Running is Amazing Because it is So Easy to Improve

So much to post about and really no time at all! I just uploaded all my Seattle pictures but I will have to get to that later this week. Or next. For now, I will leave you with a little food porn from my trip:

French toast baked in pumpkin

I will get into more detail when I write my Seattle post!

Anyway.

What is amazing about running is how easy it is to improve.

Let me start from the beginning of my story.

I had mistakenly assumed that after my October 25 5 mile race, my outdoor running days for 2009 were over. But then I went to Seattle and the weather was gorgeous. We took the pup to Green Lake and I ran the 2.8ish mile loop. My stomach was bad — I had eaten breakfast 6 hours earlier — so I had to walk a bit, but overall it was a beautiful run. At the end I met up with my brother, Mallory and Santana and I took Santana’s leash and we even went on a little confusing (for pup) run together!

Then I came back to NYC and found myself waking up twice before work to run in the 44 degree weather. And I didn’t even feel that cold! I did about 3.5 miles both times and decided I could keep this up until the weather hit the 30s.

This past Sunday was an unseasonably warm day and with temperatures reaching 65, the boy and I had to go for a run. The plan was 5 miles, which is a bit longer than the boy’s usual distance but I wanted to keep my mileage up in preparation for our 4 mile race on November 22.

I took the boy into a section of Riverside Park that is gorgeous in the fall! We ran past the point where I typically turn around for 5 miles and kept going until we reached tennis courts at 119th street where we turned around to come back. That was the 3 mile point! At this time, the boy went off ahead of me since I slow him down, and we both started on the 3 miles back home.

The longest I ever ran before this was 5 miles and both times my knee was killing me towards the end, so I was a little nervous about this. I had been feeling well during this run; all I had to eat was a green juice and while I did get a right ribcage cramp, I was able to battle it with my breathing. The first 3 miles went quickly since I was talking to the boy and watching a stream of people dressed in purple doing a walk for Pancreatic Cancer.

The next 3 miles ended up being really great! I felt strong, my music was great (testing out my next race playlist) and once I hit 5 miles I couldn’t stop smiling knowing I was PDRing (and feeling fantastic!) the entire time. When my Polar hit 6 miles I stopped, with a time of 1:02:17! I ran 6 miles! I ran for an hour!

I came home, ate and napped for 2 hours. At night we went to the most incredible dinner at Blue Hill, but I’ll save that experience for another post.

Stats:

Distance: 6 mi
Time: 1:02:17
Avg pace: 10:20
Max pace: 4:11 (that can’t be right)
Avg HR: 170
Max HR: 187

I was so happy to have run 6 miles for the first time in my life. It is crazy how just a few months ago I could barely run for 20 minutes and I proclaimed that running is not for me. Even more crazy is that today was another beautiful, warm day in New York City and I decided to go for another run.

I wasn’t sure how my knees would handle this since they usually kill me after 4 miles, but yesterday they were fine throughout all 6 miles — no pain at all. I decided to just run 2 or 3 miles and if I am hurting, I’d stop. I set out and the first mile was definitely a challenge. My legs felt heavy, which I had never experienced before. Once I got past the first mile, they loosened up and I felt great. Whenever I glanced down at my Polar, my pace was faster than normal (around 9:30) but I felt comfortable. I decided to run down this little path that goes under a highway exit underpass to see where I’d end up.

When I came out on the other side, I had to do a double take. I felt like I was in Super Mario Brothers and went down one pipe and came out the other end in a totally different part of the level!

Super Mario pipe

I was on the same path as I started out, along the water, but I was on the OTHER side – a side I did not even know existed! A SUPER MARIO BROTHERS PIPE WARP RUN!

Okay, let me explain. I run along the water on the Hudson River Greenway, starting at 68th street. At around 84th street, there is no more river path; for the past year or so, they have been building an extension so that the path will go straight up and when it is complete, I won’t have to run up into the park. I can stay along the water.

So when I ran up into the park and took a path that brought me under the highway exit, I expected to be brought into the other side of the park where I run my longer runs. I usually get there by crossing a street but I thought this would take me underneath the crosswalk and back into the park so I wouldn’t have to cross any busy street.

Instead, I came up on the Hudson River Greenway — on the OTHER SIDE of it. It is right at the other point of the construction to extend it. This means that when they finish the extension, I would go straight along the water to the point I was currently at. Does this make sense? I feel like I need to draw a picture but I don’t have a scanner.

As I said, I never saw this path before; it was along the water, stunning views of the George Washington Bridge, but it felt strange. Like I was on my usual waterfront path, but in a section where nothing was recognizable. A section so close to me but I never knew existed. It was SO weird! I kept glancing backwards to try and make sense of how this perfect running path had been here all along and I never knew to take advantage of it.

Because I wanted to run along this path, I ended up running a little longer than planned. By the time I got to a section where the pavement became extra smooth and the designated area for those on feet became narrow, I was at the 2 mile mark. As much as I wanted to keep running and see how far up I could go, I knew it was time to turn back to make this a 4 mile run. I had to be careful on my knees after running 6 miles the day before!

