I’m still not sure what to make of Friday’s “long run.” Did I push too hard and run out of gas? Or was it a good workout, with some faster intervals in the middle and a cool down the last couple of miles?
I’d wanted to work on a 9.5 mile chunk of the Parlor City Trot Half Marathon course. This was supposed to be my LSD (long slow distance) run for the week, so I didn’t bring a watch. The idea was to just let the miles unfold as I took in Ouabache State Park on a glorious “welcome to summer” day. But I guess I got caught up in the energy percolating through the park with campers arriving for Memorial Day weekend and went out too fast. The last 2 ½ miles were a struggle, and I even walked a couple of times.
I felt like a failure for giving in to the impulse to walk. But another part of me was in full rationalization mode, noting that 9.5 miles isn’t really a long run anyway and it made more sense to push the pace as I work on “owning” certain segments of the course. That made this last section more of a cool down. Of course, since I hadn’t brought a watch, I couldn’t really say for sure how fast I was running. Probably not as fast as I’d imagined.
This is part of a broader interior debate I’ve been having lately about our “Born to Run” roots as distance-running hunters: Is it possible that this notion that our ancestors hummed along at a certain unwavering pace like an engine set on cruise control a product of Industrial Age thinking? Is it in fact more natural to run at a pace that feels good, adjusting as you go, and even walking for short recovery periods if needed on occasion?
That certainly doesn’t fit with the part of me that remembers getting my first dose of running in the late ‘70s, when I ran my first 10-mile race as a junior high school kid (before taking a roughly 30-year hiatus).
The problem, I think, is that I’ve got a mild case of Running Mii Disorder. My running mii is an inner depiction of myself that’s way cooler, faster and younger than I really am. I’ve got a “Born to Run” Mii that I started using on distance runs three years ago. Since then I’ve devised others that help me get in the right mindset for whatever it is I’m trying to accomplish.
But the last few months as I studied up more on running strategies in preparation for my first marathon (and later this year my first ultra), I’ve acquired more workout ideas, philosophies and running heroes to model my mii on than I know what to do with. So on Friday I set out to do one kind of run without locking in the proper mindset and wound up doing something entirely different instead – without a clue as to whether I should feel good or bad about it.
Ultimately, I decided it was too gorgeous a day to feel bad about anything. I felt great – almost euphoric, actually – on big chunks of that run. And I was definitely spent afterward, in a good way. I’ll settle in on a more defined training plan soon, and then I’ll get more focused. For now, I’m going to stop worrying about whether I’m doing it “right” so long as I’m doing something.