Running to a Halt

As many of you know, I have been running since the beginning of 2010.  I have had some ups and downs as far as running, but for the most part: all has been good.  My last race was actually a 5K January 1st of 2011.  In that race, I ran my personal best of 23:11, which made me feel very good.  Before running this 5K, I had plans for running in a marathon in late March of this year.  I had been training since early December.  I would go and run after work, whether outside in the frigid cold, or inside on a treadmill, and get up early on the weekends to run long distances.  About two weeks ago, something in my brain seemed to turn off; I was no longer interested in running the marathon.  After going through eight weeks of training, I told myself: I’m just not ready.  Why was that?

Well, being that I just started running early last year, this was the first year that I have run in the winter.  Usually, when the temperatures drop below freezing, you’ll catch me bundled up in the house.  Due to my drive to run in a 26.2 race, I decided to suck it up and get the running shoes laced.  In order to be ready for the marathon in March, I would have to practice throughout the entire winter.

One major problem with running in the winter is the possible snowstorms that can occur, especially on the East Coast of the U.S..  Maryland was starting to get about 6-8 inches of snow with the possibility of ice.  This obviously made the trails impossible to run.  With the trails being impossible to run, I miss training days.  If I miss training days, I start to become less prepared and confident.  The less prepared and confident I feel, the lesser the possibility I am actually going to run the marathon.  You see where I’m getting at?

Another problem that halted me from running was the build-up of injuries.  For example, when I was running a 10-mile practice run, I developed a blister on my left foot.  This was pretty painful for a couple of days, and is hard to walk on.  I had already been dealing with a shin split from late last year which didn’t seem to get any better.  Even after healing the blister and the shin split, I still didn’t feel like that I could be at my best for the marathon.

As many postponed runs due to weather, injuries, and lack of interest, I decided to halt my training for the marathon.  It’s pretty hard, because in the back of your mind you’re saying, “I don’t want to be a quitter, I just can’t.”  I realize, however, that I still have plenty of time to run in a marathon.  I could possibly run in one this year, whenever the weather is much better.  I will still run in a 5K that I have planned for in March, but the 26.2 mile run will just have the wait another day.


Running: My New Passion


Asics GT-2150

The above image is a pair of Asics GT-2150 running shoes that I use for a new found passion of mines: running.  It’s kind of weird how I stumbled on the thought of running on a regular basis.  When I was young, I always loved to run.  I was always the one who loved to play childhood games such as “Catch One Catch All”, “Tag”, “Freeze”, and all of the similar activities.  Why?  Because I knew I had the speed to catch anyone; it was exciting at the time.  Even with my love for running, I never played any athletics during school.  Fast-forward five years later after school, and here I am running for fun and competitive purposes.

My itch for competitive running started back in March of this year.  A co-worker of mines told me about a 5K event (3.1 miles) that was going to occur in May.  I was pretty excited to run the race, so I decided to accept the invitation.  When I first started my training, a didn’t know a THING about how to train, where to train, how to properly condition my body, nothing.  I remember my first couple of practice sessions at a local race track:  I was running in Nike Air Forces (never a good idea for ANY type of run, in my opinion).  I could not even run 2 miles without having to stop and grab something to drink.

I knew I was better than this, so I decided to get some advice from past runners/books.  The first thing that I had to do was definitely get some running shoes.  Even before I bought my first running shoes, I had to determine my foot structure.  The “Wet Test” (where you wet your feet and place them on a heavy piece of paper, preferably cardboard) helped me determine my foot structure.  I bought my first ever pair of running shoes, Asics Gel 1120.  From there, I purchased better clothes for running (Under Armour, nothing else matters!).  From this point on, I took not only my upcoming 5K event, but my running training very serious.

I started running once a week.  After I was comfortable, I started running 3 times per week; getting better with each run.  I started to run at different places other than the track.  I first started running with headphones and iPod in order to allude the thought of heavy breathing and aches.  After a while, I left those same set of headphones and iPod in my closet in order to become a more focused runner.  I wanted to correct my breathing patterns, my running technique, and my body movements.  All of this is critical when running.

I ran my first ever 5K on May 1st.  My official time was 23:50 (average of 7:40 per mile), which used time-chip scoring.  I felt great not only finishing the event without stopping, I felt great with the results at hand.  The results can be attributed to increased and consistent practice, good sleep the night before, and a good balance breakfast beforehand.

After the event, I wanted to learn more on how to become a better runner.  I was in a used bookstore and I happened to find a book called The New York Road Runners Club Complete Book of Running by Fred Lebow, Gloria Averbuch, and friends. Even though this book was outdated by 15 years, this book helped me to build a foundation of what it takes to become a better runner overtime.  As I was reading this book, it talked about Marathon running.  Before this point, I had really no intentions on running a marathon (26.2 miles).  I thought there was NO way that I could ever run that long and still stay sane.  After I read this chapter, my thoughts changed drastically.  My goal is to now run in a marathon by March of next year.  It’s going to take an ample amount of training, preparation, studying, and patience.  I believe that I can get it done. I bought a more up-to-date book for my marathon goal, The Marathon Method: The 16-Week Training Program that Prepares You to Finish a Full or Half Marathon in Your Best Time by Tom Holland. To quote Kevin Garnett, “anything is possibleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”.  Well, maybe without the same emotional outburst as Kevin, but close.

Since my first 5K, I’ve bought improved running shoes (hence the photo at the top), gotten my body into better shape, became more conscious of possible dangers of improper training, and overall became more excited with each run.

I went from not being able to run 2 miles without stopping, to currently running a personal record of 8 miles.  With each experience, I get more confident in my ability to run efficiently.  The thought of running actually has me going to bed early on the weekends (I know, blasphemy!) in order to run the paved paths and dirt trails.  I ran another 5K in September, and I plan on running my first-ever 10K this weekend.  As a matter of fact, I just came back from running two miles as practice for the event!  I’ll tell you how it goes in a future blog post.