Running becomes an addiction after a while (some call it a state of mind). It’s very hard to sit still at home while knowing that you could be out – running. In my experience, it takes about two weeks of non-running to get rid of this feeling. After it is gone, you need about 2 runs to get back into the game.
So with this in my mind, my New Year’s resolution for 2010 is:
Go running at least once in the first half of the month.
It’s a realistic goal that should allow me to get back into running every time I stop for whatever reason.
There are two ways to read your RSS feeds. You can skim through the text and the titles, getting general idea on the topic, or you can sit down, take a sip of the coffee and contemplate what you are reading. The problem with the second approach is that it takes real-time and dedication as those long posts often include videos that are several minutes long. A lifetime in terms of real-time web!
Somehow a video from Merlin Mann caught my eye yesterday. In the video (embedded below, that I highly recommend), he talks about play and how we have to give our bodies something to distract them while we think and come up with creative solutions. Like playing with pans, balls, etc.
Anyway, most of the time most of us are not in position to do anything about the mess in our lives. But listen to Sterling’s talk. It’s only 43 minutes. It might be the best 43 minutes you’ve ever spent.
So how do you go about listening such an important talk (and I’ve heard Bruce talk before, so I knew it’s good), without being distracted by everything around me?
Simple: put the running shoes on, load the talk on an iPod and go running. Since it’s a rather long talk, a 10km run is just about right.
What you’ll experience is a full submersion in the talk. Since your whole body is preocuppied with breathing and moving the muscles, and your ears are hearing interesting talk that your brain has to process, there is no time for wandering thoughts.
The only problem with this approach is that you have to pick up really stimulating talks that interest you as otherwise you’ll just suffer. But luckily our trusted gatekeepers keep posting links to them all the time, so it’s rather easy to find them.
About a year ago I first put on my Nike running shoes with Nike+ adapter for iPod and went running. While this was not my first run of the summer, I can say right now that buying proper running shoes and that 30 dollar gadget was probably the biggest reason why I managed to properly start and continue running thought the year.
The way I remember starting to run it’s pretty simple: it hurts. A lot. You run a bit, you walk and you wonder why are even doing this. But with every day, you can run a bit farther and soon you can run 3km at slow pace, yet without stopping! And the feeling is incredible enough that you keep returning to that field and you continue running.
After a while, I figured out that I actually feel refreshed and full of energy after a good run. So as the summer ended, I did more night runs on the street and in the light rain and it still felt great. With it, came also the many benefits of regular running, which was that I felt much better and that I kept a better look at the way I eat as I couldn’t compensate heavy food with coffee anymore. No matter how much you try, you can’t go running for hours after a pizza and if you do, it’s a really bad experience.
Being able to run, I noticed two interesting things on totally different levels:
There are runners everywhere and they love to talk about running, go to running events and even organize them. If after saying that you work “with teh Internets”, you get a blank look or one of the “oh, yet another geek”, just mention that you’re also a runner and you’ve probably made a new friend. Arrange a running date you’re all set.
It really takes a few months for the body to change to accommodate for the running. When you read all those training guides that start with “only try this after 6+ months of running”, they actually mean it. Body does change and it gets easier with every month.
On the topic of running community. I’ve been lucky to be accepted into the Koornk running group from my beginnings, and even though I’m not a very active member, they’re are a great support group and I really enjoyed the times I actually went to events with them. Big thanks guys and girls!
Funny enough, my strongest month was November
There are a couple of lessons I learned in the process:
Having a regular rhythm that has a time slot for running is the easiest way to ensure that you go running. Having said that, just traveling around with your running shoes in the suitcase, is also rewarding enough.
While the distance and speed are important, it’s mostly about going out, enjoying your run and having some quality time for yourself.
Running is the best place to discover new things in your neighborhood and get a feeling for the place as you move somewhere.
A few things I’d like to work on in my next year of running:
Being more social in running. Learning how to run in pairs and groups and going to more events. While I truly enjoy running alone, I’m sure there’s an additional perspective to running in a group.
Extend my regular running distance to ~10km per run. I’m at about 5-6km at the moment and I feel I can make some progress in this regard.
Get some proper running training, to see if I’m running correctly and to ensure I don’t get hurt in the future.
There’s also an idea of running a half-marathon and a full marathon sometime in the future, but it’s not an important goal as I’d much rather just enjoy running for now.
It took me about two weeks of living in San Francisco to realize that as much as I love roller skating, it just won’t work. I don’t mind going up the hills, but going down just didn’t seem that much fun or even safe for that matter. So I slowly started running again and learned to love all the hills around me.
As always, there were a few interesting lessons that I learned from exploring the new area:
Google Earth is useless at telling you the height difference. You can plot a perfect running path and discover mid-way that there is a significant hill in-between.
Memorizing possible paths prior to running is all great in theory, but once you’ve ran for 45 minutes you realize that all streets have similar names here: “San Something” or they sound Spanish and that you don’t know how to get home via your preferred route.
This leads to doing stupid things like running 15km, which to my surprise wasn’t that hard. I did take a few days off after that, just to make sure I fully regenerate.
Getting back to 100km/month wasn’t that hard and it took me only 3 runs/week. I’m hoping to raise it to 4 runs/week in next month.
That’s about it. This was my 11 month of running since I started last year and I can’t wait to see how my “last” month will go and to tally up the whole first year of running.
I’m also not sure about how I should proceed with my runs. I’m comfortable with my current pace and distance, but I’m not sure how much I can safely add into my training in terms of distance and number of runs.
It’s then up to the runner to decide how far you want to get. Personally I quite enjoy climbing up and then slowly descending over the longer route.
The other I noticed is that people are much friendlier to runners around here. Lots of them give you a positive smile or greet you while you run by them and you get similar response from other runners. Maybe it’s just my neighborhood like that, but I’m not used to such welcome feeling at home.
The best part of running here is probably the weather. Pretty constant 12-16C makes it enjoyable while not too hot and light breeze from the ocean makes it even better.
For now, running is a much bigger win over here than roller skating.