A Natural Pace
Saturday, May 25, 2013
It's Saturday of a three day weekend. I'm undecided as to what I want to do with the extra day, and I'm enjoying moving in a leisurely and not terribly efficient manner through my routines.
There's a 5K at 8 AM on Monday. I'm 80% certain I'll pass on it, but if I'm up early Monday and feel like it, I could go register and run that morning. To leave that possibility open, I decided to run today and let Sunday be a non-running day.
When I hit the road it was 50° F with sunshine and a N wind at 15 mph. That figured into the decision; it's hard to pass up near-perfect running weather. Today is the start of a new phase in my running. I'm not in training for any event, and the sore leg is almost 100%. The bad foot is still not 100%, and has been better; but it's not so bad that I can't run. The idea is to run for pleasure, and to run in such a way as to minimize the chance of taking myself out of the game.
With that in mind, I decided today I wanted to run at a comfortable pace. This would not necessarily be a slow pace, as I shouldn't really do a long run yet; but I need to put Mr. Testosterone to sleep and just enjoy myself. I had been using RunKeeper to tell me my average pace and split pace every minute when trying to run slow. Today I cut that down to every three minutes, in order to have some feedback but not the constant feedback for running slow that can sometimes encourage Mr. Testosterone to be more active. The idea is to listen to my body and run as feels good, not run to a specific time or pace.
I didn't have a specific route in mind when I started. Around the section to the west was attractive, but that commits me to 4.6 miles and I wasn't sure I wanted to run that far today. So I started out toward the residential streets, and at the first turn decided to run the big hill in the easy direction, then play the rest of the route by ear after I got that far.
I've learned a bit about my walking pace from using RunKeeper while walking. Most walks, I end up walking faster after I get into it. What I think is going on is, I naturally warm up slower and then get into the walk. That partially explains why I had always done well with walking, even before measuring pace, without having a formal warmup. Let's just let things roll naturally today and see if running works the same way.
At three minutes, RunKeeper told me my average pace was 7:50 per mile. That was a little slower than it felt like, but go with the flow. As expected, the average pace picked up over the course of the run. I made no particular effort to run harder going up the big hill, and made no particular effort to slow down going down the big hill. Some of the split paces on the other side of the big hill sounded fast; but I bore in mind they included the early part of mile 3 going down the big hill.
After the big hill, I decided that I'd run 35 minutes, just like week 4 of the 5K Your Way training - except I'm in better shape now than when I went through the 5K Your Way program. That worked out to adding one little hill and fiddling with the twisty route in the residential streets, so that I ended up almost to my driveway at 35 minutes. I ran to my driveway as a convenient marker, then went into the walking cooldown.
The total route came out to 4.82 miles in 35:06, for an average pace of 7:17 per mile. The mile splits were 7:40, 7:10, 7:07, and 7:16, with an average pace of 7:12 for the last fractional mile. Looks like if I just run naturally, taking care to start slow enough, running works a lot like walking. The initial slower pace speeds up to a comfort level, then pretty much stays there. Right now, that looks like a natural warmed up pace between between 7 and 7:15 per mile. Yes, I can run faster; but this pace felt comfortable and not like I was working excessively hard.
I may have found a model for how to manage running for pleasure, in the absence of any need to train for a race. Perhaps I'll get more into training later on; but for right now, the idea is to run for fun and avoid injury. Setting appropriate limits needs to be part of this, and that's still a bit of a fuzzy judgment call.
I could have run further, and I could have run for more distance; but this puts me at 12.47 miles for the week, which is right around what I've run the past two weeks while training for and participating in a race. And I ran that race very hard. This is not the day to stretch for distance or duration.
It's kind of a different experience to be running to avoid injury, while not feeling the effects of injuries I'm trying to rehab. I like not feeling injured, and I like running and feeling healthy while running as well as feeling healthy after the run is over. I don't want to lose that. So, I need to limit distance and limit time to modest increases. The 12 mile per week base isn't solid enough yet to stretch it to 15 miles. Maybe in a month or so, but not now. There are limits to how much I can add, how fast. I've found too many of those limits the hard way. Now I need to try *not finding* the limits while still making progress.
That's today's pep talk. Today was a good running day.