Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Key to Success?

I have had some of the best days of running in the last week, that I have had in a long time. Now, when I say “best” I don’t necessarily mean “fast.” Rather, the quality of the running has been above average.

I kicked things off on Saturday with a 14 miler through Fairmount Park with some of the folks from the running club. The following day, Sunday, I got up and went to the Sunday Delco morning run. I wasnt feeling great – I had a late night – so I was only banking on running 4 miles. The Sunday course is typically 7.1 miles, with a huge hill about 3/4 of the way into the course. I was planning on cutting off right before the hill. I was in a pretty good groove when I got to the cutoff, and I said “eff it” and went for it. Surprisingly, I didnt feel terrible. Granted, I wasn’t setting any kind of records on the ascent, but I felt good enough that I wasnt cursing out mankind and the world itself, as is my normal frame of mind whenever I am running uphill for any sustained amount of time. Anyway, so that impromptu hill run made the grand total for Sunday’s run 7 miles.

Monday night, I ran with the club at the Ridley YMCA. Normally, I only run one loop of the course which is about 3.2 miles. I was feeling good, and I was running with another guy, Steve, who always does two loops. When I finished the first loop, I said “eff it” and ran the 2nd loop with him.

Last night, I showed up for the Tuesday night run, which is typically 7 miles, but there’s a cutoff at 5 miles. I did the 5 miles. I wanted to run the 5 mile course tonight in Swarthmore, but a) I am tired and b) I got out of work later than I wanted to. Still, that’s quite a bit of distance to cover in four days, at least for me. 14+7+6+5 = 32. If I wasnt so tired, I would have run tonight. My legs arent tired – I am physically tired from a crappy night’s sleep. My legs fee fine.

I am would like to run tomorrow, Friday, and Sunday. I have to time a race Saturday morning and then the Pickle is later in the afternoon so I am going to defer the long run until Sunday. I have to touch base with the running club to see what’s on the menu for this weekend.

Idealistically, I would like to do 18 on Sunday. If I did 18 on Sunday, five tomorrow and so 5 on Friday, that would put me at 40 miles for the week. I would be happy with that, or maybe take it easy Friday with a slow 3 miler.

So that’s a lot of miles, and I feel really good, so what’s the difference? Last week, I didnt run for 5 days because of my calf. Why such the dichotomy in my fitness?

Answer: Track flats

I bought a pair of Nike Waffle Racers about 4 years ago. I picked them up cheaply and my intent was to use them for triathlon and 5k’s. I never really used them ever for training – maybe a handful of times in prep for a race.

I’ve been doing alot of research on barefoot running, as I think I had mentioned in some previous blog posts. If you recall, I tried the Vibram Five Fingers, and they werent for me. However, the next best thing to barefoot running is “minimalist” running – the use of shoes that do not include any type of motion control, cushioning, etc.

So, Sunday, I strapped on the Waffle’s and did the Sunday run, and I felt great. Monday, I wore them again and felt great, and again last night. My legs felt great and I felt as though I had recovered quicker from day to day. The only small issue I have is that my calves are sore, but not in pain, like they were last week. Apparently, sore calves are the norm for the first couple of runs as the body adapts to different mechanics, so I am not concerned. And like I said, what I am feeling is definitely soreness, and not pain.

I am going to continue to run in these shoes for the foreseeable future. I’ve been told to keep an eye out for stress fractures and that sort of thing, but until then, I am going to keep trucking along.

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