Sunday, October 24, 2004

Some Not-Terribly-Profound Thoughts on Running

1. I've been experiencing something weird lately; for the first time in a long, long time, I think I'm hitting the limits of what i can accomplish running. For the past few years, since I've gotten back into running big-time, it's always been the case that if I decided to kick up the pace or add a little bit of distance, all I needed to do was will myself into it. I got pretty used to that; and it made a pretty handy training tool. All it took to get better was willpower, and that's a pretty nice situation to be in.

But for the past few runs, I seem to have hit the point where my distance and speed graphs converge. Running more than seven miles isn't too hard if I take it slow. And running at a six-and-a-half-minute-mile pace is no big deal i I'm doing 6 miles.

But combine the two, and I hit a fucking wall like I haven't since high school cross country. It's pretty weird. Just after the sixth mile, I start to feel weirdly weak, and even feel a little weird in the chest (not chest pains or anything like that; just this feeling that there's not enough oxygen in the world to keep me going). The idea takes hold pretty firmly that I just can't keep this up; and if my iPod tries to spur me on by pulling Van Halen's “Dreams” up at this point (as has happened a couple of times), I'll speed it up for maybe thirty seconds, and then get so light-headed that I have to cut it back to even slower than I was before.

I'm still pretty confident that I can get better- I don't know if I've got the feet for a marathon, but I refuse to believe that I'm not capable of running a half-marathon if I don't go balls-out on the speed, but I think I'm at the point now where I'm going to have to work harder for it.

And maybe that's ok.

2. And about the iPod and running: I'm sure I'm not the first person to love the combination. But long runs with my iPod have taught me a couple of harsh lessons. First, the butt rock that I like to listen to while running is getting vastly overrepresented in my most-played stats... if someone just looked at my iTunes logs, they'd think I was a much bigger Nazareth fan than I really am. And second, when I switch it over to just shuffling through all songs, I see just how much Johnny Cash I have. It's like one in four songs. And I love the Cash, but that seems a bit much.

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