Continuing education is something that many professionals are familiar with. Lawyers, accountants, doctors. It’s an inevitable part of our year, and not exactly my favorite way to spend a Saturday morning. I am currently learning about how technology can ruin your law practice. Great, guess I should find a type writer and start sending everything by courier. I don’t really feel like I have learned anything thus far.
In terms of running though, I am constantly learning new things. I thought I knew everything about my body and it’s limits. I learned the past few days that, surprisingly (because I am usually right about most things), I was wrong. My shin splints have all but disappeared thanks in large part to my BodyHelix universal calf sleeves. My IT band problems are also just an occasional nagging reminder that I need to stretch more. So I think “great, I can run more and run harder!” WRONG. My trapezius muscle on the right side of my neck has turned into a giant ball of rocks and gristle. I am wearing my Korean herbal patches 12 hours a day. I get massages, try to run as relaxed as possible, but the rock/gristle ball keeps getting bigger. So even though my legs are fine, I have learned that some part of my body has to give me fits. Otherwise, my life would just be too easy.
With my rock/gristle ball constantly reminding me that I’m not 15 anymore, I took on two runs that were not supposed to be overly challenging. I have learned that I am now incapable of just doing a true recovery run. Note to all of you runners out there: don’t be like me. Take your recovery runs like you are supposed to. I am just a glutton for punishment, and am often literally running against the clock- so the faster I run, the more I can do in my limited period of time designated for working out. Last night I did a 6 mile tempo run then 6 x 1 minute hill sprints. “Tempo” is a pace that’s not all that comfortable. It’s not fast, but it’s hard enough that you can’t talk much. I did not intend for it to be a tempo run, but, as per usual, I only had 55 minutes to do that run plus my sprints. In addition, there was just one person on the indoor track at my parents’ gym, and naturally, he was the fastest 59-year-old in High Point. He was repping out 7 minute miles and passing me every mile, so of course, I had to run faster. So I did six miles in 46 minutes. It actually felt pretty good. Then I did my hill sprints at a level 8 incline and 8.0 mph pace. Death ensued. I thought I would have one of those fall of the treadmill moments. There’s a lot of older, less intense exercisers at my parents’ gym on a Friday night, and surely they thought I was insane. Because I am. I knew my legs were dead after Thrursday night’s workout, but I ran too fast anyway.
So this morning would be my easy 7-8 mile run in preparation for Sunday’s long run. Wrong again. I decided to run with the infamous Sherman Criner. He is mediator and father of three in Wilmington that was in town for Continuing Education. Oh, and he happens to be training for an Ironman. And I thought I was crazy? No, he runs more than me, then, during the time I spend eating, napping, and watching tv, he goes and swims or bikes. Yeah, that’s never happening unless I get a heart, lung, and lower body transplant. Sherman wanted to do a nine mile tempo run. We run at fairly similar paces so I knew this would be a problem. I wanted to run like an 8:30-8:45 pace, and really was thinking 8 miles would be a stretch. But I figured we could make it work. I mapped out the run at 11 pm last night. I was well aware of the topography having traversed the same roads with my automobile multiple times. It was a perfect 8 mile out-and-back course (4 miles down then turn around and head back those 4 miles). Except for the fact that there were about 7 hills that were a 9% grade and 1/3 mile long each. They were horrendous. Absolutely the worst course I have ever mapped. Even if I were running on fresh legs, I still would have been spewing out four letter words and wishing I could just get hit by a car to end it all. Running on dead legs only 12 hours after my last run made my pain, and resultantly, anger with myself, that much greater. Did I mention the run started before 7am when it was less than 30 degrees out? There were times during the run that I honestly felt we were running backward. I felt like the man who pushed his son in a wheelchair while doing the Ironman was running faster, and less painfully, than me. I really wanted to hang it up and go into Sheetz for one of those “flavored coffees” that is 1% coffee, 99% sugar, chocolate, and cream- but I didn’t have any money. Plus, I didn’t want Sherman to think I was a wuss. He is running 16 miles tomorrow and did some crazy 12×400 hill workout the other day. Our last mile was virtually uphill too, which is odd because I didn’t recall running downhill in the first mile. That’s how it always goes. We finished in 1:09 for an 8:42 pace. Sherman’s GPS must be messed up, because I could have sworn we were speed-walking up those hills at a 13:00/mile pace. All in all, it wasn’t a bad time. It was the most painful 8:42 pace run ever.
Just when I thought I couldn’t put my body in any more pain, I manage to top myself. I think I am really going to need a recovery week next week. And tomorrow’s run cannot be pretty. I will be doing it in Raleigh, which is just one giant hill. I may have to run laps around the Food Lion parking lot to avoid any hills. Don’t think I won’t do it. I think I already met my hill quota for the month.
Whether you are learning more about your profession, your relationships, or running, it’s amazing to realize what our bodies and minds are capable of. While I don’t think my brain has room for much more information about professionalism (which I am full of), I know my body can learn how to deal with pain, soreness, and being deprived of a chicken biscuit on a Saturday morning. Seriously, it is in shock. It’s like “um hey, it’s 10 am, where’s my reward for being filled with Gatorade and nasty power gel?” Unfortunately, there is no Bojangles at the Grandover Resort, so I have to go without… for now.