As I mentioned in my previous entry, I've been taking cues from Ben O'Grady and incorporating a lot more running into my weekly routine. My strength training is almost nonexistent at this point, but it's entirely justified considering my current running ability and the intensity of the event for which I am preparing.
I have a bunch of data to share, and I'm pretty proud of my progress.
I've been going out for longer un-weighted runs simply to get a feel for the distance and I think it's paying off. Here is my run from this past Monday:
These data represent a run from my apartment to Jamaica Pond. I scouted the run on Google Maps before heading down there, and just made my way out. I didn't take exactly the route I planned in arriving to the Pond, but did eventually make it there. I felt light and strong for most of the run, and was just enjoying the exploration aspect of a new path. The Pond itself is about 2.6 miles from my apartment, and then about 1.5 miles around. I ran around the Pond, then made my way back up to my starting point with no walking breaks. I maintained a reasonably consistent pace with the exception of a few hiccups. 6.48 miles was also a distance record for me at the time, and I was quite happy about that.
Wednesday I went out and forged a new path north of my apartment, crossing the Charles. Here are the data from that run:
New distance record again! Almost seven miles now. This particular run felt more like an adventure than a workout. Rain was coming down hard that morning, and I was running muddy cracked-gravel paths along the banks of the Charles. I got a little turned around after finally finding a place to turn back towards my apartment, but my Forerunner has a Navigation feature that showed me an overhead view of my position relative to my starting point which helped me orient myself. From there it was simple to get home. No walking breaks this time, either. I do so enjoy running in the rain. My heart rate was significantly more controlled during this run, which is curious because I didn't feel particularly stable throughout. I ended feeling wiped out, but very accomplished.
And, finally, the data from this morning's run. Following Ben's advice I forewent my weight vest in favor of running with the weight in a backpack as we'll actually be doing in the challenge. Seems logical. I couldn't have known just how radically different it is.
Firstly, I was carrying more weight than the vest alone; the backpack itself containing the 20lb vest in addition to my hydration bladder in its own pack. I'd say I was carrying around 25 lbs.
As Ben mentioned, the weight sits completely differently on your body. Running with a vest - as it's evenly distributed weight over your torso and allows you to activate your spine in keeping a turning rhythm - feels easy compared to this. The backpack is not only heavy on the shoulders and compressing your back, but severely restricts movement of your torso when running. In addition to the restriction of movement the weight is concentrated behind you, rendering heelstriking a significantly more detrimental practice.
My backpack isn't built for this kind of use, either, so I was consistently adjusting straps and fiddling with zippers and the hydration tube while running. Not fun. My freaking iPod headphone cord was unruly, too, and wouldn't stay attached to my hip so I had to feel it tugging on my ears with every step. This latter concern, however, was easy enough to ignore considering the circumstances.
Here are the data from this morning's weighted pack run:
It was a spirit-crusher, but I survived. The mental game was intense and likely responsible for the majority of my inconsistency and the relatively short distance of the run. I'll be doing much more of this in the future.
I felt what I consider to be legitimate and unadulterated doubt in my ability to succeed at Goruck as a result of this run; hence "spirit-crusher". I need more of this, if only to prove to myself that I can get stronger and dismantle that ego barrier. Something that stands out is my outrageously high heart rate, especially during the middle portion of the run. My Forerunner was going crazy, warning me to chill out, and at the time I was not entirely resistant to the idea of slowing my pace. I did some walking during this run, but I never stopped. The peak around 23', and again at 35' represent walking or waiting at a traffic light. The huge plateau in my pace at the end is a period of time after I had finished running and was talking to a friend on the sidewalk as I was going back to my apartment.
I'm going to do A LOT more of this. Maybe 2 or 3 times a week, saving a long distance un-weighted run for the weekend. I think flipping the current setup would be the best way for me to get used to this style of running in a short time. I believe it's also worth noting that this was a solo run; I feel like had I been running with Pete or someone else who was also wearing a weighted pack it would have been much easier to persevere. Hopefully I'll get some of that in the next week or so.
I'm cautiously optimistic, but still very motivated.