Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Which friend do you want to be?

Today's run (street): 2.6 miles

I know a person who runs about 40 minutes every few days. The time is arbitrary because he doesn't wear a watch. He thinks that he runs about four miles each time he goes out but he's not really sure. My friend has little idea of his pace but guesses he runs around 10 minutes per mile. I know another person who cycles through a weekly regimen of training: intervals on the track, tempo runs, strides, Fartleks and distance runs. He knows his paces for all these activities. He usually hits his desired numbers. These two people enjoy running, but the way they engage is very different.

I'm somewhere in the middle in terms of activity and expectations. I do care about my distance and pace but I don't devote much time to the core training activities that help make one faster or better prepared for tough conditions. I view my running satisfaction against two criteria -- performance and experience. Performance is defined for me very specifically: a pace as far below 9:00 per mile as possible or covering a challenging distance. Experience is much more arbitrary. That's defined by how I feel. Some runs are relatively slow but feel great. That's a successful experience. Other runs hit the mark on performance but the price paid is pain and/or injury. Not so successful. As a recreational runner I look for equilibrium between these two criteria. When that balance is reached I am a happy runner.

Today I was not a happy runner. I took my usual rest day on Monday and by last night I was feeling ready to run. We had kinetic storms overnight with wind, thunder and lightning and I feared I'd be stuck on the treadmill today. It was slightly rainy when I got up at 3:45 and I decided to go for it. From my first few steps off my driveway I could tell that I would have trouble on this run. I couldn't generate the leg turnover I needed to get to my desired speed and I felt a bit tired. I hoped that initial fatigue would give way to a boost of energy after a few minutes and while things did improve, it wasn't by much. I ended up running for 25 minutes and only covering 2.6 miles in total. Sub-par performance against my expectations and a fairly miserable experience in the process. On one hand I did go out under rainy skies and did my workout long before most of the world was thinking about waking. If I was friend #2 I'd be furious about my poor performance. If I was friend #1 I'd probably think "That wasn't as much fun as usual, maybe next time I'll feel better." I think friend #1 makes the better point.


  1. Peter

    Mike McGinniss here. I was planning my race schedule after taking an extended break from training since July. Not necessarily what I preferred but had a pinched nerve in my neck that got pretty painful in June after a big triathlon in CT. Caught a link to your blog by chance and realized I've been missing quite a bit by not tuning in every day. Will try and become a regular. Great stuff and inspiring me to beef up my upcoming schedule. Let's chat soon.



  2. Hi Mike - Yes, let's catch up very soon. I want to hear what's going on with you and more about the triathlon experiences. Thanks for the kind words about the blog. Hard to believe one can talk so much about one subject, right?


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