Friday, March 2, 2012

#391: Walk Before You Run Before You Walk, etc.

Living Strong at the Y
I launched a fundraiser yesterday, to coincide with my preparations for the Pittsburgh Marathon in May. I hope to raise $11,000 for LIVESTRONG at the YMCA. It's a program that helps cancer patients, survivors, and fighters like me to take control of our lives and wellness through exercise, nutrition, and education. This program has meant so much to me over the past year, and I want to help make sure it is available for many more cancer fighters after me. I'll be bombarding everybody who will listen with pleas for money over the next two months, so keep an open mind... and an open check book!

Training Week
It's been a pretty good training week, now that the great Groin Fest is over. I took a couple days off,. and the rest did me good. Not many miles, but I felt very strong and faster than I have been in a while. Looking for some Long Slow Miles this weekend when I hit the Run the Bluegrass course with the Striders. My cross-training included a great Zumba class on Sunday before work, and some quality laps in the pool. My stroke is getting stronger, but my endurance still leaves a lot to be desired. I'm doing my workouts 50m at a time, which is fine until the 9 year-olds come in and start swimming 500's.

In Praise of Walk Breaks
I have two friends at the YMCA who are training for upcoming races, one is a 3K, and one a half-marathon. At one time or another they have both expressed anxiety and frustration to me because they still can't "run the whole way." They really don't want to have to stop running and walk. And I have to ask myself, "Why?" Here's my tale of two Fat Men Running.

Before I bought into the Jeff Galloway Run/Walk/Run schtick, I logged fewer miles, I ran them more slowly, and they hurt more. The idea of completing a 10K was beyond my imagination. I didn't have many serious injuries, but I was sore a lot. I still took walk breaks... I just waited until I was too tired to run before I would take them. I didn't walk to recover, I walked to surrender.

Today, before I start a run, I set my watch to beep out the intervals I want to run/walk. If I feel like superman, I might take a break every 10 minutes. Once, when I felt especially bad, I set it to go off every 30 seconds. And I have to tell you, both felt like really good runs. When I know I'm going to be running for 3 or 4 hours, that first break after 4 minutes can seem a little goofy, but I know I'm saving gas for the end of the workout when the minutes are longer and the hills steeper. I'm not afraid to press my pace a little, because I know there's a walk break coming in just a few seconds. I can maintain good form after several miles, so I don't get as sore and tired in my upper body as I used to.

The bottom line for me is, I can run as often as I want to run, and I can enjoy every single step. I'm not going to be an elite runner. I will probably never win my age group, no matter how old I get. But I will be able to keep running and feeling great about it. I don't mind taking walk breaks at 51, if it means I can still be running when I'm 91, and that's my plan.

The secret to exercise success is finding something you love to do. Until you do that, you won't feel drawn to a workout, you'll have to push yourself toward it. But once you find that thing that makes you want to pack the bag, pull on the fins, or lace up the shoes and go, then by all means find a way to do it that doesn't turn your love into an obligation. I would never run if it were a chore. No sane person would do something that hurt every time they did it.

Take it from someone who lives at the back of the pack. The scenery is still beautiful, the cheers at the finish line are still sweet, and that medal still  feels great around your neck, even if you don't have to crawl to the stand to receive it.


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