GOING THE DISTANCE
May 10, 2011
I've always hated running.
I started this year off by committing to run a mile every day, a plan that lasted about 3 weeks. It wasn't because of laziness or inability to commit. It's because I hated it. Every second of it. From the moment I tied my shoelaces to the final gasping breaths as I dragged myself back into my house, the entire experience was horrible. For each morning I would run, I would feel like I had less energy that day, and the thought of doing it again the next morning was de-motivating.
My asthmatic wife, on the other hand, took up the same challenge, and after several weeks, had increased her distance from a single mile to upwards of 3 and 4 miles. And stranger yet: she LOVED it. Running made her feel better, which further encouraged her to run more. Today, she can run 5 miles at a 9-minute-per-mile average.
Tonight, I made an important discovery. I decided run again (after a little prodding by my wife), and instead of going at the pace I typically attempted in the past, I decided to back down my speed to see how that would impact my distance. This made a world of difference.
Typically, I would run until I couldn't do it anymore - I'd get to the point where my lungs were burning, and my heartbeat could be felt in my ears and eyes, and my body was on the verge of shutting down. You know... that point where if you take another step, you're just going to puke. By slowing down my pace, I was actually able to mentally monitor my heart-rate, and discovered for the first time the correlation between heart-rate and my body's freak-out threshold. By keeping my heart-rate down, I was able to keep running.
I ran for 2.4 miles - the longest I've ever run. And in fact, I probably could have kept going, but because I'm just now getting over a cold, I figured I shouldn't overdo it. I'm pretty sure, however, that hitting mile #3 in the next few days isn't out of the question. It's all about keeping a reasonable pace. And over time, I should be able to increase my pace as my body builds up more stamina for running.