feb 26/5 MILES

32 degrees
mississippi river road walking path

A beautiful Sunday morning. Decided to challenge myself to running without headphones. Focused on listening.

Things I heard while running, a list

  • Crows cawing
  • Other birds chirping and cooing
  • A woodpecker pecking
  • Geese honking
  • The swoosh of cars as they drive by on the river road
  • The worn wheels of a car, plodding along the river road
  • Some funky music, playing from a radio on a bike
  • The sharp thud of my shoes on the paved path
  • The dull thud of my shoes on dirt and debris on the path
  • The crunch of my shoes on salt and gravel on the path
  • My breathing, usually slow and measured, occasionally quick and labored, like when climbing the Franklin hill
  • My zipper pull, rhythmically banging against my jacket as I run
  • An airplane, faint and far above my head
  • The wind rushing by my ears
  • The wind rustling in the dead leaves that never fell off the trees this past fall
  • Cars thumping above my head as I pass under the Lake Street Bridge
  • The quick and unexpected laughter of a woman on a path below me
  • Bike wheels, rapidly approaching
  • Phantom steps from runners who seem to be gaining on me, yet never pass, managing to turn off onto another path before reaching me. The crunch of their shoes is so slight that I wonder if they even exist, or if I’m imagining them
  • The clanging of a dog’s chain
  • A walker talking quietly on a phone
  • Children faintly laughing

That’s all I can remember.

Here’s a quick video I took just after finishing my run. Not the greatest quality, but effective at reminding me of what I saw when I was done running.

feb 25/5 MILES

34 degrees
mississippi river road walking path

A nice, fast (er/ish) run of 4 miles. Felt good as a way to get rid of some frustration caused by my 10, almost 11, year old daughter.

65 degrees?
ywca track

Ran the last mile at the Y track so that I could join Scott in the hot tub after he finished his run. Lately, I’m not enjoying running on the track. It seems to aggravate my right knee and it’s not nearly as fun as running outside. Even so, today I did enjoy watching the 6 (or was it just 4? Neither Scott or I could remember) simultaneous boys basketball games happening below the track, in the Minnesota Sports Center, while I ran my last mile.

feb 24/XT

25 degrees
longfellow neighborhood

Instead of biking in the front room today, I walked. According to my apple health data I walked a 10k. I doubt that it was quite that much, but I did walk to Room 34’s new studio (Studio 2) and back twice and walked the dog around the neighborhood.

I have always loved walking, way before I loved running, but for different reasons. I’m planning to devote at least one week to thinking through what these reasons are. Here are some readings that could help:

you must walk like a camel, which is said to be the only beast which ruminates when walking.

I love this idea! I’ve often talked about being like a cow and ruminating. I never thought about a camel.

feb 23/10 MILES

33 degrees
mississippi river road walking path/stone arch bridge

I did it. 10 miles without stopping. I have run this distance before. I’ve even raced it four times. But doing a 10 mile training run still seems like a big deal, especially one with so many huge hills. I experimented with fueling by eating a mini pretzel starting at 30 minutes in and then every 10 minutes. That worked. Will it work during a marathon? I doubt it; that’s a lot of 10 minutes and a lot of pretzels.

Currently reading Jen A. Miller’s Running, a love story. Miller mentions Katherine Jeffers Schori, so I looked her up. In an interview with Runner’s World, Schori says this when asked if she feels running helps with her work:

Absolutely. It’s focusing for me. In my tradition we might talk about it as body prayer. It’s a meditative experience at its best. It’s a sort of emptying of the mind.

Body prayer. I like this idea. I want to learn more about it.

feb 21/4 MILES

41 degrees
mississippi river road walking path

I’m in the midst of reading Rachel Toor’s Personal Record. Just before heading out for my run, I came to her chapter, “Speed Goggles.” In it, she writes about her attraction to men who are fast runners; regardless of how they actually look (too skinny, gangly) or act (“uncivilized”), the fact that they run fast makes them attractive to her.

Toor understands going fast to be a mark of commitment and excellence, and what is necessary to be a good runner. Toor wants to be a good runner. She writes:

I have always been a good student, a type A cliché. It I was going to do something, I was going to be good at it….I was never going to jog for my health. I didn’t care all that much about my health, having always been healthy. If I needed at some point to lose weight, there were easier ways to do–starvation, say. No, with running as with all else, I wanted to be good (26).

I thought about Toor’s emphasis on being fast as I got ready to leave the house and then during my run. What do I think about speed? Do I want to be fast? Mostly, I’m taking the opposite perspective: I want to go slow. Being willing to slow down, to stop going so fast in training, is more of a mark of commitment and the willingness to focus on a bigger goal: to run longer–in a race, but in years as a runner, without stopping to walk and without injury.

I also thought about this idea of being good. What does it mean to be good at running? Is it necessarily tied to winning races or going faster and regularly achieving new PRs? If so, I guess I don’t want to be good. At least I don’t think I do. It’s complicated. I like going faster in races and I do have PR goals, but they don’t define the joy I get from running.

