Monday, April 29, 2013

1000 Miles

Almost three years ago I began consistently logging my runs using the Nike+ website.  This month I passed 1000 miles.

I never set out with a goal to run a certain number of miles, so 1000 kind of snuck up on me.  Having run my whole life, I think I began logging my runs primarily to start keeping myself committed to run regularly, and maybe to see how much I was actually running.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Jun-Dec 2010:  32 runs, average distance 4.8 miles, annual total 155.89 miles.

Jan-Dec 2011:  64 runs, average distance 4.6 miles, annual total 295.26 miles.

Based on the data I captured for seven months in 2010, I probably ran just short of 300 miles for the whole year, just as I did in 2011.  That tracks with my own perception of how I was running.  I was fairly consistent, with most of my running happening in the best weather during spring and fall.  This is obvious when looking at the graph for 2011.  In June of 2011, I moved from southern Germany to Las Vegas, Nevada: a dramatic climate change, but my running picked up again in the fall.

Jan-Dec 2012:  77 runs, average distance 4.7 miles, annual total 364.83 miles

Climate change aside, something odd happened in 2012:  my mileage was low in the winter, and stayed low through the spring and didn’t pick up until fall.  I’m not really sure why, since the weather is fine for running year round in Las Vegas, except for during the day in the summer.  It seemed I just skipped my usual volume of running in spring and I’m not sure why.  Back to why I started tracking my runs:  based on my own perception, I wouldn’t have noticed this.  The records gave me the ability to look back.  Regardless, what brought caused in increase in miles toward the end of the year was my decision to run a half marathon.  I grabbed a training plan from Runner’s World and started to work toward the goal of entering and finishing the Rock ‘n‘ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon.  I ran that race in December 2012, ended the year strong and moved into 2013 pleased with what I had accomplished in the form of the half marathon.

Jan-Apr 2013:  42 runs, average distance 5.4 miles, annual total 228.77 miles. (Note: I had to repost this chart, which now runs through early October.)

I set a few goals for 2013:  to run at least two half marathons and to enter and run my first full marathon.  Little did I know that I’d almost immediately knock out one of the half marathons.  Late in December I received an email from Competitor prompting me to enter the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona event, pointing out that if I ran these two desert races back-to-back, I would pick up an additional finisher’s medal called the “Double Down”.  I entered and rolled right back into the last 30 days of training for a half marathon.  The new year was starting as strong as the previous year ended.

Now, four months into the year, I’m keeping my miles up better than in years prior.  As April comes to a close, I’ve logged just over 55 miles, pausing only for eye surgery at the very end of the month.  I’ll pick right back up again the second week in May, consistent with what the doctors advice.  I have my sights set on running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas marathon in November this year, and somewhere between now and that race I’ll find at least one more half marathon to run to achieve my goals for the year.  Also, if the last two thirds of this year mirror the first third, I'm on pace to log just short of 1000 miles in 2013 alone.  We'll see how that works out, but I'd like to think I can do it with just a few extra miles here and there.

So what does it all mean?  There’s certainly satisfaction in seeing I’ve run 1000 miles.  I’m looking ahead, I'll cross the 2000 mile mark sometime around the beginning of 2014.  If the marathon this fall goes as well as I hope, I want to run at least one marathon in 2014 and attempt a 50K later in the year.  I’m convinced seeing my running progress charted out has helped me run like I should, rather than just thinking I’m running like I should.  I can see when I’m slacking off.  Even so, the charts alone don’t motivate me completely.  While I have a goal of running to maintain fitness (physical, mental and emotional), without specific goals to reach (races, time improvements), while still good it will quickly become less purposeful.  I think this is what happened during the first half of 2012.  Entering and running races ensured I have something specific I’m shooting rather than just the general/overall purpose of fitness.

Then there’s a long-term goal--perhaps THE long-term goal:  to run for the rest of my life and to be an example for my son.  I want us to enjoy each other’s company for a long time to come, and hopefully serve as a good example for him.  And you already know why.  Because...

It’s great to be a dad!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Running Etiquette (Part 2)

My last post covered ten of my running etiquette “rules” and as promised, here are the rest.  I hope you find them useful!

