October 21, 2010

A learning experience

I went out this afternoon for a little 4 mile run (like the way a 4-miler has now become "little"? I do!) I had to put something in the mail, so thought I would run the reverse of Tuesday's route, which went so well. Easy peasy, right? L-O-L! My legs laughed at me. At least that's what I thought they were doing. Turns out I have absolutely no concept of pace.

I started at what I thought was a reasonable pace, struggling a little because I wasn't warmed up and wasn't well hydrated (something I REALLY have to fix, as this happens all too often). I was focusing on the new stride I used Tuesday, but my legs felt tired. I stopped to mail my letter, then again for a short walk at almost the 2 mile marker. I didn't feel I was pushing, just that I was tired. Little did I know I ran that mile, even with stops, at a 10:37!

I heard Jog Log announce I was at 2 miles, just as I was sitting down to readjust my toe setup (tape and hammer-toe silicon thingee). Putting myself back together, I ran a bit more comfortably up the slow grade that Superman and I ran down for a sub-11 negative split the other day. 12:37 for that mile, 12:10 for the 3rd, and a 12:52 for the 4th. I walked a bit of the 3rd, and probably the last quarter mile of the 4th mile, because the toe situation shifted and was lifting toes I neither need nor want lifted. Very uncomfortable. The tape worked well enough Tuesday, so I'll have to figure out what I did differently today.

I thought I was doing my first mile at an 11-minute pace, and the subsequent miles between 12 and up to 15 with the walks. If Jog Log can be trusted, I am running faster than I thought, which is a WONDERFUL thing! It means I am progressing, which I have not felt for several months. I am attributing the progress to my new stride, because in addition to running faster than I have ever recorded, I also actually feel like I'm RUNNING now. 

9/12/10 River Run Half Marathon
Before, I had short little strides that carried me slowly from point A to point B. The best I could call it was jogging, and sometimes it was more like wogging (a walking jog), only not as pretty as race walkers! In race photos, you can see both my feet are touching the ground at the same time (and yes, I see the heel strike, too). This was taken at the 2nd mile of September's half marathon. 

Today, while my legs did feel tired, when I had the stride going I actually felt I was running instead of jogging or wogging. I can FEEL that my feet are not on the ground at the same time. In the 4th mile, I was able to speed up and bound across the street well ahead of traffic, where before I would have waited for the traffic to pass.

I don't know how long I can sustain this stride, or this new pace of mine, on any one run. I assume my legs were tired from Tuesday, but also from running so fast today. I found myself falling back into my old stride at times, which made me work harder for the same speed. It will certainly be a struggle at the Cleveland Fall Classic, a month from today. 

I'll find out Saturday, on my long run, if I can either slow the stride or maintain it at the new, higher speed for longer distances. I'm also trying to work out a better fuel strategy for the long runs. After reading Angie Bee's recent marathon report, and experiencing a minor hamstring cramp during the last few runs, I'm wondering if I'm missing something by not focusing on electrolytes. The biggest question is how to carry everything, and how to stomach it all on the long runs. 

Guess I'll figure something out, one way or the other. Just another learning experience...

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