“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”
So, I’m slow. I make no secret about that fact. I have always been known for being slow at everything my entire life. My nickname in elementary school was Slow Jo. One time I tried to hurry up in the line to lunch because all the kids behind me were complaining about how slow I walked; I fell into the splits in the hallway. It was then I decided hurrying was just not for me. I failed at production work & at waitressing for that very reason. The sloth is one of my favorite animals because we have a similar attitude on the issue.
What I don’t generally talk about is my time when running. I track it. I have a spreadsheet that tracks my miles, times, & average speed. I don’t worry too much about how fast I go, but I like to see my speed creeping up there. I’ve been working on speed a little the last couple of weeks, but I’ll talk about that later. Right now I figure I will out myself about just how slow I go, because it has come up lately. I have been averaging about 18.5min/mile, but last night I dropped that to just under 18mins, 17:57. There I said it. It currently takes me almost twice as long to run a mile as probably most of the people who consider themselves “runners”. To a lot of people I would not be considered a real runner, I would be a jogger. I do not accept this.
I am a runner.
And a pox on anyone who doesn’t like it.
In my experience most people in the running community don’t make a fuss about how fast you go, especially for beginners, & I feel like the perpetual beginner, but I’ve run into a few people who want to make that distinction between being a real runner & being a jogger. To them I say, what is the difference between running & jogging? Speed. Jogging is slow running, so vis-à-vis even though I am slow I am running. Running makes me a runner. I go as fast as I am currently able to sustain for the distance I need to go. At this time my primary goal is to build up my distance, so speed is not a big concern. The more I run, naturally the faster I get. I don’t think I’ll ever be fast, but someday I might make it to the speed of the average human. At least I can pass the walkers in the park. Sure they might be sixty, but you have to take your victories where you can get them. Not to mention I’m short, fat, & I’m running on bad knees & cheap shoes. (For those who don’t know, I was in a car wreck in high school where I was not wearing my seat belt & was thrown forward. I smashed the windshield with my head & the dashboard with my knees. My head was fine, but my knees were left with compressed cartilage & bone chips. Over the 22yrs since then, I have developed nerve damage in one knee & I just found out this year I have the beginnings of arthritis in them. Fun stuff.)
I bring this up, because I was talking to a friend, who btw does not run at all, & his reply was, “oh, so you’re just jogging.” Another friend of mine has recently taken up the sport, & he says he’s “just jogging.” Given that he’s about foot taller than me & in much better shape, I’m sure he’s faster than me. They can call it whatever they want, but I staunchly defend my right to call myself a runner.
Now that that’s out-of-the-way, here is what has been going on with me in running & a bit in life.
Since I met my 5K distance goal a couple of weeks early, I have been doing a little speed work the last couple of weeks. Nothing serious, just running my 3mi & adding in 1min intervals where I go a little faster & focus on my turn-over rate & picking my knees up. I find just those 1min intervals of actually focusing on what my legs are doing gets my pace up for the rest of my run. At the end I try to hold my faster pace out for what would be the final interval. Last night I pushed myself that last minute or two, & fairly well sprinted. I was honestly surprised at how fast I went. I want to go to the track & try some of the actual speed work I read about & see how fast I could go for those short distances. I’m considering adding in a 4th run day each week just to do some short speed work, but I worry about doing two days in a row & how it would impact my knees. I would definitely have to be alone when I did it, because I realized that while I am comfortable for people to see me moving at my usual pace, the idea of them seeing my chugging speed makes me uncomfortable. I am certain I look spastic doing it & even more like I’m going to have a heart attack than usual.
Last week I was fighting sinuses, but I got my run in on Tuesday with speed intervals. Then I got a last-minute house/pet sitting gig out-of-town. I left early Thursday & it was a 2.5hr drive, so I didn’t run that day. However the next day I went to a nearby state park to attempt my first trail run. I had a 3.5mi loop planned out & since they were old buggy trails I thought it would be fairly easy. Wrong. It was over a 1mi trek just to get to the trails & I did some site seeing before hand so that added more walking including a lot of steps. Then the trails were much hillier, rockier, & rutted than I had expected, not to mention muddy because it had rained the two days prior. It was Alabama red clay mud, which if you don’t know it is like some otherworldly beast bent on destroying every pair of shoes or article of clothing it comes in contact with. I also added in a 1mi detour to visit the spot where the three counties the park lays in touch. It was not a buggy trail, it was a crazy little wilderness path upwards over tree roots & rocks, & at times alongside a ravine. Needless to say I didn’t run much of it.
I ended up walking most of the trails, but I did hit my stride on a long relatively smooth stretch & it felt really good. The worst part was I forgot to stretch afterward & was sore for days. I tried to run again, just in the neighborhood I was staying in, Sunday but the family was coming back that afternoon & the guy came to mow that lawn that morning so the only time I had to go was noon. Running in Alabama at noon in the summer? Yeah, that didn’t last long. It did last long enough to help loosen up my sore muscles though.
You probably already know I don’t do well with schedule disruptions, & since I was in the city I spent a lot of time running around doing things & going places I don’t get to do in this little rural town. I pretty much spent my first two days back home in bed recuperating from my adventure. My spoons were depleted. I am a very low energy person, & I always thought regular exercise would help that but alas it hasn’t done much. My psych just raised my lamotrigine to 300mg, so I’m hoping that might help. I find social situations to be particularly draining, & like I said I spent a lot of time out & about including dinner with a friend & his partner. Also, I was watching Fringe dvds, because I’m catching up for the final season. I didn’t run again until Wednesday. (Which when I’m writing this was last night, just to clarify since I have referred to it as such earlier in this post & am going to schedule this post for the morning so it won’t be last night when you read this.)
It was great. I dropped my average to under 18mins & finished with a boost of power speed. It felt really good to finally get back out there & left me looking forward to running again tomorrow/today. I did 3min/1min speed intervals last night, Friday I will do 2min/1min, & Sunday I’ll be down to 1min/1min. Next week I’m going to cut back to just a mile & try to speed that up, then I’ll push onward in my mileage. I figure at this point two weeks per mile is more than adequate for me to get comfortable with each new distance before moving on. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to replace my shoes with the Saucony Omni Progrid 10. I loved the 9, but wore those out. Right now I have some Air Sports from Shoe Show I got on sale for $25. They do a surprisingly good job for cheap shoes, but I am also using my stability insoles with them.
Next week I’m switching my days to TTS, because I’m going to give the 100 push-ups challenge another go (third times the charm) & see if I can finally get past week 3. I’m such a quitter! I’m kind of scared because both times I haven’t just quit the challenge I stopped doing everything, including running. It seems like whenever I try to up the ante on my exercise routine I have a mental breakdown & quit everything. No idea why. Don’t ask me why I need to move my running days so I can do the challenge on MWF. That just feels like the day I need to do that. Plus it means a better transition from this week since I got my running started late.
My interview about the research program that I’m taking part of as part of the program to help me get back in to the workforce was yesterday as well. It went well, & I should hear tomorrow which of the research groups I have been assigned to & who my job counselor will be. I am very excited. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do, just part-time for now, but have been very apprehensive about as far as the actual job hunt goes, so having a counselor to smooth things along means a lot. The research program is testing different approaches to how various levels of employment support & benefit offsets for earned income affect people’s outcomes at returning to work.
So that’s where I’m at, where I’ve been, & where I’m going. How is everyone else doing?