I feel stuck in writing this log entry. Too much to think about in terms of my dislike of competition–especially aggressive competitors– but my fear that I’m more competitive than I admit; my stubborn dedication to not being too good at things; my extreme reluctance in ever sharing my times with others, which I attribute to not wanting to brag but wonder if it has more to do with not allowing myself to be proud of my accomplishments.  

feb 20/3.2 MILES

51 degrees
mississippi river road walking path

Managed to finish running before the rain came.  Rain in February?! Was pleased with my easy run; slowing down for the past two months is working. My run seems easier and more relaxed and my heart rate isn’t getting so high. I enjoy the challenge of going slower. Fighting against pride and an investment in being fast. Cultivating humility. Relishing the run, not just rushing through it to achieve another training goal.

My marathon training, much like most things in my life, is a combination of focused dedication to building up helpful habits (in this case, running slower in order to run farther and to avoid injury) and breaking down harmful ones (like running too fast in order to be fast and to be faster than others).

Is this a combination of becoming disciplined (building up) and being undisciplined (breaking down)? With my interest in virtue ethics and the ethical effects of accumulated practices, and my virtual identity as undisciplined, I’m fascinated by this question and the difference between becoming and being here. In my training, I’m giving the edge to being undisciplined, focusing my attention on breaking bad habits and being vigilant against developing new ones that could be just as bad, or worse. This undisciplining work enables me to become disciplined–or focused, dedicated, committed?– in my practices.

 

feb 19/2 MILES

58 degrees
mississippi river road walking path

Not only is it freakishly warm outside but it’s been warm for enough days that all the snow has melted on the walking path. Because they only plow the bike path in the winter, I usually don’t run on the walking path until spring. Today and yesterday I ran by people who were standing around, looking up into the trees at the edge of bluff. What were they looking at? Bald eagles? Falcons? Just admiring the view? I guess I could have stopped to see, but I wanted to keep running.

feb 18/9 MILES

59 degrees
mississippi river road

Another unusually warm day. So warm that I wore shorts. Shorts in February in Minnesota. Weird. Saw my shadow again today. She was moving all around. Sometimes ahead of me. Sometimes just to the side. And sometimes way down in the gorge. Tried eating pretzels during my run. Starting 30 minutes in, a mini-pretzel every 15 minutes. Felt okay while I was running but now I’m totally wiped. Did I not fuel enough or am I wiped out because I ran about 30 seconds per mile too fast? Tons of people out walking and biking today. Mostly not a problem, but some people did annoy me, taking over the whole path or whizzing by without warning. I don’t think a single bike called out “on your left.” I must be mellowing out, because that didn’t really bother me.

feb 17/6.65

59 degrees
mississippi river road path/minnehaha creek path/lake nokomis

Record-breaking warm temperature + no calf pain + a run around Lake Nokomis = Joy

So much joy that I can almost forget about the puddle-covered paths and the super squishing mud that I had to run through and that left a cruddy residue in my socks as I unsuccessfully attempted to avoid soaking my shoes.

feb 16/REST

disclaimer: I’m actually writing this post on the 17th, but it’s about the 16th, so I posting it under that date. 

My calf started hurting yesterday, after my run. Good thing it’s a rest day today so I don’t have to deliberate over whether or not to skip a run. In honor (?) of my sore calf, I’m devoting this post to stories/ideas/fragments of thought about the calf.

one: Thomas Gardner in Poverty Creek Journal

My right calf is still a little stiff from where I straned it last week doing mile repeats in the cold. Just enough to not let me out of my body (3)

and

Struggling with my calf again this morning. A dull ache about half a mile into the run, as if my body were no longer my own, no longer transparent. Each step is a reminder of some uneasiness I can’t quite locate (8).

two: stretching advice from Runner’s World

Before my left calf started hurting, I had been concerned about my left foot. It didn’t really hurt; it just felt weird. Are the pains connected? Probably. Better do these stretches so I can put my best foot forward.

  • Straight-leg calf stretch
  • Bent-leg calf stretch
  • Calf rolling
  • Foot extensions
  • Eccentric calf raises
  • Jump squats

three: a charlie horse from hell, a ghost story

At the end of a 2 mile swim, back and forth across Lake Nokomis, I placed my right foot down in the shallow water and experienced a charlie horse from hell. My right calf knotted up so painfully that I began to yell out. I dropped down in the water, trying not to panic, and frantically shook my leg, hoping to loosen the knot. It didn’t take that long to loosen it, but long enough to disorient me so much that I dropped (and lost) my favorite goggles, long enough to make my calf ache for weeks and not feel quite right for a year and long enough to make me feel perpetually terrified of my calf and the excruciating pain it could cause.

That calf pain still haunts me. I’m not really sure how much pain I can take; I did give birth to both of my kids without any drugs so I must be able to tolerate a reasonable amount. But I’m scared of that pain. The threat of it often hovers there, subtly shaping my workouts. Whenever my calf feels strange, during a swim across the lake or while doing a hard run, I wonder, is it coming for me again?