Monday, February 16, 2009

Running Machine

So I've mentioned my running endeavours a couple of times now. I started running regularly almost a year ago. I've slowly built up my mileage and participated in a couple of races, an 8K in Seattle and a 10K in Florida. I am a fairly slow runner, but my goal was never to be fast. I was happy with my mile average being between 10 and 11 minutes. I was happy just to not HATE running anymore and to not WALK during a race.

So what does this have to do with living in the Northwest? First, I feel that people who live up here, as a general rule, tend to be healthier and more fitness-oriented. I want to be a part of that, and now I am. Additionally, it was REALLY too hot to run in Florida. I hated the humidity. Sure, it's cold here occasionally, but the mild weather here makes it much easier for me to keep up with a running routine.

In order to keep up with my running during the winter months, I decided that I should try something new. In December I joined a local running group. We meet every Thursday night for a run and then hang out to eat and drink beer in a local sports bar. I was nervous to join the group because I knew they run a little faster than I generally go. However, I also know that running with other people is the best way to get faster. I approached my first run with a little trepidation, but I kept up with the slowest member of the group and ran 4.2 miles in a record speed. And I just keep getting faster every week. I now can run 4.2 miles, averaging an 8:17 mile. The group members are fantastic and are really good at pushing me and encouraging me.

And I didn't stop with my Thursday night running group. I wanted to up my mileage and I was having a hard time motivating myself, so I joined a lunchtime running group at work too! I've been running at lunch 2-3 times a week for awhile now. I can get in a 30 minute run and shower, which allows me more time in the evenings to do my own thing. I've come across a running group occasionally on my solo runs, and they invited me to join them. So at least once a week, I join the work group for a run that is generally 35-45 minutes. This also challenges me. This group also moves a little faster than my normal pace and they go on trailruns. I had never done trailrunning before, because even though the trails are close to work, I felt uncomfortable running in the woods by myself. So this group introduced me to the trails. Let me tell you, trailrunning is hard! Running on the street is fairly easy; trailrunning requires more muscle engagement in order to balance and not trip on the uneven terrain or get attacked by tree branches.

So now, no matter what happens, I always run at least twice a week. Generally I supplement these runs by running on my own 2 more times a week. I'm trying to build up to 5 times a week total. I'd like to get my mileage up to 20-25 miles a week. This past week I definitely achieved that goal because of an awesome long run. On Saturday my local running group held a little fun run for its members, the Million-Inch-Run. They created an approximately 16 mile course with some water stations. I knew that I wouldn't go that far, but the course was an out-and-back, meaning I could turn around at anytime and go back. The farthest I had ever run was a 6.2 mile race on Thanksgiving. I figured I would shoot for a 7 or 8 mile run as a challenge. Well, I didn't make that goal; I exceeded it beyond my wildest expectations. I ran 10 miles without stopping. So last week I hit my 20 mile goal. Now I just need to keep it up! The good thing is that now I have tons of people encouraging me and helping me achieve my goals.

(Picture is of me after I got home from my first 10-miler. I look exhausted. I spent the rest of the day on the couch. But I quickly recovered and feel ready for a run again!)

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