Something I noticed when I was putting this post together was that my lap times are actually slightly better than the Tuesday run. And I didn't push myself or anything. Well, I didn't push myself much. I am thinking if I can keep doing a mile, at least a couple of times a week, it should just keep on getting better and better. At this point I am tweaking what I wear. Winter running (and it's not even winter yet!) is a lot different than Spring and Summer running. I am not a fan of the cold, and muscles don't necessarily like the cold either. So I am being careful. I have some proper winter running leggings coming soon, I have a headband to cover my ears (the cold really bothered them, though not until after the run) and I will figure out either an extra top layer, or a different one. Gloves might have to happen eventually too.
Recently I have been thinking about running again. For anyone that doesn't know, I actually love running. I used to be really fast, and I ran all the time. When I was a teenager I spent a lot of time racing kids on bikes (while I was on foot, if that was not clear). Age, weight, and bad joints has caused me to not run like I once did. Yet. I have decided that I will embrace the power of yet.
Years ago I worked with the unified track team at Ludlow High School. Which meant for a few months out of the year I got to run 3 days a week. One of my proudest moments, for myself, was managing to do a 400m without stopping to walk. It didn't matter that it was incredibly slow, I did it. I had 3 years with unified track, then they dropped the program for lack of numbers. I was fighting to get it back, and was making progress, and then the pandemic hit. Then we didn't even have school, let alone track.
This past June Travis aged out of school, and while I still see a real need for unified track, I can't be the one fighting for it. I can't fight for something I can't personally go and support, and I don't have the time in my day to be there personally. Which sucks. but recently I have been surrounded by running. I discovered a friend of mine runs marathons. A vlogger I watch sometimes decided to try taking up running. She hates it, but I was reminded how much I love it. And I was inspired. So last Tuesday, I went to the track and ran.
I am a realistic person and I realized that jumping in to anything too hard and too fast would just cause injury, which would actually delay any progress. So I decided to try a mile, with the idea that I could walk it as much as I needed to. I made it 3/4 of a mile and the track team showed up. I guarantee I could have done the last lap, but I decided not to push it. For the curious, I walked on the curves and I ran (slowly) on the straight sides of the track. My lap times were not great. Yet. I have a lot of time to work on this. The Desforges challenge is at the end of April. See? Lot's of time.
I realized right away, after that first run, that I needed better shoes. Sure, mine were sort of technically running shoes, but no, they are not great. I could feel every step of the running parts of the run, and not in any sort of good way. Since I had already decided to get pretty serious about this running business, I decided to get serious about my shoes. So I researched and I found that the Brooks Ghost 14 (I learned that good running shoes have series numbers) had really excellent reviews on several different lists. So I took the plunge and ordered them. Not being able to try them on in person is a bit scary, but it worked out. My shoes arrived, really quickly, fit perfectly, in all the ways a running shoe is supposed to, were cushiony without being squishy, and I was excited to try them out.
Saturday afternoon, my running buddy (Travis) and I headed to the track. It was 35 degrees and I quickly decided I needed better winter running pants. Stupid Massachusetts is going to just keep on getting colder. My base layer top is good, but I think I need a warmer second upper layer. Though after I got going I was warm enough. The pants need an upgrade (I have some coming). Anyway, the walk out to the track was very cold, and even Travis admitted it was cold and had chattering teeth. We stretched and got into our run. I was still doing intervals (walk the curves, run the long sides) and Travis ran whenever the mood struck him and then would walk.
This time around I did the full mile. At one point a couple of guys showed up and one of them was doing laps. Fast ones. And I noticed but didn't compare myself to him. Dude was likely half my age and clearly had been training. My total time is longer, but I did an extra 1/4 mile. The shoes are fantastic and I had zero recovery time after the second run. I woke up Sunday feeling just fine. Definitely investing in good shoes was a great idea.
So far I am really enjoying this challenge. I also want to stop anyone who is thinking of commenting on just how bad running is for my bad joints. I already know. Yes, running is a very popular thing for a lot of people, but the percussive force of running is pretty hard on a joints. And yes, I have some pretty crappy joints (mostly in my knees and one ankle). But I also am working on building the muscles around the crappy joints, which is in fact really good for them. And I love running. Some of it is getting in a nice workout really fast. Or moderately fast at the moment. I just know that my fairly physical job is great, but more exercise is better. So why not do something I love? And those lap times will just keep getting shorter and shorter. Those fancy shoes I bought are going to be worth every penny.