board and repeatedly trying to get the job done. It was rather sad, because he clearly didn’t understand the laws of physics, gravity and basic carpentry. But boy did he try, to the point where he probably gave himself a concussion and maybe even given himself some brain damage. I bet he didn’t even remember doing all that nonsense to himself until he saw the video afterward.
Anyway, attempting feats such as this only makes me realize how much closer we are to the movie “Idiocracy,” where overconfidence in spite of intelligence often times gets in the way of personal growth. But understanding you’re little setbacks and not going all nuts over the situation is also a good sign of personal growth. I will admit, after doing Ragnar Del Sol, I was on a real high. Despite all of the worry I had during the race in regards to breaking down, I never once faltered. I wanted to get myself running once again and start training for the next race, which I was hoping to be a half marathon in a couple weeks (but money has prohibited me from such a venture). Now I have five potential Ragnars on the slate for the next calendar year, and I am definitely excited about such an adventure. But here was the main problem: I fell behind on my running!
Now this wasn’t intentional, but I didn’t run a single mile for nearly eight days! After burning out 19 miles in the span of 33 hours at a pace that exceeded my expectations, I opted to give myself a couple days off. Tuesday of that week was looking like a good starter point, but I ended up taking too long helping my parents out with a project, so the excuses started flying. I went back-to-back days on the workouts, so I skipped out on the running on Thursday and Friday. Jon and Christa didn’t run on Saturday morning, so I skipped out in hopes of cleaning up my back yard. Of course, the backyard turned out to be something much bigger than I ever expected. First of all, I hate yard work, so my yard looked more like a waist high forest of clover and weeds than an actual yard. So yes, I was that guy in my neighborhood, the one who makes everyone look good (though the funny side effect of being that guy, once I do my yard, everyone suddenly starts cleaning their yard the week after). I got to tell you, it was a full on workout. First of all, I had to clear cut my way through the tall weeds just to get them down to a more manageable height, and then cut the rest down with the lawnmower. It wasn’t easy with the lawnmower either, for I quickly learned my yard is quite infested with rabbits and prairie dogs and the mounds they left from their underground burrows are not easy to traverse over. My feet were on constant alert, for the unevenness made it tough to walk and I really had to push the mower, putting a lot of stress on my shoulders and even getting some calluses on my hands! Squibs of dirt were constantly being kicked up, and when I took a shower that night, tons of mini-rock shards fell out. I thought I would get the yard done in a few hours, but the project turned into a six-hour ordeal that left me tired and dehydrated. So even though I wrote in my blog post for Sunday that I would run, I didn’t.
Sunday, I had to make a really concerted effort. I pretty much forced myself to get in the car and drive to Reid Park, which for me would be the end of the conversation and I would be forced to do the run, merely to the effect that I wasted all that gas, so I might as well do it. I’ll admit, I was pretty fired up when I started, flying along at a sub 9-minute pace that witnessed me feeling pretty darn good for the first miles and a half. And then reality set in. My body just started hurting, namely my knees and my Achilles. I had to call it a day after three miles. On one hand, I was happy with my effort in regards to the speed-which topped out at 9.19-per mile-but I was kind of bummed out over the distance. Just two weeks before, I was gunning out multiple seven-mile runs in a week. It happened again on Tuesday night when I sought to run for at least six miles, but once again, my body was just telling me to cut it short that night. I’ll admit, I was happy once again with the great time (a 9.09 average per mile) but the distance sort of bothered me. In the span of a couple days, I had done my second and third fastest runs over that distance, yet I was a little disappointed. Talk about being a perfectionist.
