May 28, 2005

My secret life

As those of you who read her blog know, Rose has become a runner. She's gone from not being able to run a quarter mile (as of...about a year ago?) to doing three miles in a row on the treadmill, so, pretty awesome, yes?

As for me, I've jogged on and off for many years now, as gym memberships and shin splints have permitted. I'd never had any goals in particular except my usual self-competitive ones of "go faster than I did last time" or "run for longer than I did last time"; I did generally improve on my performance over time, although this progress was made more sporadic than it might otherwise have been because of gaps in my exercising. Like, I hadn't had a gym membership for a while when Rose and I joined the Boerum Hill Y, and found myself back at only being able to run ten-minute miles for 30 or 40 minutes, which was about where I started.

But Rose does have a goal -- she's training to run a marathon this fall. And, inevitably, some of her seriousness about running has started to rub off on me. For instance, I now actually own running clothes, and not just one of my crappier T-shirts and my old cut-off pair of suit pants that I used to use for workout shorts. (I realized a better shirt might be in order when my nipples started feeling chafed after one of my longer runs, and I realized new shorts were called for when my MP3 player fell through a hole in my pocket.) So I picked up a fancy moisture-wicking shirt and pair of shorts as part of a sneakers-buying expedition to Rose's favored running store (Jackrabbit, in Park Slope). It's a very cool store. The staff totally did not make us feel like running pretenders, and they get all high-tech on the issue of buying sneakers -- they have you run on a treadmill while they take a digital video, and then you get to watch yourself run in slow motion as they analyze your stride and figure out what kind of sneaker would be best for you. Turns out my ankles tended to roll inward in my old sneakers, so I got a pair with better arch support, and now my ankles are muuuuuuch happier when I run.

And, of course, my stamina and speed have continued to increase -- my best performance so far was eight miles in 64 minutes -- but I had still never ventured off the treadmill at the gym. Rose, however, does not love the gym, with its poor air conditioning and constant barrage of closed-captioned TV, and spring weather (when the world has deigned to give us spring weather) and the park have been calling to her for a while now. So she picked up a running belt, with a doohickey to hold a bottle of water and various pockets for tissues, keys, and whatever, and took her first loop around Prospect Park the other day. (It's about three and a third miles around.)

So I, in my "I'm not really motivated enough to do the things one would probably want to do to prepare to run laps around the park of my own accord, but if there are a running shirt, running shorts, decent sneakers, a running belt, and an MP3 player lying around the apartment, then, yeah, that does sound fun, running around the park, let's do that!" kind of way, decided to venture out today myself.

And it was pretty exhilarating, but I believe the first thought I had was, Damn! Running in the real world is way, way harder than running on a treadmill! If I am getting a little tired on a treadmill, I can simply tell it that I would like to not be on a slope anymore. In the real world, hills are just as long as they are. I was so tired after my first loop of the park that I considered calling it a workout and heading home, but I walked for a bit and stretched my tibialis anterior muscles, which are invariably the ones that get achy when I run nowadays (I think they used to be stronger when I was taking tap-dance classes) and stuck it out.

As a prelude to my second observation, I should mention that I like to run with music on, and when I say that, I mean that I like to run to music. That is, I like to run to music whose tempo matches my running pace. And so, aided by my considerable obsessive streak, my MP3 player has a lot of songs whose genre has been changed to "Running", and I tell it to shuffle among those songs as I run. And so, today, I felt like I was running superslowly, because all the songs that I was running to were ones that I normally skip over at the gym for being too slow. But then when I finished my first loop of the park, it turned out that I had been running approximately eight-minute miles, which is perfectly respectable for me (and better than I had expected to do, as I had already assumed that my running times would be slower in the real world). I guess treadmills are bad simulators of outdoor running in more ways than one.

So anyway, I ended up finishing two laps of the park (which Rose tells me is equivalent to a 10K race) in 57 minutes (not counting my stretching time), which works out to about seven miles an hour -- not bad for my first time out. I'll probably do better next time...if only because by then, hopefully, this MONSTER BLISTER on my right foot will have turned into a callus and will not be distracting me for the entire second lap.

Incidentally, here are some songs which are totally swell to run to:

Cibo Matto, "Working for Vacation"
Marshall Crenshaw, "Something's Gonna Happen"
Adrian Belew, "Beat Box Guitar"
New Order, "Age of Consent"
Soul Coughing, "Collapse"
Hall and Oates, "You Make My Dreams Come True"
The Futureheads, "Decent Days and Nights"
Belle and Sebastian, "Wrapped Up in Books"
Jonathan Coulton, "I'm a Mason Now"
Public Image Ltd., "Rise"

That last one was playing as I finished my run, and I found its refrain of "May the road rise with you" quite heartening as I sped up for the home stretch.

Posted by Francis at 05:17 PM | TrackBack

I'm exhausted just reading this. :0

Posted by: Ellen at May 29, 2005 08:15 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?