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!


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.


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 thoughts on “Running is Amazing Because it is So Easy to Improve

  1. 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.


  2. Whatever that picture is at the top of your 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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). :-)

  5. Pingback: A Pumpkin-Filled Halloween | A Bacon-Wrapped Life

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