Archive for July, 2012

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Just Wing It

July 17, 2012

Running should be fun. It is not always. Like anything in life, if you do something over and over again, it can tend to feel like a chore. Even when running a route for the twentieth time, I always try to find something new about the terrain or just think about something different that makes the road feel fresh.

This past weekend I decided it was time to just wing it. Many runners in training have serious plans with prescribed mileage for each day. Having that is great, smart, and it works. Despite that, sometimes you just need to go out and run. It helps to not think about how far you are supposed to go, or how fast. Listen to your body, get lost on unfamiliar streets or just pick a favorite loop that makes you happy.

Here is how my “wing it” run weekend turned out. Friday evening I set out to my favorite local trail. There was one point when I decided to go a different direction than I normally do, and it ended up being a great 7.27 mile run. Seeing a new piece of this paved trail kept my mind active, but the familiarity with the general surroundings allowed me the freedom to push my pace a bit. Saturday I went out on one of my most frequent routes intending to change it up by taking a street that would stretch out the run to five miles, as opposed to the normal 4.3. When I headed up that new street, I quickly lost the sidewalk and then realized that there were no cross streets to take me back to where I had wanted to be. After finding my way back, I ended up doing my normal route, but backwards. This was not some intense, life-altering journey. It was just five miles and an easy way to break from routine and have an enjoyable run.

Then came Sunday. Since Saturday was a shorter day, this was going to be my long run. The most distance I had hit in recent weeks was ten miles, given recent temperatures soaring into triple-digits. Today felt different though. Right before I left home, I decided to run to a nearby monument that was almost exactly 6.5 miles away… and back. It was unclear if I would make it all the way, but that was what this weekend was all about for my running. Lace up and see what happens next. Heavy heat and the lack of a proper breakfast contributed to a challenging run, but I made it there and back—13.28 miles total—successfully. Midway through I let myself stop to rest, enjoy the scenery around the monument, and grab a quick water break. Even though it was considerably slower than even my long runs, it still felt great to appreciate the day, the location, and my total distance.

Regardless of how you define winging it, runners can always benefit from changing it up sporadically. It is the same reason why fitness trainers should encourage different exercises to target similar muscle groups at the gym. The mind and body can both benefit from this type of workout modification. Again, this could be doing something completely out of the norm like attempting a trail run if you are used to the streets. Or it could be something simple like changing a few turns on a common route. After going on a run or two for the sole purpose of enjoying the outdoors and your own company, then you can return to the structured training plan feeling refreshed.

Do you like to wing it? What are some of your best memories from unplanned running?

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Run Red, White, and Blue

July 4, 2012

It is the 4th of July, America’s birthday. This is a day of flags waving, fireworks, barbeques, and one gluttonously American hot dog eating contest. Even Google has a doodle to celebrate. For us runners it means an array of celebratory races to chose from. The always familiar titles include events like, “Four on the Fourth,” “Firecracker Four Miler,” “Independence Day Run,” and “Freedom 5k.” There is never a dearth of options. If you are a beginning runner looking for a fun day to race on, this is definitely a great opportunity.

This year, however, I decided to take the 4th off from racing. Truthfully, I cannot remember the last time this day did not appear on my race calendar. But it seemed like a good year to enjoy a mid-week, alarm-free morning and run on my own. I thought it would be nice to head over to the Iwo Jima Memorial and honor those who have helped to protect Independence Day throughout our country’s history. A few miles in the heat were well worth the experience that always comes from a visit to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial. It always feels petty to complain about weather in the shadow of such great honor and sacrifice, so I tried to push hard the whole run. A big thank you to those who serve, and a happy 4th of July to all!

Here are two great songs to get you pumped up for Independence Day. Enjoy!

“Red, White, and Blue” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

“Miss America” (Troop Salute video) – Saving Abel

Did you do a July 4th race? Did you run on your own to celebrate the day? Or did you take it off altogether?

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