When to Run Again.
I feel like the title of this post should have a question mark. I don’t know the answer. I know I have to start running again soon because I’m running a half marathon on the 22nd of November, and if I rest from now to then I’m in trouble. On the other hand, running a marathon, and running five miles further than I’d ever run before, took a lot out of me. During training, we built up to the long miles slowly, so I did two 18s and a 19 miler before I did the 21. Then I tapered for three weeks, and did 26.2. I spent four months making 475 miles of deposits in the running bank to be able to make a 26.2 mile withdrawal last Sunday.
The good news is that the account isn’t empty. I’ve maintained the fitness. Really, the metaphor at this point is more like, the bank teller is looking at me and saying, “Dude, no. No more. I’m giving you nothing,” even though I have plenty of capital. And that’s a good thing. I’m not sore anymore. By Thursday I felt pretty good. But I can tell that my body is still healing. I’ve been sleeping hard and still finding myself tired. I’m hungry (but I’ve updated my eating habits.).
So I haven’t run. but I have returned to fitness. I went to the gym and did a moderately-tough but not-too-long workout on Wednesday. Then yesterday I did a good hard 12.5 mile bike ride, and actually set a personal-best for 20km, in about 52 minutes. I bought a TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio fitness watch, and I love it. For my money, it’s a lot better than the Garmin Forerunner 225 that I hated and returned, in no small part because the website interface is much better and it links directly to Runkeeper and Endomondo. It’s also cheaper and I got it for 20% off at the Marine Marathon Health and Fitness Expo.
I find the watch, which lets me monitor my heart rate in real time, inspired me to perform better. If I feel like I’m working hard, and look down and see a heart rate of 117, I know that it’s my mind playing tricks on me. And I feel really good after 15 minutes keeping my pulse jacked at 150. That helps me see if I’m actually pushing up against my fitness threshold, or if I’m just tired or loafing*.
So I might go for a short run today between when I get off work and when BB arrives for the weekend. Or I might not. We’ll do 6-8 miles this weekend for sure. I’m looking forward to running again. And that was a big part of the training goal: do it right so that when the marathon was over we weren’t totally burned out and hating it. Keep up the cross training. Plan another race for afterwards to keep the motivation up. Don’t swoon.
Races are great. But fitness isn’t about performance on race-day for me. I mean, yes, of course it is some, but not primarily. Primarily, fitness is about not getting diabetes, about being able to do the things with my partner that we want to do in life. About having energy and motivation. About feeling good. About looking good. And about being the kind of person who achieves goals. I want to be someone who has a reason to be proud of himself. Who earns self-esteem instead of pretending and boasting.
Spending so much of my life sick and indolent has made me really appreciate what it’s like to be in decent condition. Seeing my father suffer so much for his inability to manage his diabetes has terrified me into action. There’s no point in denial about it. I have the same predisposition that, for him, ended with terrible complications and has now put him in a wheelchair for more than a decade. I will do what I have to to minimize that risk for myself.
So when to run again? Soon. I did it. I accomplished something I never thought I could or would. Something I couldn’t even imagine wanting to only a few years ago, even in sobriety. But there’s no resting. Entropy looms. On to the next thing. Time to go run.
*Not every run or workout should push against your fitness threshold. Easy days are crucial for recovery… they allow you to go further and faster when it’s time to push again than just trying to max out every workout. Going for a jog regularly makes going for a run a lot better.