Thursday, March 12, 2009

Running and stopping

Someone left a comment (hi Anonymous!) with a great question:
I'm curious as to how you log your miles -- is it total miles, regardless as to whether you ran them start to finish without stopping? Or do you only count the consecutive miles run? Personally, I guess short walk breaks COULD be considered part of a run (but, for me, I discount them as my total mileage run), but stopping to check email, drink water, etc.? I guess I would look at that as STOPPING. So, I could in good conscience say I ran several shorter mileage runs that equaled a total of 15 miles throughout the day. But, that is me. I am more of a black and white thinker and am hard on myself. I'm wondering if there is a "kinder" way to evaluate running performance, which it sounds like you do.

First of all, thanks for asking the question. I think of my runs as short (anything 7 miles or less), medium (8 to 12 miles) and long (13 miles or more). On short runs I only stop at red lights. On medium runs I usually plan to run by a drinking fountain (if there's a bathroom there, that's a plus!) and will stop for a minute or two. On longer runs, I will stop about every hour to eat an energy gel and have some water and kind of "reset" my brain.

So do I still count the miles I've covered, regardless of stopping? Absolutely! I can think of a few reasons why I choose this "kinder" way to log training miles:
  1. Knowing I can stop helps to get me out the door on days when I really don't want to run. This is a biggie when you're running 40 - 50 miles per week!
  2. Time on my feet is the point of my training these days, regardless of stops. In the training materials for the American River 50, they recommend a run/walk strategy for the entire race of run 20 minutes walk 5 minutes. And they count that as running!
  3. Stopping on training runs was how I did my long runs for the marathon. Did I stop while running the marathon? No! Would the marathon have been "easier" if I'd pushed myself harder on the long training runs? Of course! But it worked for me.
I suppose that's the bottom line: it works for me. I know most serious runners would rather die than stop during a run. Well, I actually don't know that, but I think that's probably true. :) And I definitely stop more now as I train for the 50 mile race than I did when training for shorter distance races, as the impression I get from reading about ultras is that brief stops are vital to finishing. Does "brief" mean checking email? Probably not! :) But as I said, Monday's run was a strange one and certainly not typical of my training.

Finally, I really understand black and white thinking and being hard on yourself, as that's the land I've lived in for most of my life. I've worked very hard to find some "middles" and that's made life more fun and much easier. Years ago I was seeing a counselor who was talking to me about this very issue. She asked me if I knew what lived in between the colors black and white, and as I was angry at the time, I snapped back "Yeah, grey and I HATE grey! It's the worst color there is!" She gently replied "Actually, no. In between black and white is where all the colors in the rainbow live." I was stunned and speechless. You mean that something beautiful lives in the middle spaces? I've played with that idea in my mind for years.

Today I'm running 12. Will I stop? You betcha! But I won't be checking my email until after the run. ;) Thanks for taking the time to comment and ask the question.


courtney said...

Great post, Leslie!
I enjoyed reading it.

tfh said...

Great response! When I ran my first trail race, only 13.1 but designed to get more women interested in running ultras, I was walking up a hill feeling dejected that I wasn't running when one of the volunteers cheered me on: "Great strategy! That's how you gotta run if you're going to run ultras." It was SO sweet and now I am adding your words to that encouragement to guide me when I'm feeling like taking brief breaks is "cheating."

Diana said...

Yeah, now I don't have to feel "dirty" for taking small breaks during my run! This will make my run this afternoon more enjoyable! I hate having to wait till later in the day to get out, but it's only 10 and supposed to get to 25 later, I'd rather run when it's in the 20's than the teens!

Diana said...

Oops....forgot to add...Thanks for the positive vibes! I wonder if I can get some "plastic" surgery while getting rid of the dead gallbladder!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great response. It really gives me something to think about. I'm on a mission to become more gentle with myself this year, and I think this applies. And thanks for sharing your therapist's view on the middle of black and white being a rainbow rather than grey . . . hmmm . . .

Brit-Man said...

Interesting point about the Black, White, Grey scenario.

I would personally think of it as a place away from the Rainbow spectrum, but somewhere close.

That way if you can actually see the Rainbow area, you can then try to work out how to build a mental bridge to it, or travel across the divide some other way.

Almost all people have the ability to do such things, but it takes that one moment of self belief, to start looking for the answers, and then anything could be possible.

After all everything in life has to begin with one thing, one catalyst, one trigger, whether it results in good or bad things, so therefore the individual must have that one moment, to be able to start finding a better place within themselves.

As long as they are not afraid to look, they almost certainly will find; however long it takes.

Take care and best wishes.

:-) :-).


Jo Lynn said...

And just so you know Leslie, you were on my mind as I drove home yesterday (even though I didn't call LOLOL). ;)
I ended up buying a bix box of sugar babies at a gas station after the "incident" and ate the whole darn thing. I think he should have let me go too. But hey, I was breaking the law.