May 16, 2014 by scratchtype1
The sum of my life is nothing heroic and so was today’s run of 5 kilometers or 3.1 miles in some rain and wind. There’s nothing difficult about running in a moderate rain when it’s 65 degrees and it’s rather pleasant some, although I’d bet most of the cars that drove by figure I must be a bit crazy. They’re probably right about that, but not for the reason they might think.
I’ve been rather pleased by the effect of being conscientious about keeping the heart rate down on the easy runs. It also looks like I might already be seeing some improvement in pace on them. It’s a bit vexing when I have to use the granny-shuffle stride on some uphills, but I’ve accepted that it’s a necessary part of what I want to see — more miles and time done at truly easy pace and thereby reap benefits with better base cardiovascular fitness. So I obey the heart rate monitor on this, as long as it’s giving me accurate info. For some unknown reason, there’s a section of a route I often run where the monitor spazzes out and I suspect there must be some sort of electrical signal interference going on somehow, I certainly don’t feel the heart rate spiking up over 170 while the numbers go crazy.
I’d be a little bit happier if I knew that I could get true and clean comparisons between all runs done with the heart rate monitor.
Today was also the 35th straight day of running. Probably another important factor in getting me to use the HRM to monitor effort. I’ve run 165 miles in these 35 days and hadn’t been suffering any twinges or aches beforehand, but now by slowing down the runs some, I notice that there is less tiredness to the legs and a sense almost that maybe there had been some very faint aches or twinges just below the conscious level. Now those are gone.
All part of this human experience called the learning process. That’s one of the mantras that shows up often in my thoughts while I run. I’m learning. I’m running, but I’m still learning how to and about it. The neuromuscular coordination of my legs is still learning with every stride that’s made and oftentimes I try to be aware of how the feet land, how the legs feel, how the hips feel, and especially try to feel the sensation of the glutes as the drivers of it all. The glutes are supremely important to the human running gait and probably many of us don’t know how much they ought to do.
I believe I’ve learned a fair bit since last year. If you had talked to me some years ago, I would have told you how I needed lots of rest days. Yet here I am now with a running streak of 35 days thanks to easier running and learning how the feet serve as sensors some to the world and to the legs. So I was wrong about a need for rest days and there’s nothing wrong in admitting being wrong. Is there anything more essential to learning and development than being able to do that? If you can’t do that, you will get trapped into what you might think is impossible, whether that impossible thing is about something you feel you can’t do or if that impossible thing is a character flaw that you can’t admit to yourself and thereby repeatedly have it manifest in your life and its events and never taking responsibility for it.
As an interesting facet to the easy running and rest days idea is that back in 2010 when I prepared for the last half-marathon that I raced is that I did so using a heart rate monitor and keeping things easy. I’d run Tu-Th-Sat-Sun and run them easy. Yet I felt tired, fatigued and listless by September. Why was that? Was it because I wasn’t running enough, that I should have run daily or nearly so? Was it because I ran in shoes and was probably heel-striking? Was it the broken heart of that time? Was it a resurgence of the mono virus in my system? I have no certain answers to those questions and never will.
And perhaps even now while I think I understand myself and my running legs better, maybe I am wrong now. Maybe this running streak will prove disastrous somehow. Perhaps some body part will break down because of it. Perhaps some time in the future, I will find myself listless and fatigued from it and unable to recover quickly.
Ultimately, the point is about how so often our hypotheses and theoretical models of ourselves and the world around us are tenuous. Some are less tenuous than others — they rely better on easily collected facts and harder data. I tend to think models of our own selves are more tenuous, because of ego, because of the distorted mirrors that we look at ourselves in, because of the slippery and squishy qualities of human personality. For this reason, I tend to think we ought to be more critical of our own selves and more forgiving about what we think of others. The human personality and the relationships between human beings are messy things indeed.