August 6, 2008

One Foot in Front of the Other

I only had one workout today, which is a first in my schedule for awhile. I usually try to plan two workouts, but decided to just run today. I'm trying to make running a higher priority and have a couple very heavy workout days ahead so a single-sport day felt right. I got up early and then procrastinated for hours to the point where I had to go at lunch. So to anyone who thinks I may no longer be lazy - I assure you, I am. It was overcast and relatively cool this morning so I should have been leaping out of bed and out the door, but instead I busied myself with pretty much anything else in order to put it off.

But once I was out there I really enjoyed it. The temperature had definitely risen and it was a humid day so I ran with a little 8-ounce bottle of Gatorade Endurance to avoid cramps. I've been battling side stitches this entire season and haven't yet found the magic formula for keeping them away entirely. My Gatorade strategy seemed to work well today. Over the course of 5 miles, I only had minor cramping twice.

I tried to stick to the bike path along the Hudson instead of the newly opened Hudson River Park since the park is paved in some sort of stone, maybe marble or granite. I've been doing all of my running on this surface and I'm starting to feel it - and hear it - in my knees. The oh-so-fun crunching is back and they ache a bit right after my runs. The bike path is at least asphalt so while not the best, it's better than concrete or stone. Unfortunately my plan was foiled when I reached the World Trade Center area and was forced onto concrete paved detours. I made a detour of my own and hit the streets throughout Battery Park City. It wasn't the smoothest or most direct run I've done, but at least it was a change of scenery. I also managed to fit in a half-mile or so on some newly cut grass that wasn't terribly lumpy. While this slowed my pace a bit, the break it gave my legs was well worth it. I'm planning a long run on Friday and think I'll go up to Central Park and do it on the bridal path since it's dirt and much easier on the joints. I really should be doing this at least once a week.

I tried to run a consistent pace today and focused on slowing my speed a bit. The consistency was just about accurate with splits of 8:34, 8:35, 8:28, 8:17 and 8:44 (well, almost accurate). I was aiming for an 8:40 or 8:45 average but the slightly quicker pace felt right so I went with it. My goal pace for the NYC Marathon is 9:00 and I've been training much lower, even on longer runs, thinking it would make the race feel easy. But I read a couple articles last night about slowing your long run pace by 45-90 seconds per mile to get the benefits of training without the risk of injury. That would mean running a 9:45 mile or even slower, which I haven't done in quite some time. This leads me to wonder a few things:

  1. Is my goal race pace too low? Should I be aiming for 8:30 or 8:45 instead? This would allow me to do my long run training at 9:15-9:30, which would still be very comfortable.
  2. Am I on Injury Road heading straight for disaster? I just increased my pace this spring and while it feels comfortable, maybe I should be reserving it for one workout per week and races, rather than all of my mileage. I've had multiple running injuries before and know I have limitations.
  3. If I don't decrease the intensity and manage to not get injured, will my legs really be ready for my best race, or will they be tired and beat up?

Clearly I have some things to figure out. I don't want another set of injuries, but I also don't want to sell myself short. I've finally become a better runner and really want to reap the benefits, but only if it's right for my body. I also need to get better at sensing my pacing. I've relied on my new Garmin 405, but unfortunately the pace per mile is never accurate when I run along the water. At times it says I'm doing a 12+ minute mile and then I'm hitting the mile marks in under 8:30. I will swear I'm running slow, then realize I've done that mile faster than the last. I used to be better at detecting this and need to dust off that skill to get through the rest of my training.

I'm feeling re-energized by running and just need to keep that momentum going. Now if only it would make me stop procrastinating.

Distance - 5 miles
Time - 42:47

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