride.

4. Sweat
Before my second mile I'll usually begin to feel the workout. That's really the point. It's at this stage that I assess my progress and gauge whether I'll run more or less distance than originally planned.

5. Equalibrium
Depending on the length of the run there can be a point when I begin to feel stronger. This is sometimes described as a second wind. I find that this frequently happens around mile 3.

6. Negotiating the finish
Once I get closer to my planned endpoint I'll decide whether to extend my run. Nearing completion sometimes results in fatigue as I anticipate the finish. If I can convince myself to go on I'll try to append an extra quarter or half mile to my run.

As I run longer distances and improve my conditioning I'll be curious to see if my stage 1 struggles end. Although I do have these beginning run challenges I know by now that it's just a stage that I will get through.


  1. Great post! I identify with the struggles you describe having during the first mile. It's partly why I like the NYRR races in Central Park. There are so many people running that I'm distracted during the first mile looking at all the people around me and trying not to trip over anyone. Before I know, it the first mile's over and then the crowd starts to thin. When I start adding longer training runs (6 to 8 miles) to my routine, I also find that the mile one struggles disappear. Maybe you'll find that with increased mileage the same happens for you.

    Also, I'm impressed (and jealous!), because I usually start to sweat about 3/4 of a mile in!

  2. AG - I think you are right, that it's primarily related to conditioning. As I've said, I can't match you for that. Yesterday's run was much easier over the first mile but I really hit the wall after mile 3 three. I wonder if there was a relationship between my strong start and a tough finish.

    The sweat stage can happen sooner based on how I've dressed and the outside temp. I tend to under-dress on longer outside runs to stay cool longer. That may also be why the start is sometimes hard.


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