Sunday, May 10, 2009

A weekend of joyful running

I've really enjoyed running this weekend and I'll give much of the credit to my new shoes. The pleasure of running pain-free combined with the feeling of moving efficiently has often eluded me over the last couple of months. I am appreciating the Brooks although I do wish that the tongue extended higher past the throat to provide more padding when the laces are tightened. Other than that they are really great and they have quickly dispatched my leg soreness issues. I thought I might redeploy my Nikes as my office running shoes so I tried them again with the after market insoles I had recently purchased. Wearing the Brooks over the last seven days gave me an opportunity to compare the two pairs and the new insoles in the Nikes exaggerated the pronation and made me realize why I needed a stability shoe. I went back to the original insoles and that stabilized the Nikes enough to use them for another activity: a Mothers Day soccer game with my wife and kids.

As for running, I did more miles over a (two day) weekend than ever before. On top of yesterday's near six I ran 4.6 miles this morning. Like yesterday, I did this distance feeling very strong and I wasn't especially tired by the end. As I ran I worked on my form and stride and played with my pace a bit. I did the first quarter mile along a measured distance and noticed that the Garmin was tracking about 6% short. I knew I would need to Gmap my route against my total time to get my true pace but at least I knew that whatever the Garmin was reporting I had run faster and farther. I mixed up my route and covered some streets I haven't taken in a while. The whole run felt great and, for the second time this weekend, I reached the "zone" that I had heard of and read about but had never personally experienced. Where was the noble suffering that I had come to expect? Was this some great breakthrough that has propelled me from the status of beginner to something more? Had the Emerging Runner finally emerged?

Well, not exactly.

I do think that I've made progress and I'm a far better runner than I was nine months ago but much of this weekend's experience had to do with using the right gear and focusing more on duration and less on speed. My pace for today's run was 9:17 which surprised me because I thought I was moving along at a better clip. But I now know through experience that I can integrate speed into my distance runs every few minutes and gain 20 or more seconds per mile. In the meantime I'll be happy to have run 10.5 miles over two days and loved every minute of it.

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