Thursday, August 2, 2007

0 Run 2, Week 2 (CT5K): My Adventures in Night Running


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Tonight I started my workout in almost pitch blackness. I could barely see 2 feet in front of me. Of course, it was my own bleepin' fault, because I'd spent all day cooking, fixing computer problems, & doing things around the house. So, by the time I made it out of the house for my workout, it was well after 9 pm. (And I hadn't even eaten dinner yet at that that point; I was too busy preparing it for a good bit of the day! See my other blog, Cook. Eat. Drink. Blog. for those details.)

Part of the reason I run so late in the evening is that it's so flippin' hot during the day. Not to mention that I've become accustomed to running later in the evening when I'm in the city. However, the rub is that, while I'm at my parents', I keep forgetting that it's not as convenient doing night running in rural areas as it is in the city, where there are artificial lights to extend your running "time frame." Out here at my parents' house, there are hardly any street lights. When it gets dark, you can see a few house lights and the stars, and that's about it. Kind of nice actually if you're outside & want to appreciate the beauty of the night sky without any artificial interference, but not so nice if you need to run. ;-)

I was a bit worried that I wouldn't regain my energy by the time my workout rolled around. So that's another reason I waited so long: I was pretty beat from all the activity earlier in the day. This morning, we got up early in the morning to visit the Farmer's Market. It was a lot of fun, but all the same, getting up that early felt like a shock to the system, since for most of this week, I'd been used to lazing around in bed until 9:30/10 am. To compound the situation, I'd been going like the energizer bunny pretty much all day, doing various activities, and wasn't exactly feeling peppy. So I waited to recharge & regain my mojo. It helped some.

Tonight I ran around the university campus grounds, near the downtown area, because I knew there'd be street lights. It was the only way I was able to see during my run. It took a few minutes of walking in the dark to get to the well-lit areas so I could start my run & also took an extra 10-15 minutes of walking to get home, but it was worth it to not trip over my face in the darkness!

I felt pretty good about my running performance tonight, especially taking into consideration my level of fatigue throughout the day. I added two extra interval sets of running & walking (i.e., I hit rewind twice on my iPod to backup to the previous & final running interval) to challenge myself more and also to make the run in the dark go faster! I incorporated some hill workouts into the program (around the university & up hill nearing my parents' place). I wasn't running lightening fast, but all the same, I did push myself to try to run faster. I kept saying to myself silently, "Is this all you've got left? I think you can go a little faster!" I was getting progressively faster, but definitely not breaking any PRs. ;-) All the same, I was curious to see what I had left in me after such a busy day. Turns out I did have something left to give! ;-)

At the moment, my body isn't feeling sore, although I was certainly feeling a tightness in my calf muscles about half-way through the workout. This feeling thankfully eased off as I kept running. My breathing did become labored as I did the hill workouts, which is to be expected, and also during the final home stretch when my efforts started to catch up with me.

So far, I find that my primary challenges during these CT5K workouts are to regulate my breathing and all the while, maintain focus on my running form. It's all too easy for form to get sloppy, especially as a person tires towards the end of their run. So, I find it helps to concentrate on what I call a "running mantra." This is something I say to myself over and over, especially when I'm experiencing a challenging stretch or need to refocus on my form. Basically mine is "Long, strong, stretch, stride." I say this silently to myself, and focus on elongating my stride and getting maximum power from my arms. I find that saying this mantra to myself helps me visualize my form; my words reinforce the actions, and I become more conscious of how I am moving my arms, legs, etc., whether I am making heel or toe strikes, and how my hips are aligned. Basically, the machinations of the body during runing become a conscious motion.

Goodnight & Happy Trails!
-C

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