I’ve been running now for about three years. I mean running for running’s sake. Running to improve my fitness. Running to improve my lung capacity and breathing. And running to burn calories. But here’s the thing about running for running’s sake. It’s like being on a deserted island by yourself and your own thoughts. I find it hard because I need to find a way to focus on propelling myself forward without letting the boredom of running get to me. I like running fast, as fast as I can, but I can only go so fast for so long. Then it’s back to just running.
To get over the challenges of running I used to count in my head. One, two, three, and so on until I reached my maximum my body or my head could take me. And every time I went running, whether it was the next session or the next spurt of energy and drive, I would always stop at the same count. Like all head games go, I had effectively conditioned myself to stop running at the count of sixteen. Sometimes I’d be able to make it a bit higher. But my head always stopped me; I think. It’s really hard to tell sometimes.
There were a number of reasons why I could never make it past that magic number. I’d run out of breath. My quads or hamstrings would get sore because I hadn’t been stretching them. The tibialis anterior, the muscle on the shins would start to hurt. Or worse my calves and feet would lose their bounciness. All these signals would bombard my brain. And after a while I would stop. Plus on top of all that, the first year I developed a bunion on my left foot that made it all that much more challenging.
The amazing thing about training as a serious enthusiast is that you learn to listen to your body. How it responds to the foods you eat. And the mechanics of the body parts and how they work together to perform. But it’s also a challenge when you have so many muscle and you need to figure out which one isn’t firing correctly and why. For example, sometimes I try to go running and its like the bounciness isn’t there. I think it’s either my feet or my calves that are the culprit, but neither is sore.
So what I eventually realized is that I was losing my form. Things would start out great, but about the sixteen mark things would deteriorate. When I took dance classes, one of my main problems is that I would often start great, but if I didn’t focus my teacher told me that I would start to slouch. So my guess is that’s the same issue that’s occurring here. I start to slouch, and suddenly the weight of my body would shift forward and shifting the workload to other muscles.
When lifting weights, it’s a good idea to keep the core solid so you don’t injure yourself. Same with dancing so you can have better form and keep control of your body. The core is one of the few muscle groups that you should constantly keep engaged. It makes sure that your upper body is in line with your lower body. But I find it really difficult to constantly have to remind myself to keep the core engaged.
But here’s what suddenly happened in July. I went on my usual runs. But this time all the signals that my body had been sending to my brain in previous runs were no longer there. It was all quiet. It felt the same way it does when walking, not really having to worry about the effort of walking. It was a really odd feeling. Like one of those horror movie where you all the noise from around you are suddenly quiet. But this felt like I’d reached a milestone. I confirmed this with some people online who say that they’ve had the same experience.
So that was that. I’ve gone running a few times since and been able to focus on improving specific parts without worrying about all the onslaught of information. I still have a long way to go, but that is definitely is a major step forward. And less to worry about.
Yesterday, I went running in the cold for the first time. I have found a good pair of Hoka waterproof trailing running shoes (Men’s Speedgoat Mid Gore-Tex 2) that I posted on the Facebook page. They provide a lot of traction and work amazingly well. I also have a pair of Solomon winter trail running shoes with studs (Salomon Snowspike Waterproof Trail Running Shoes) that I have yet to try.