I am so pleased to introduce to you our third guest blogger! You guys remember yoga Kerri? Well Vinny is yoga Kerri’s husband. We usually see him around the store about once a week or so, and he’s a pleasure to have around. They win the favorite couple award! Anyhoo, enough intros – here’s Vinny!
“I consider myself a runner. Since the Nike Pegasus made its debut in the 80’s, I’ve been logging miles three to five times a week. I am currently training for a marathon and my runs are getting longer. I’ve been thinking about long runs and I have a theory that I’d like to share. The key to enjoying long runs is extending the portion of the run that you feel the best, for me this is the middle.
The middle is the sweet spot during your run where you feel the best. Your breathing is settled, calm and smooth. You feel nothing in your feet and legs. Your mind slips comfortably from thought to thought, conscious of the world around you while working in the background on a subject that you enjoy. I tend to plan meals, deconstructing fine dining and working on recipes. Other runners I’ve spoken to work on complex math problems, plan yoga classes, or map their next vacation. The bottom line is if you can extend this portion of your long run you will be able to add distance and have a better time doing it. So I am always looking for ways to extend the middle. One way to extend the middle is to shorten the beginning.
For me, the beginning is the hardest part of any long run. This is the two to three miles at the outset that test my dedication and resolve. During these first miles I’m reintroduced to all my past pains and injuries. Like a roll call of old enemies, Tendinitis, Fasciitis, and I.T. Band syndrome stand to be recognized. Things hurt, breathing is labored and I’m wondering why I’m doing this. I’ve learned that a proper warm up can help. Double tying your running shoes or stomping around waiting for your Garmin to locate satellites does not constitute a warm up. A local running coach suggested I try Dynamic Stretching. I’ll save you the Google search. Dynamic Stretching is the series of exercises you’ve seen fast guys doing before a competitive 5 or 10K. With names like ankle pops, high knees, but kicks and glute walk they are probably best left to the shirtless front of the pack guys. I’ve been doing some basic squats and lunges to warm up the big muscles and it helps. I can get into the middle sooner and feel fresher during the run.
At the other end of the middle there’s a point in your long runs when your body starts telling you it’s had enough. Hopefully you are close to your goal distance when you reach this point, but I often find myself a couple miles short when I get into the end of the run. During the last few miles the repetitive pounding takes its toll on my legs and hips. The result is an ache that is punctuated with every step. There isn’t much you can do physically to get through the end of your run. I try to save a few ounces of water and an emergency gel in case I really hit the wall, but for me the end is a mental exercise. To extend the middle I try to delay the start of the end. I use all the usual tricks, crank up the power songs and break the last few miles into smaller segments. I promise to stop at the next quarter mile mark and repeatedly break the promise. When I’m really hurting I go deep, remembering why I run and how lucky I am. In the last few hundred yards I try to visualize the finish of my next race and the feeling of satisfaction that comes with reaching a goal. I guess the very end of the end is actually pretty good.”
Dang! Couldn’t have said it better myself. Snaps for Vinny! Do your next long run, and tell me this mantra doesn’t run through your head!