Despite having ran 6 pain free miles the day before, I had another amazing, happy, pain free run once again. The 4 miles was not only easy, my legs were going so much faster than normal! My typical “comfortable pace” is around 10:15. Throughout this run I was running at 9:15 without trying and feeling very comfortable. For my last mile I knew I could really pick it up and for the first time in a long time, I did! I was no longer running to be comfortable, I was running to be STRONG. I sped up, my breathing picked up, and I finished my 4 miles in 38:26! Aaaahh! I felt perfect, not like I was about to die as I had in the past after pushing myself hard. And the time went so quickly, I ran a mile more than I had planned, much faster than I had planned. I wonder if I could do this for my race in a couple weeks?

Distance: 4 mi
Time: 38:26
Avg pace: 9:40
Max pace: 8:06
Avg HR: 174
Max HR: 192

This is a low max HR for me! Yet another way I know I am improving.

THIS is why running is so amazing. A few months ago I could barely run for 25 minutes. I almost gave up on it — and once proclaimed to the boy that running was not for me — and I am so glad I didn’t because it seriously is just SO easy to improve! I ran 6 miles on Sunday and then 4 on Monday with no problem at all! I used to get the worst knee, hip and abdominal pain within a few minutes of running; now they are all kept at bay. Not gone, but definitely improving. And on top of that, Monday’s run was so much faster than my usual runs — and it felt so natural! I am so sure that if I keep this up, I will become a faster runner and won’t have to “take it easy” during my races. It only took me a few months to improve this much, so imagine where I will be in a year?!

13 comments on Running is Amazing Because it is So Easy to Improve

  1. RunToTheFinish
    November 10, 2009 at 6:10 pm (5 years ago)

    I so agree, one reason I love running is because I can always get faster or go farther, it’s pretty incredible.

    Reply
  2. Kristacular
    November 10, 2009 at 6:41 pm (5 years ago)

    Funny. I just stumbled onto your blog from twitter via a @katheats post! How ironic is it that I just read 3 different Couch to 5K plans and am ready to start running! I’ve tried before, but never properly, I’ve always been a walker/gym goer. But running just looks so darn awesome, nature+exercise+immense calorie burn!!! amazing. So thanks :) more random inspiration along the way!

    Adding you to my google reader :) I’m @kristacular on twitter btw.

    krista:)

    Reply
  3. Bethany
    November 10, 2009 at 8:49 pm (5 years ago)

    I am starting to run, and definitely look forward to saying that I improved! As for your food porn, that looks delicious!!

    Reply
  4. Janna (Just Flourishing)
    November 10, 2009 at 9:55 pm (5 years ago)

    Whatever that picture is at the top of your post..it looks crazy good!

    Congrats on running 6 miles. It’s quite amazing how much you can improve in running if you just keep at it. When I started running I could only run for 15 minutes! I would go with my best friend for runs and would be out of breath so quickly and she would have to go ahead of me. But I kept at it and eventually I was running for an hour every time I went!

    Running is awesome!

    Reply
  5. Jen, a priorfatgirl
    November 10, 2009 at 9:57 pm (5 years ago)

    ah, so many stories you are teasing us with! I can’t wait to see the pictures from Seattle & dinner at Blue Hill!

    Reply
  6. Missy Maintains
    November 10, 2009 at 11:52 pm (5 years ago)

    Okay…that first picture…bring me some? Second, congrats on the run! It amazes me how much you are improving. I just read one of your comments from my blog last December and you wrote something about how you can’t go more than a few minutes without a cramp! It is definitely motivating to read this since I feel like I can’t run at all still! Next season haha.

    Reply
  7. Holly
    November 11, 2009 at 3:59 pm (5 years ago)

    Wow – that is a huge improvement!! You had to feel on top of the world…especially coming off of your injuries!

    I, too, love running for that reason. I actually get SO excited when I talk to someone about running, and they start by saying, “I used to HATE running, but now….” I don’t think everyone loves to run, but I think everyone can run and greatly improve (without injuries, of course). :-)

    Reply
  8. Tanya
    November 11, 2009 at 8:42 pm (5 years ago)

    Woohoo – congrats. I gotta say I hate running – but do it anyway because it just works to help keep me in shape better than anything else.

    Reply
  9. Amy
    November 11, 2009 at 11:03 pm (5 years ago)

    Hey there, new to your blog…

    Way to go on the running, and let me tell you, it DOES get easier! :)

    I look forward to reading more!

    Reply
  10. alyssa
    November 12, 2009 at 5:34 pm (5 years ago)

    i’m trying so hard to improve in the running area, but my stinkin’ knees are making it difficult! any advice?

    love your blog, ps!

    Reply
  11. Whole Body Love
    November 14, 2009 at 1:05 am (5 years ago)

    What an awesome post. Congrats!!! I am just getting back into running as well. I can’t imagine running 6 miles. Way to go!!

    Reply
  12. melissa
    November 14, 2009 at 11:54 am (5 years ago)

    I think is my favorite DSB post ever! You seem so happy, inspired and glowy! Congrats on your amazing running journey this year. excited for more food porn.

    Reply

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