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Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Tag Archives: joy

Going to Your Happy Place – Finding the Joy in Running

I drank some Gatorade Pro, but I didn’t want to.  I put on my running gear, but I didn’t feel like it.  My allergies were acting up, I wanted to take a nap, but I am in training for a marathon… so I begrudgingly trudged out the door.

parkAs I was driving to the greenways for a run, I was imagining which course I would run my 4 miles.  Hal Higdon’s Advanced II training schedule said I should run 4 miles at my target marathon pace.  Should I start out by the Earth Fair market and run down the 3rd Creek Greenway.  No.  I almost always run that.  I don’t feel like it.  Should I start out at Tyson park and run towards the UT football stadium?  Nah.  Just don’t feel like it.  Should I run Cherokee Boulevard, where I had “Slayed the Specter of a Bad Run” before?  No.  I really don’t think I’m supposed to run hills today.

I turned towards that one anyway.  “After all,” I reasoned with myself, “I’ve got to run somewhere.”  Thankfully, as I approached the parking lot near the zero mile marker on Cherokee Boulevard I saw something inspiring:  the cross country course at Sequoyah Park!  I have watched my kids run several cross country races there.  Each time, I was reminded of my own high school cross country career.  I always told myself that I would run the course and see how I would do.  Today was the day!

Seeing the park this morning triggered good memories of my kids and the good memories of my high school experience.  I was immediately drawn.  My body was a few minutes behind my heart.  I was a little stiff.  I jogged a few hundred feet and stretched just a little.  Right there and then, I decided that my body would just have to kick in because my heart was saying, “Go!”

I ran the full 5k course and added 1 mile.  I started out stiff, but trying hard and squeaked out the first mile in about 7:30.  I started to get a rhythm going and gradually loosened up.  I was running in my happy place…caught up somewhere between old memories, new memories, & the flat grassy area I was running on next to the river/lake.  I was caught up in several moments at once and all of them were good.  🙂

I ran the final 2.15 miles at around a 7:00 mile pace and walked another half mile back to the car.  My goal for the day was to run 4 miles at around a 7 minute pace.  I managed to go a little farther, on grass, and kept it at an average of 7:08.  Not bad for a day when I just really didn’t feel like running.

The main accomplishment of the day, however, was capturing the joy of running when I didn’t seem to have it.

How do you get to your happy place?

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

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Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

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Running Naked: The Effects of Watchless Running

A fellow runner posted this question to me:

Hi, P. Mark!!

What has been your experience with watchless running and racing? I race without a watch but I want to start training without a watch, just enjoying runs and doing true fartlek runs, don’t care wearing a watch during intervals, I have been obsesses with splits for so long that I want to try something different, I have tried fartlek runs without a watch in the past and I raced decent and I loved the freedom of it!! Do you think that the training and racing suffers training watchless always ( even for hard workouts)?

Cesar

Most runners feel naked without a timing device.  That is why I refer to an untimed run as a Naked Run.

It is not the watch or GPS device that we miss.  What we are missing is data, the opportunity to analyze our running and make informed decisions about our progress and the effectiveness of our workouts.

Well, Cesar, I know exactly what you mean.  We get so caught up in the numbers sometimes that is easy to forget some important things.

  • First, in the attempt to focus on our pace and or form, we sometimes forget the simple joy of getting lost in a run. The act of lacing up your shoes and enjoying the freedom that running brings.  There is joy in movement.  There is joy in enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells on the run.
  • Second, we forget to give ourselves a little latitude.  On hot and humid days, we sometimes forget to adjust our goal times and end up frustrated throughout the run.  Cold and rain can throw us off pace as well.  Too  much focus on a regimented training with exact paces can drive you crazy.

Does a GPS device or a watch do this to us?  No, we do it to ourselves.  The watch is just a tool.  It is not the Garmin’s fault.  The Garmin is innocent.

Say it with me: 

“The loss of the simple joy of running and the negative feelings created by a “bad workout” are the fault of no one or no thing except myself.”

Now that we have that out of the way, let us move on to the other extreme.  What would happen if we all started running naked?

The Effects of Naked Running

The truth is that there is not one answer that fits all.  What is true for all runners is that pace is important.

  • Running too fast can lead to injury; a watch can tell you when to slow down.
  • Running too slow can lead to frustration because you are not making progress as fast as you could.

If you have been watching your pace like a hawk for years, you can probably “run by feel.”  Running by feel simply means that you can tell when you are running at or near the most important benchmarks.  If you are that runner, you do not need a watch to know when you are pressing against the limit of your lactate threshold.  You know when your body has switched from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism.  For these experienced runners, the danger of never wearing a timing device is gradually losing your sense of pace.  Without timing periodically, you could venture to far away from your goal paces.

For those runners who are less aware of how these things feel, we need to go by pace and/or heart rate.  For our key workouts of the week, we have to wear our watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS devices.  This includes slow runs!

Striking a Balance

I do not believe that any runner should do all of their runs with a watch or GPS device.  I believe that one or two runs a week should be simple, relaxed runs where you can let go of the pressures of the world AND the pressures of training.  Just go out for a run.

I also believe that the experienced runners still needs to wear the devices at least once or twice a week.  It will allow you to document your runs and show your progress.  You will want this data months or years from now.  Wearing the device periodically can also tell you if your “sense of pace” is a little off.  If you are surprised by how fast or slow you are going, it is time to wear the watch more often for a while.

If you find yourself over-focused on pace and unable to enjoy the run, add some Naked Runs to your week.

Here are some related posts about the importance of pace:

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

P. Mark Taylor

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