It’s no secret I’m an Altra Running girl. The overflowing basket by my door is filled with Lone Peaks and Torins of many generations. I have my running shoes, then they get down graded to my wear around campus shoes, then they get downgraded to yard work shoes with their final destination when they are well past worn to the recycle bin at the local running store.
Recently I acquired a pair of Escalante. I’ve been doing more running on pavement lately and I wanted to try something beyond the Torin. (Hey in my defense don’t ever knock a shoe that you love.) From the moment I put them on my feet I was in love. The dreamy feel of the knit made me feel like I was walking on a cloud. I’m going to have to buy another pair of these just for dashing across campus.
Then I actually ran in them. My GPS watch tells me my per minute foot strike. The running clinics I have participated in and many articles all say that same thing, as a runner you should aim for 180 as your number. In my Torins even when doing “speed work” (I’m slow so speed is relative) my average number is around 162 plus or minus 5. My first run in the Escalante doing the same speed work? 179. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.
I took them out for a spin a couple of days last week and they were ever so dreamy. My first run I was only going to do 2 miles and I wound up doing 3, including one down the shoulder of a 4 lane highway because I didn’t want to turn around at the 1 mile mark. Then I took them out on the streets of Annapolis. If you’ve never been there many of the streets and sidewalks are “paved” with brick. Brick is awful to run on. I finished a 4.5 mile run over mainly brick streets and felt great.
Overall, I’m highly impressed with this shoe. I’d better go order another pair for school. I don’t want to ever take these off my feet. Now, if we could just fix my lungs….
“Honey you really tempt me, You know the way you look so kind, I’d love to stick around, but I’m running behind. You know I don’t even know what I’m hoping to find. Running into the sun but I’m running behind.”-Jackson Browne
To quote the dear Jackson Browne, I’m running on empty. School has been kicking my ass this semester. It’s not just the five, yes five, classes I’m taking, but it’s the group projects and individual homework load. There are a couple of classes I’m struggling with (one of which is BioStats, surprise surprise), but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one struggling. My classmates and I are all in the same stress filled boat (as sick as that sounds). How does this relate to my running?
There is a limit to the amount of stress your body can handle. Once you’ve hit your limit you can’t handle any more. You’re done. It doesn’t matter the kind of stress that it is; your body doesn’t recognize that running stress is different than 4 hours of Biostat homework stress. It just recognizes it as stress and because my system already is duct taped together (thanks asthma) I have to be even more careful as it doesn’t take much to take the whole system offline and no one has time for that kind of bullshit right now. What this translates to is a change the direction and focus of my workouts.
For now, anyway, I’ve had to temporarily suspend any dreams of increasing my per mile pace or even training for another 50k. Why? Again, only so much stress to go around and since work is paying for me to go back to school (and I have to keep a B or better) my focus absolutely has to be on school. School stress>running stress.
This does’t mean that I’m not running. It also doesn’t mean that I’m not ‘racing’. Although, to be fair, with my slow times I’m never racing; the only person I’m trying to beat is myself. It just means that I need to be mindful in my workouts. It means I run for the joy and not for the X number of miles or the X pace. It means that since I’m already running on fumes I need to experience the joy of working out. It means that if I want to go to yoga instead of running, that’s ok. It means if I want to go climbing instead of running, that’s ok. It means that if I need to sit at the dining room table for 6 hours and work on a paper instead of working out at all that’s really ok!
It’s hard because I like to push myself. I like to improve over my old time. I like to see and feel those tangible results. However, I also realize school>running and breathing>not breathing. I’m working on embracing this shift. It’s a work in progress.
It’s been two months to the day since I’ve done a double digit run. I’ve been trying to be super careful coming back in an attempt to, I don’t know, NOT break me again. With the Asheville Half Marathon coming up I needed to start ramping up my mileage to ensure that I was going to be able to crush last year. Ok, ok, crush may be a bit too harsh of a word. Let’s try: I want to do better than I did last year.
Em is back and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. I love running with her. Not saying I don’t love running with all of my friends, but Em is my favorite (shhh, don’t tell anyone else). When she asked if I wanted to go for a run I unequivocally said HELL YES! I told her I needed to do 10 miles, but I wanted to go “my slow”. Her slow and my slow are very different creatures.
We decided to do an out and back on the C&O Canal, but we parked further up river from Georgetown. Fewer people and less hassle. Today was one of those golden days of running. Not too hot, not too cold. My lungs were super happy. Honestly, the miles flew by. Even with a couple of stops along the way, one for a SUPER cute 9 week old puppy, we still managed to finish sub-2:00.
Today’s run was exactly what I wanted it to be. Joyful. We gossiped, we laughed, we spoke of all sorts of winding topics, but at the end of it all I felt was happy. That, my friends, is a good thing.