Since I began running nearly three years ago, almost all of my runs have been either extremely long or at a fast pace. In short, I have always pushed myself fairly hard. I’ve wanted to get stronger and faster, and I felt the best way to achieve that goal was to always finish a run thoroughly exhausted. I felt that if I could possibly complete another mile when I was done running, I hadn’t pushed myself hard enough!
Now I’ve reached a point in my brief running career where I feel like I’m fairly strong, and my speed isn’t too terribly bad either. The problem is, however, that in addition to decent strength and speed, a marathon runner also needs incredible endurance, and that’s the area I’m the weakest in. My weak final ten miles at the Twin Cities Marathon emphasized once again the fact that I don’t yet have the endurance necessary to be a marathon runner.
My friend Stacy gave me a pep talk after the Twin Cities Marathon, telling me not to give up my lofty dreams, but rather to thoroughly evaluate my current training plan and make changes to areas that seem to be not working. My friend Martin ran with me a month later and told me that my strength and speed were sufficient for a fast marathon, but that I needed to work on my endurance. He recommended slowing down most of my runs, and to instead run more often. I must admit that Martin’s advice seemed counterintuitive to my better judgment, but I respect his knowledge in this area, and nobody has more fun being active in a wide variety of endeavors than Martin, so I decided to give it a try!
Before I tried this new plan, I had never run more than four days in a row, and I always felt thoroughly exhausted afterwards. Today was my sixteenth day in a row running, and my body is starting to become accustomed to it. Besides feeling fresher each day, I’m also enjoying running like never before. I’m simply running for fun right now, and although I’m trying to keep my weekly miles up there, I’m not at all concerned about my times, and it takes a lot of pressure off.
Today was a gorgeous December day with no snow on the ground, so I decided to run outside on the Grand Forks Greenway. I don’t usually take my dog Maxie with me because quite frankly, she slows me down, and I don’t like being slowed down. Today I was feeling great and thought I would take her with me to see how it went. Well, she slowed me way down, but you know what, it was the most leisurely, relaxed run I can ever remember. I allowed her to mostly set the pace, and I simply enjoyed being outdoors. We even walked for a few short stretches, and had several more where I was barely jogging. The sun was shining, the air was warm, and all was well with the world: It was just a man and his dog!