Anybody who talks to me for a reasonable amount of time will be able to figure out that I'm a runner, or that I like running. It's a pretty big part of who I am.
After a long career as a high school track athlete with both The York School and the University of Toronto's junior development program I came away with an injury or two. I was a high jumper, you see, so I was putting myself (and mostly my ankles) through a lot of sudden impulse on a very regular basis to reach a good competitive height. The injuries put me in physiotherapy which ended up being a pretty good deal because in my very first session, around 11th grade, my physiotherapist looked at me and said "hey, jog down the hall for me, will you?"
I did it, and then jogged back, and he said "you should really be a runner."
Apparently I had the form for it. Now I never liked running that much, but I had done some cross country and had placed reasonably well, always top third. I just never trained hard. So that summer I did, just to see what happened. I still didn't win any competitive races in the fall of 12th grade, but by then I'd caught the bug. That year I ran my first half marathon.
It wasn't a good half marathon. It was really a proof of concept more than anything. I finished in 1:53:02. That's about 5:22 per kilometer (some amount of time per mile) and a respectable jog. I've since worked at it. Now 22 kilometers is my comfortable distance and running any less than 8k makes me feel like I didn't even leave the house. Now really for anyone running 8k or less has an almost negligible caloric impact, but for short distance runners or as cross training it's good to do. It's healthy and in many fitness regimes the running element is 40% cardio health and 60% mental fortitude training.
See, the thing about running is that any reasonably healthy adult can do 10 kilometers (6 miles) without any lead-up.
As somebody who doesn't run you may read that and think I'm crazy. Remember now that I run long distances for fun and then feel free to call me crazy again. But in any case if you're reading that and thinking I'm wrong then I would venture that you haven't run 10 kilometers recently. Running is 90% mental drive. As the distance goes up the athletic skill and form required also take a greater share of the exercise but for most distances the majority of what you need to succeed is mindset. If you're going farther than 16 kilometers you probably want to start thinking about taking food with you and that'll have a big impact on your success too, but more than anything, running is about thinking to yourself "I just need to get to that next streetlight" or "that next lamp post" or "just one more kilometer" and once you reach that milestone, saying "that wasn't so bad, I'll go to the next one."
Then without realizing it you've run 11 kilometers accidentally when you were aiming for 10.
That sort of thinking was what I used in my most recent half marathon but rather than thinking of streetlights and lamp posts I rather was thinking "just pass this next person." And after seeding myself in the 1:40:00 corral, which at the time of signup I thought was a little ambitious, I finished in 1:35:40. The reason I was able to do that was that I had started doing speed work a few weeks before the race and unintentionally really helped my pace. But it felt pretty awesome to set a new personal best like that.
The next milestone for me is a full marathon. I've never done one before and it's a completely different beast. I can run a half marathon with minimal water and no snacks after a full day of standing at work, but any extra distance and I'm toast. Yesterday I ran a 30.85 kilometer training run in just under 3 hours and I was done for the day. I carried 500mL of water with me and had to refill the bottles twice. I had to have four gels (which is basically like eating a mixture of sugar and syrup) to keep me going to the end. Now, it didn't help that it was 27 degrees, 99% humidity, and was spitting or pouring rain for stretches of the run. But in any case, training additional distance will be tough.
At this point though I'm at an interesting state in the training process. Form is good. Cardio is good. Muscular and endurance are building over time. And again it's all a question of 90% mentality, 10% everything else.
If you have any comments or questions about the above or anything else click here and I'd be happy to chat.
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