Running fast is terrifying. I read once that it feels like controlled falling. Falling kind of sucks and I heartily try to avoid it. In the one trail race I did last fall I slow motion tripped on an errant tree root and almost fell face first into the leafy path. It was sort of crazy and exhilarating.
To me running fast has always meant my heart would have to feel like it was about to explode, my lungs would be choking me and I’d need to shriek like a banshee because I’d have to be insane to be able to do it.
After running that first painful mile last January and training for races (and completing them) I started to obsess over my pace. That’s a lie. I was obsessing during training. Why wasn’t I faster? Was it because I’m still overweight? But there are all these stories of overweight people who start running and slim down and run faster than me. Why was my pace on par with the pace of the old guy in Spirit of the Marathon?* I’m only 32; I work out regularly, drink my water and eat healthy.** Shouldn’t I be faster than him?
Consistent weight training has made my legs and core strong. Why isn’t strong translating to fast? And the most terrifying question: is my fitness a lie?
This past weekend my Saturday long run was emotionally awful. I was feeling off, mentally bleh and I was anxious about my ever special digestive bits. It turned out to be a lovely day for a walk. Which is my way of saying, I did a lot of walking and my pace was extra slow. The aftermath of my 8+ mile run the previous Saturday (that would be pain in the gut region***) I let the miles scare me. (10!) I let the time scare me. (at least 2hrs!) Introspection makes me realize it probably wasn’t as bad as I thought physically — I simply didn’t have my mental shit together.
Towards the end, I got so fed up that I just tried going fast. I leaned forward, and bent my legs and I churned. I tried to run “light” like the guy in Born to Run. Stop clomping and stomping and bobbing up and down, Katie! Oddly enough, I managed to be pretty fast.
That was my last run before last night. I was anxious about the run because of the slow factor so I decided I’d try to recalibrate my Garmin foot pod. With that, I set off in a light run with sprints and walking breaks when I felt like it. My goal was covering enough distance for calibration, screw the rest of it. After 3 attempts, I think I got it only…the pace seemed so much faster than what I was used to. I felt like I was running stronger and faster, but could I really be running that fast? There was a “used” feeling in my hamstrings that I don’t generally associate with running. My guts felt fine. Did I actually achieve good form and run with a flexible, whole leg? Is my usual form too stiff and short? Garmin Connect, I shake my fist at you! (Hey, ya’ll feel free to be my friend on Garmin. I have none. I’m trmndsblndtte. I over share a lot because no one reads it but me!)
Next Tuesday I’m attending a “good running form” clinic at Garry Gribbles Running Sports (a local running store.) Did I mention it’s free? My friend Tara recently attended and with modifications she’s already shaved an entire minute off her mile time.
Of course, running fast is about more than form and breathing. It’s about consistency and pushing yourself through the hard and uncomfortable. Despite my exuberance and glee about bonding with nature I’m still having trouble getting myself out for those mid-week miles – and they matter.
So tonight I shall put on my running shoes and practice falling.
*No disrespect. That guy is AWESOME.
**When it’s not Mo’ Sugar March! So much sugar was consumed by me in March. And with it, fat and calories. Guess who probably didn’t lose any fat last month? Hence why it is now No Sugar April.
***A lot of people get the “OMG I’m GOING TO POOP MY PANTS!” feeling. That’s not generally what I get, though I’ve been there. For me, I get a pain that feels like I’ve seared my intestines like a Grade A steak. It can also feel like someone has inflated my intestines and then bound them with a rope and tied off the ends. Ultimately, I think one of my issues is what and how much I eat pre-run. And I’m not just talking about breakfast. Dinner the night before impacts how I feel. I’ve decided to ban beans from my day-before-a- long-run meal strategy. Instead of my beloved Chipotle bol (brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, corn, mild salsa and guacamole!) I am going to try my fabulous quinoa pasta with homemade sauce (lots of sautéed veggies with organic tomato paste, vinegar, basil olive oil, herbs and spices) and parmesan (because CHEESE!)