Here we go, picking up at number 11:
  1. (#11)  The road or trail doesn’t care about you.  Potholes, rocks, lose gravel and the weather are indifferent about what you’re doing.  Wildlife doesn’t respect you or your good intentions either.  Don’t let the routine, the ordinary, or your experience lull you into a false sense of security.  Be prepared for the things that don’t usually bite you, literally and figuratively.  Hope for the best but have a reasonable plan for the worst.
  2. (#12)  Have a plan.  In the spirit of the previous rule, let folks know your plan and carry some form of identification.  Whenever possible I let my wife know where I intend to run and how far/long I expect to go. I’m also a huge fan of Road ID.  Let’s face it, we’ve all set out to run a certain route and/or distance, along the way you change the plan for any number of reasons and suddenly you’re not where you said you’d be.  Then you find yourself needing help.  Back to Road ID--pure figurative gold and very affordable.  No matter what, if someone finds you, they have the info they need to render aid and contact someone you’ve designated on your behalf.  If you’re an outdoor athlete, whether you run, walk, bike, ride horses, etc., get yourself a Road ID.  Hopefully the worst never happens, but if it does, make it easy for someone else to help you.  If Road ID isn’t your thing, that’s fine.  Just find a way to ensure others can find out who you are and render aid to you in the event you’re unable to ask for their help.
  3. (#13)  Hygiene matters.  If you’re an early morning runner it seems in most cases the shower understandably happens after the run.  Fine, but no matter what time of day you run, brush your teeth before you hit the pavement or trail, especially if you’re going to run with someone else.  We runners love our air and when we run we sure move a lot of it in and out of our lungs.  When you’re running with others, minty fresh (or even mediciny) breath always wins over last night’s egg salad or the kimchi you ate at lunch.  Trust me.  Your clothes matter too.  You might not notice or mind the clothes you’ve repeatedly run in for the last week, but your running buddy will.  Being frugal is one thing, but consider how often you probably ought to swap your shorts and tech tee for a fresh set.  Ditto for your body.  I didn’t forget what I said at the start of this rule, but knowing you’ll get a little “aromatic” when you log the next several miles isn’t a good reason to put off the shower that you probably already needed yesterday.  Last thing on this topic: if you run in Vibram Five Fingers, please throw those things in the washer every now and then.  Yes, you can do that!  They’ll hold up just fine and we won’t have to smell your feet even when you’re still 25 yards away.
  4. (#14)  Running is a journey.  I’m talking about a lifestyle or even a lifetime and of running, but just about every individual runs contain a little piece of that journey.  This one probably warrants a separate, dedicated post as well.  You hear runners talk about facets of this all the time when they say things like “listen to your body.”  When you run, you have time to strip away the usual daily grind at the office or at home.  It’s you, your body and your thoughts.  If you run regularly, you’ll inevitably find yourself noticing things about your body that you’ve never noticed before.  You’ll have the chance to work through issues mentally ranging from how your body is managing the physical stresses, pains and achievements of the run, to matters that the “normal” day doesn’t afford you the chance to dedicate thought to.  You can daydream, or listen to music or books.  You can actually enjoy an uninterrupted conversation with a friend who runs with you.  You’ll see the world around you differently.  You see things you’ve never noticed on the road you normally drive down.  The trail in the woods you never see other than to drive by becomes a beautiful adventure and a world all its own.  Over time all those runs add up and the time spent running makes you a better person:  physically and mentally.  Others may or may not notice, but you will.  That’s why I say running is therapy for the body and mind.
  5. (#15)  Run for fun!  I’m concluding by circling back to some of the thoughts in the earlier rules.  Don’t get all wrapped up in the gear.  Get yourself a good pair of shoes and get going--alone or with a friend.  Old shorts and a t-shirt are just fine.  Buy other stuff when and if you decide you need it.  Don’t let other people or someone else’s running attire become your excuse for not hitting the road or trail.  Generally speaking I don’t look like a runner, and quite often I don’t wear what some might consider the “right” clothes.  Whatever.  Enter races if you want, and if you do, have fun.  As Nike says, “just do it.”  Brookes says, “run happy.”  There are dozens of other appropriate slogans out there.  Pick one and take it to heart!
If you’re not a runner and this has encouraged you, let me know if you decide to get out there!  If we live near each other I’ll gladly run with you  If not, I’ll gladly be your virtual running buddy. 

As always, it’s great to be a dad!

DISCLOSURE:  Road ID did not ask me to review, support or recommend their product.  I don't have a relationship with them other than as a happy customer.  I've not been compensated in any way.  The opinion expressed here is completely my own.