August 1, 2011

Holding on with both hands


I never, until last year, ran farther than between the bases in a softball game. If I ran farther as a child, I don't remember. Superman got me started with this whole running thing. He ran in school. His father is an ultra-marathoner. I needed a form of exercise I could do at my own pace, and he needed to become active again. So we started running together.

The first time we tried running, I did not get very far. It did not last very long. I did a lot of grousing. I think I gave up after only a week or so.

I tried a few more times. For some reason, it finally stuck. Suddenly I could run a mile, and farther. I  didn't actually enjoy the experience, but I found I liked knowing I had run that far. I liked the way I felt when I was done.

Still, I only ran with Superman. We worked our running schedule around our social and work schedules. We ran at night, in the dark, because that is when he made it over to my house.

Then, at the end of last season, my knees started hurting. I was out for the better part of the winter. It affected Superman's running schedule, and he stopped running as well.

It was several months before I simply decided I would not let the knee pain stop me from running. I had races I'd signed up for. I had goals and things I wanted to accomplish. I started running again. Superman started running again. This time though, we were not running together. We sometimes got our long runs in together, but the shorter runs were solo.

On the longer runs, I still groused. Not as much as before, but I still complained when I was uncomfortable, when I was tired, when I hurt. Superman just ran.

Superman also changed his diet, and started losing weight. A lot of weight. He's lost 45 lbs. so far. In the process, his running and fitness goals changed. While I am still trying to run 10-milers and half marathons, Superman talks about being fit enough for an Ironman. He runs 6 miles where I run 4, and his long runs are not the walk-filled pain fests mine seem to be. He's gotten faster because he runs farther, he runs more often, and he is not carrying around the extra weight.

For some reason, I've gotten slower. In fact, it's gotten to be painful for him to stop, to slow down enough to accommodate my issues. The last race we did, he went on ahead and finished a good 5-10 minutes in front of me. I got mad. He was supposed to be running with me, and he left me behind. Never mind that I went out too fast, that I bonked, that I stopped and walked a great deal. I'm prone to anger and frustration that way, especially when I run.

I thought our days of running together were over, which made me very sad. He's too fast and I'm too slow. Then I thought maybe we could set down some ground rules, so we could still run together. He has to tell me if he's going to go on ahead, so I'm not frustrated because I can't keep up. He can't tell me "I can't run that slow." Keep it positive.

We're still trying to find a balance, and it's frustrating for both of us. Today's long run, he got ahead of me. In fact, I let him get ahead of me. I knew we'd gone out fast, but it felt comfortable for the first 5 miles. At that point though, I'd changed my fueling (added ice to my Gatorade/Gu concoction) and the heat was getting to me. Instead of getting mad at Superman for running too fast, I decided to run my own pace. Then I got mad at him when he went on ahead, and stayed on ahead. He did finally notice I wasn't with him, and slowed to a walk so I could catch up. That apparently seemed the perfect time for me to snap at him. *sigh*

I know I get frustrated when my body does not respond the way I want. I know I get frustrated because Superman runs faster, which leaves me with either the option to speed up to keep up with him, or run my own pace and let him go. Neither of us seem to have a good feel for what pace we're running, and I'm only starting to learn how to tell when I'm running too fast. Even knowing that, it doesn't change the fact that he cannot comfortably run as slow as I.

So I do speedwork, in part because I am competitive with myself, and in part because if I get faster these issues will go away. And I do crosstraining, because it seems to help with the issues that cause me pain. And I work on accepting my limitations when Superman and I run together.

I still have a ways to go, on all fronts.

Do you run with people who are faster than you? Do you do long or short runs with them? I tend to think Superman and I wouldn't have these problems on shorter runs, because I can keep a faster pace for the first 5 miles or so. Unfortunately, the only times we have to run together any more is on the weekends, when we do our long runs.

1 comment:

Pigeon said...

Finding the right mix is always hard with running partners, I run with others who are faster than me. I have to accept the fact they might leave me so that I don't get frustrated, but I find that running with faster runners it pushes me to get stronger. Just remember to have fun I have to tell myself that sometimes.