Wednesday proved once again how much better I can possibly be. For the first time ever, over the span of three plus miles, I averaged under nine minutes per mile. This wasn't a moment where I burned out a really good mile or maybe had some blip in my RunKeeper, this was an honest to god moment of awesomeness. My application typically gives me updates every five minutes on my progress, and a good five minute turn is when I do at least .52 miles in the span of that five minutes. Let’s just say the slowest turn I had was at .57 miles during my 3.5 mile run. So yeah, I was flying. But how can this help me in regards to my running time? Turns out I’m not to far off in regards to achieving my goal of averaging a sub nine-minute mile by the end of the year, especially considering the recent runs I have been putting together. But you see, I want to ultimately make that my average for say a half marathon someday, so what I am doing now is kind of a good idea in regards to increasing my speed. http://www.livestrong.com/article/365892-how-to-run-faster-for-a-long-distance/
Whenever you read about increasing your speed, interval training is always the first thing people talk about. Blah, blah blah run hard for 50 meters blah blah blah track your speed over certain distances and an extra dose of hooey. Truthfully, it gets boring after a while. But the good thing about the LiveStrong website (don’t worry, the Lance Armstrong approved idea of “doping” is no longer available, hehe) is it gives some more tangible running advice that can be better applied over longer distances, not just the usual interval training rig-a-mar-roll. Let’s face it, running on a track is not really an accessible item for everyone, especially in Tucson since every high school is turning into some form of publicly funded prison with all of the closed off areas and school guards. Fortunately, Tucson is quite running path friendly, so I have managed to utilize some of the good advice in the aforementioned blog post.
Obviously, the first item is always to build up some endurance. For me, this is really no problem at all, but merely a formality at this point. Once I get my legs back under me, I will be ripping out the 7-mile runs in no time and then pulling out some 8-milers soon enough. But the one good thing I am doing right now is keeping my distances short but increasing them each time I go out. My first run was barely over three miles, then my next was 3.28 and then yesterday it was 3.50. I probably could have kept on going yesterday, but since I running without my camel pack, I didn’t want to dry myself out too much in the interim. Plus there was the other thing in the back of my head….this week is just being used to get my legs back. It is kind of working already, for my right achilles didn’t give me any problems and my knees felt pretty good in spite of setting a near personal best the night before. And this was after a rather tough workout, one where I had to add extra exercises because I was doing the first round of exercises too easily. If anything, I am already outgrowing the 55-pound dumbbells that Jon recently got. Pretty soon, he may have to start get some bigger weights just for me. And then of course, the green kettle bells he has are also becoming too easy (they weigh a mere 53 pounds). For crying out loud, I may be forced to get a gym membership if this keeps up!
While there is a lot of good advice out there in regards to increasing one’s running speed, one thing I have noticed is simply going for it. Since Ragnar, I suddenly have a much better concept of what I can actually do out on the running track. Before I cranked out the 6.53-mile run at a 9.17 per mile average, I never even knew I was capable of maintaining that pace. In truth, my time might have been better if I hadn’t stopped to try and fix my sock (it had slipped in my shoe and the shoe was tearing up the back of my ankle) and actually trained a little in the heat even though Phoenix is a little hotter than Tucson. But it is pretty clear this summer is going to be an interesting time for me, for the heat and humidity index is certainly going to rise and I will really get to work on my endurance. I guess this is why I am putting so much credence into what I am doing now, for I know I’m going to have to worry more about my heart rate than my running time once we start seeing 90-degree nights. Right now, I’m just going to keep going for it. Sometime next week I will attempt a longer run and it will be ridiculously hard. I guess you can say I am kind of ruining myself by running faster than usual. But here is the other thing most of the articles I came across never mentioned. You are never going to get better at running if you never try. Personally, I am not content with the times I have been earning this past week. I like this new level of success I have suddenly reached, and it makes the impossible dream of next year seem even brighter. Yeah, next year is still a good nine months away, and who knows when I will be financially even, but for the first time in a long time I will actually be making future plans, even if my car breaks (which is bound to happen) or some bad injury occurs (let’s hope that doesn’t happen!). Even though I want to get stronger and healthier, I guess you can say I am something of a runner now.
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