Running for It, Week 22: In which I wait for the other (running) shoe to drop

Okay, I’m clearly doing something wrong. How do I come to this conclusion? It’s not that difficult. For one thing, I’m just about always doing something wrong. It is, quite simply, my nature.

But the main reason I am all but certain that I’m screwing something up is that despite the crippling, debilitating heat and humidity, despite my post-vacation lethargy and depression, and despite the fact that I ran farther this week than I have ever run in a single week before… it went really well. So well, in fact, that I fully expect something to go horribly wrong during next week’s runs. (Maybe I will be hit by a meteorite, or my leg-bones will spontaneously shatter into dust for no good reason? Frankly, that’s the best-case scenario.)

That’s not to say it was pleasant, really. I know I’ve been totally whaling on this Zombie Horse, but can I just say–for the eight-zillionth time–that running in the summer absolutely sucks? It’s not enjoyable by any stretch of the imagination, unless you count the insane, exhausted relief I feel when I’m done. (I myself do not). These midweek runs–shortish though they may be at four, seven, and another four miles–are exercises in sheer misery. Every breath is a labor, every stride like pushing through thick, damp cloth. I know you’re supposed to hold your head high and watch the horizon as you run, but more often than not I find myself plodding through every step, eyes focused on the asphalt at my feet as though I’m not worthy to even attempt this monumental task. Hubris, it is! Man was not meant to run such distances! 

All that said, I don’t really have much to complain about. Yes, it was hot, but I had good running times, right at the pace I’m hoping for. And that 15-miler on Saturday? I can’t even process how well it went. Yeah, I was tired at the end of it, as you might expect, but I wasn’t just drained of energy and unable to walk. I actually think I might’ve been able to squeeze another mile or two out of it. (I didn’t try such a thing, though. I may be a weirdo, but I’m not stupid. Well, actually…)

I think the reason it went so according-to-plan is that I finally heeded the advice of Hal Higdon in regards to walking breaks. He’s all for them, urging his runners to walk through aid stations (or, in training runs, stopping every mile or so to take a drink and walk for a minute or so). What I’ve done in the past is run for as long as I possibly could, only falling into a walking break towards the end when I was too tired to go any further. My last couple of miles would always be so slow that it would drag my overall pace down. So, I thought: why not actually try it the way you’re supposed to do it?

And that’s what I did: At every mile marker (provided by my phone’s Runkeeper app) I would slow to a walk for about a minute, take a drink from my Camelbak, and once in a while have a few bites of dried fruit. And what do you know… even with the walking breaks, I had better time for my long run than I’ve had since Hospital Hill. Why, it seems that Mr. Higdon knows what he’s talking about, by gum! I was just sailing through those 15 miles, despite the sweat, despite a brief rainshower. It felt fantastic.

Probably around mile 13 or so is when I suspected that I had to be doing something wrong. Because not only did I do 15 miles–the farthest I have ever run at one time ever–but I did so without stopping to take a dump. Not even once.

Yeah. I’m scared, too.

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