I reached a milestone that I wasn’t expecting to reach so early in the year – a 20 mile run.
There are a few things to write about relating to this run, including: that sense of achievement when you do something new; how I feel about my Newton Running shoes after a few runs in them; energy gels and chews for the long run; how lucky I am to have a wife who puts up with my running.
Let’s start with the achievement part – running has been a series of achievements for me. Setting myself new goals and working towards them, and there’s nothing like the satisfaction you get from doing something new in your running. I wonder if anyone ever gets to the point where they feel that there’s nothing new to achieve? I’m guessing not, as even as you get older there are goals to be achieved that are relevant to your own capabilities.
Here’s a summary of my run:
and the full details are here.
I’ve been trying to go out and do a long run each month, and have usually gone somewhere new to do them, but for a variety of reasons I decided to run from home, out through Johnson Park to the Delaware and Raritan Canal towpath. This allowed me to do a straight out and back. At one point I was thinking about only going out 9 miles, then back to Johnson Park and add the extra 2 there if I felt I could do it. Ultimately I decided this could lead me to give up and only end up with 18 miles. I was trying to maintain a comfortable pace, which turned out to be around 9 minutes per mile. I think it helped that I knew the path really well (having cycled it many times), but going out started to feel really long. After the turnaround something changed, and it seemed like the first mile of the return run flew by, and then I realized my 14th mile was faster. I was telling myself to slow it down, but before long my pace was faster again, so eventually I decided to just go with the flow.
Now, there are several things that surprised me about this run. Firstly, that I was able to do it at that speed (and that I was able to pick up the pace); also, I was able to do it 2 days after getting caught up with some fast runners at the club run on Saturday and doing this.
And finally, that I have no muscle aches or pains today. I am especially surprised by this, as at the end of the run yesterday my calf muscles felt like they were on fire, but that’s where having “the stick” probably helps.
Now, about the shoes.
I bought the Newton Running Distance with the aim of using them for my longer runs, and I have been doing this. However, for this 20 mile run I decided to wear my trusty New Balance Minimus Road Zero.
After 3 runs (of 7, 11, and 16 miles), I’m still not sure how I feel about the Newtons. It’s not that they’ve caused me injury, but I have this nagging feeling that they could. I’m not sure I can even put my finger on exactly what the problem is, or even if there is one (perhaps it’s psychological). The thing is I don’t feel as sure as I would normally that my form is correct. At the end of runs I have felt like there are some muscles that have been used that I don’t normally notice in other shoes (although it’s been very minor and any aches have disappeared extremely quickly). So, what do I do? Keep them for hilly runs perhaps (they definitely help with speed on the downhill sections)? See if I can exchange them for something I know I like with the Road Runner return policy (not sure how that works)?
I wonder if the problem I have with the shoes comes down to proprioception? This video I came across recently does a good job of explaining it.
Perhaps the lack of feedback is affecting my run, or perhaps the lack of feedback is just making me question how well I am running in the Newtons.
On to energy gels/chews… for a few years when cycling I have used Clif Shot Bloks successfully (Margarita flavor) and now I am running long I have started using them for runs. I usually keep a decent supply in stock by buying in bulk but apparently I lost track of how many I had left, and had nothing. I ordered more, but knowing that I would need something I decided to try something new. I picked up some Jelly Belly Sport Beans and some PowerBar Energy Blasts. Both were disappointing for different reasons. The Jelly Belly Sport Beans tasted good and were easy enough to eat, although the small packet was difficult to open with gloved hands (and it was quite a bit below freezing with the wind chill), but I didn’t notice any effect from eating them. Perhaps the sugar helped a bit. Perhaps I just needed a lot more of them. The Energy Blasts were not good at all – perhaps it was because it was so cold – as I chewed them they broke into small pieces in my mouth, and on one breath I managed to inhale one piece which subsequently had to be coughed back up. I’m planning to try the Honey Stinger Organic Chews soon but didn’t have any for this run.
On to the most important thing of all. My wife. It’s hard to find time to run with 2 young kids. I often go out very early in the morning before anyone else is awake, or I might go out after the kids have gone to bed, but now I am running further than I have before, the time requirements are greater. Yesterday kindergarten was in session for a make up day from Sandy, but the youngest’s daycare was closed, so one was home. My wife encouraged me to go and run; so without her understanding of my obsession, this run would not have happened.