Originally posted on: December 21, 2014
This has been a year where I learned a lot about who I am both as a person and as a runner. I learned some painful lessons and I learned some things that I believe I will carry with me for a long, long time.
Let’s get right to it.
I love running with Bennie
Back in May, I decided that I would start to run with our Jack Russell Terrier - Bennie.
Coach Bennie has pushed me, forced me and pulled me to run more, run faster and smile more than I can remember at any time in my running. He is a pain in the ass to run with, but at the same time, I can't imagine running without him.
I am a shoe geek.
Yeah this is not news and I already knew this, but…well this year just proved it more than any other. I fit in quite well with the Running Shoe Geek Facebook Group and while I may not have had the most shoes, I think I more than upheld the ideals of being a member of the Group.
I owned and ran in more than 20 different pair of running shoes. No I didn’t like all of them, some I hated, some were meh and some did well by me. However, there were none that just stood out and made me go - I LOVE these shoes, you can read all about it here. Which means that I am still searching for the running shoes that work best for me.
Will I find the shoes that I love in 2015 - I sure as hell hope so, but sometimes I think that the search is part of the fun. However, due to some decisions and things that I have finally figured out, I think that finding them is closer than it has been.
I am not an élite athlete
That is not news to anyone, especially me.
No, I don’t have delusions of grandeur or unrealistic expectations of my running or my ability to run. As much as I would love to run like I did when I was in my 20’s or better - I will never run that fast or far ever again. I am what I am - an old fart, just trying to keep running the best I can.
Nowadays, I usually end up somewhere between 6:40 to 7:20 per mile pace, for a 5K to 10K. It all depends on the course, weather and my current injury status (which seems to always be something I am fighting/battling/rehabbing or healing).
I do know and accept that where I place in a race depends more on who else shows up, than how fast I am. Although I do attempt to compete in my age group and open categories, age and accumulated injuries do affect what I am able to do.
Could I get faster, sure we can all get a little faster, but I would have to get a coach, change some of my lifestyle, do strength work - basically become a professional runner, without the ability or paycheck. :-).
That is not reality and I know that the clock is running against me - that being closer to 60 than 50 thing. At this point the drive for faster is not as overriding a goal as just keeping what I got, without getting injured as often.
I am more of 5K to 10K runner
I also realize that I am one of those runners who quickly gets slower as the distance increases.
It is a combo of my not liking to run fast for long distances (the long hurt just doesn’t appeal to me - never has) and my body just doesn’t hold up that well to higher mileage training.
Which means that I need to focus on my strengths and not worry about that always wanting to run longer thing or needing to continue to chase that BQ dream from my childhood.
Since 2011, I have attempted to refine, ah hell...change how I run and to become more of a midfoot striker.
Like many others, I got caught up in the “Born to Run” hoopla, minimalism, you can run better: Natural Running, Pose Method, Chi Running and all those other methodologies that emphasize how to run right, land with less stress to the body, don’t heel strike and promise or at least lead me to believe that their “methods”, will make me faster and run with fewer injuries.
During those years, I worked hard at doing the “right” things, which resulted in some improvement to my mechanics. Yeah, I know that I run a bit more efficiently than I did in 2011, but when it comes down to it, all the advice, book learning and video “instruction” of/by today’s “experts” didn’t change anything all that much.
Yep, I still heel strike.
No huge changes there and yes, I still get injured, at about the same rate as I did before I attempted to change how I run with all the “help” of the experts.
So, unless things change dramatically, I am just going to focus on running, putting in good miles and not worry about my form, mechanics or where my foot lands when I run.
Which means that when I choose a running shoe, it needs to be able to handle a runner who heel strikes, has smooth heel-to-toe transition, is quiet and doesn’t get in the way of how I run. I have a feeling that a couple of my old running shoe brands will be seeing more of me again.
I love the online running community
Let me clarify that a little.
Yep, I love most of the online running community. A very small minority out there piss me off, with their holier than thou attitude, super competitive cut throatiness or general negativity that seems to permeate their comments and participation in our community - but hey that is real life too, so I am not surprised to find them here. Luckily they are few and far between, but are a pain-in the ass when you find them or should I say they find you.
I know that am not a big deal, big wheel or anything else and do not want to be. I am very comfortable with the small niche I am settling into. I am simply Harold, a guy from Central Maine who loves to run and shares way too much of what he is doing with his running online.
Does this mean I am going to share less - no. It is my blog and I share what I want on social media - that is my choice, if someone chooses to read it - that is their choice.
However, I will not get sucked into the negativity or deal with the trolls that pounce on so many others. I have learned the hard way, not to feed them and delete anything they say from my blog and quickly block them on my social media sites.
Social media is great as long as you know your limits, are honest in what you are sharing, act respectfully to others and remember that whatever you write is there forever - you will be fine.
I am much more comfortable with my social media presence, since I hit re-set again in September.
The reality is that
I have learned a lot about me as a runner, where I want my running and participation in the online running community to go in the future.
Hell, I still want to run fast or at least as fast as I can for as long as I can.
It also means that instead of focusing on the running movement/idea or bandwagon of the moment, I will look at it, see if it fits where I want to go, but keep moving forward in my own way.
I am officially off the need to change my running form bandwagon and instead am just focusing on running the way that I run - for better or for worse. I have feeling that my body will figure out what I am supposed to do, in the most efficient way it can. If not, well I will just keep on putting one foot in front of the other and I ain't going to worry too much about it either way.
Oh I plan to keep searching for that elusive “super” shoe and will probably try way too many between now and 2016, but that is part of the fun of being a running shoe geek, but at least I have narrowed what I am looking for a little more. We will see.
Sometimes...I wonder what I could do if I remained uninjured and could run pain-free for 6 months or so - it ain’t happening, so dreaming or thinking about it, won’t do a damn bit of good, but still…I wonder and honestly it would be nice if it ever happened.
However, coach Bennie will be there and continue to ensure that I keep running and if he has anything to do with it - improving.
Yep, I have learned a lot this year and thank you for taking the time to read my meandering thoughts.