Lately, the running bug has been biting again. When I first embraced a lifestyle of physicality back in 2008, running was my thing. I still loved my kettlebells and calisthenics, but primarily because they enabled me to run a ridiculous amount of miles without falling apart.
I sort of peaked in 2011-2012, after hitting several milestones, culminating with a 115 mile 24 hour race showing. While training for that particular race, I manage to set personal bests in pretty much every distance, including the mile(4:57), 5k(17;57), and Marathon(2:58). These are decent times by most measures, but nothing too fancy. For a regular guy chasing two kids and working(at times at 7 different places throughout the week), who, several years before was 100 pounds overweight and unable to walk without intense pain, however, I'd say it's pretty good.
The best part was, for me at least, I was told the entire time by fellow runners that I was "doing it wrong". I didn't write anything down, I didn't follow any plans. There was no GPS, no pace training. Sometimes, I'd do a hard run the day before a race because it felt "right".
Sometimes, I'd go several days to a week without running, but I'd always warm up and see if it still felt "off." Other times, I'd run hard for weeks on end.
Whatever I was doing, I always felt better after a workout. Over time, the runs got faster, and they got longer. Sometimes 3 runs a day, sometimes only 2 a week, but there were no garbage miles.
So, now that I've spent 3-4 years NOT running, and I feel like running again, what a perfect time to write this stuff down and share as I go.
This is not a plan to run personal bests. This is my personal approach to running by feel. It worked before, I'm sure it'll work again!
Last night, I signed up for the Mayfest 5k. Ten minutes before that, I thought it would be a good idea to run nothing but 5k's until I get in the ballpark of my old speed. Keep in mind, I was a 155 pound waif back then. Now I'm carrying an extra 45 pounds of gains. Okay, maybe like 30 pounds of gains and 15 pounds of power belly.
Side note: There's something to be said about lifting instead of running. In running, it may take several hours to finish doing something you've been training for. In lifting, you pick it up, you put it down, and you're done in a couple seconds. But I digress...
So I'm thinking two months to train for a 5k is a good kick start. I've been consistent with conditioning, pushing the prowler a couple times a week, goofing off with kettlebells daily, and even busting out the occasional jaunt around the neighborhood.
So, I'm off for my first training run in years!
First thing, I know that I run best at around 90bpm. Mike's first rule of running is that the music must match your cadence must match your breath. Of course, I have entire playlists with that exact tempo, but I figured out with the old, in with the new. I went to Amazon Prime, and typed "90bpm" into the search engine. I ended up with an EP called "90bpm" by Chaper. It was four laid back trip-hoppy songs, all set to 90bpm, making for a great warmup.
I started out breathing in for three breaths and out for three breaths, until I felt loose enough to go two in-two out. When I breathe, I relax and let the air come in and out through my nose and mouth together. I stay relaxed enough to where the impact of my feet hitting the ground is enough to push the air. At first it requires a conscious effort, but with time becomes automatic.
After the breath felt dialed in, I worked on my legs. First, I ensure that I'm pushing off below the big toe. Then, I imagine there is nothing below my knees. From there, I work on lifting my knees to widen my stride, just until my adductors wake up and join the team. After that, I dial it back in to a more relaxed stride. Occasionally, I'll bring the feet back into it, by wiping poop off my shoes without scuffing the soles. Sometimes, I'll combine wiping the poop with pulling the knees high. As I start to push a little, I make quick scans to make sure that my hands aren't crossing the center point.
After that quick instrumental, I felt pretty warm. The old warm-up was like riding a bike. I did notice that I wanted to lean forward at the waist. Maybe those 8 minute planks back in the day weren't a total waste of time after all?
Now, for the main part of the workout, I ended up listening to a group called Pendulum. A lot of their stuff is in the 90bpm range, and it's extremely uptempo. The first song on their Immersion album was "Salt in the Wounds", and it turned out to be an excellent song to run fast to. I played it twice. There are tempo changes, which I used as active recovery. The tempo change was perfect for walking uncomfortably fast to.
Mike's second rule of running is to walk really, really fast for recovery. This is one that used to get me a lot of weird looks, but I feel it was one of the keys to my successful training.
Think about it. When you walk really fast, you feel your butt working. You're forcing your gait to turn over fast. Your heart rate will come back own to a level you can train at, and in the meantime, you can be reinforcing good turnover, hip dominant movement, dynamic posture, as well as the intangible mental toughness.
Or you can be like everyone else, and relax. Let your shoulders slump, become kyphotic, and let your knees do the extra work while your butt stays asleep. Then wonder why so many runners have knee and back pain. But I'm crazy for walking like a kid at the swimming pool that just got told to stop running.
Also, during the meat and potatoes of my workout, I'm really just repeating the warmup drills, but increasing the intensity a bit. Wake the adductors up a little more, wipe the poop harder, focus and zone out, push, walk, repeat. As my heart rate climbs, by switching focuses, my perceived exertion stays lower. Push harder, feel better. Any questions?
As luck would have it, the second helping of the song ended just as I crested the hill I live on. I let it carry into the next song, "Watercolour", and used that as a cool down.
While cooling down, I still match the breath to the music to the feet. I begin at the top end of my comfort zone, and gradually slow down. It's pretty simple, really.
All in all, first training run was about 4 miles, and I have no idea what my pace was. Looking forward to tomorrow.