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Run 2, Week 5 (BTHR): You Can't Judge Your Pace By How It Feels!

Posted Oct 18 2008 2:35pm



It was 37 degrees and cloudy when I went for my run today at 5:15 pm. On the schedule was 40 minutes of running at a moderate pace. I did 5 laps (or 3.7 miles) in 43:20 minutes, or a 11:42 minute mile pace.

At the 4 lap-marker (2.96 miles), I believe I'd clocked roughly 34 minutes and a certain number of seconds that I can't seem to recall! (Depending of whether the number of seconds were on lower or higher end of the scale, I estimate that my pace at the 4-lap marker could've been anywhere from an 11:29 minute to an 11:44 minute mile pace.)

It's funny because I thought that the last 2 laps (i.e., laps 4 & 5) felt faster than the first few, but apparently they weren't really that much faster in reality. Sometimes the feel of a run doesn't correlate to one's actual pace!

Considering my "fast" pace of an 11:17 minute mile (or a total of 41:45 minutes) only a few days earlier, today's run, relatively speaking, could certainly be considered a more moderate pace. ;-) OK, well maybe that's being too generous; the run was a rather glacial pace compared to what I've been clocking for my most recent 3 & 3.7 mile paces, but in terms of my overall times of the previous week or two, it was only a minute to a minute & a half slower from what I've been doing thus far for the 3.7 mile distance. As a relative comparison in the latter terms, it's really not that much slower. ;-)

Still, I always marvel at how much difference an extra minute or two in total running time can make to one's pace! I mean, from a purely mathematical viewpoint, the calculations are hardly surprising. However, from a physical standpoint, the translation of the overall times into paces as a factor of physical exertion & other factors (the weather, the wind, the running course, one's daily mental & physical condition, etc.) still manages to astonish me. Sometimes even the level of effort or the feel of one's run, doesn't always translate into what one expects either.

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Despite the heavy snowfall earlier in the week, the path was perfectly clear for today's run. There wasn't a patch of ice in sight either. That alone, made my run a very happy one indeed!

Also, it was a lot warmer than I'd expected: I wore the usual 3 layers on top, but was way too warm by the second lap, so I ended up removing my fleece neckwarmer, gloves, and outer zip parka. Ahhhh, much better!

I didn't take Ibuprofen or glucosamine chondroitin, but my knees felt surprisingly good after the run. I think that finally, my moderate exercise practices are beginning to pay dividends! 8-)

Speaking of which, I read something recently somewhere that mentioned how progressive, gradual usage of the joints can actually strengthen them over time, so maybe that's what's going on with my body. As I'm giving myself adequately recovery time, perhaps the joints and surrounding supportive muscles are actually getting stronger & improving over time.

I realize that this is in direct contrast to the usual conventional fear-mongering (I won't call it "wisdom" because I don't believe that would be an accurate word to describe it!) that presupposes that somehow running "damages" the joints "over time." I think what's really going on here, if we get right down to it, is that this is a gross overgeneralization, and seems to heavily rely on lopsided data accumulated from the practices of overzealous exercisers/runners.

To these sadly misguided people I say this: How about let's not just dwell on the supposed/perceived "down sides" of the sport, and instead, think of ways to deal with these issues?! When someone keeps mentioning "problems," I like to say "well, how about thinking about answers!" If you're always looking for problems, your mind is mentally invested in staying in the realm of problems. You've already accepted your plight. However, on the other hand, if you see that what you formerly perceived as a "problem" can be an opportunity to grow, it then becomes a challenge. True, it's harder to challenge your brain think of solutions, but isn't that where you really want to go anyhow? What's that expression, life is really 95% what you make of it (i.e. how you respond), right?! So let's fight that urge, both internally & externally, so we can keep moving forward. And I mean that both figuratively and literally.

So, yes, I really want to prove all of those worry-warts wrong!!!! ;-) I think when you exercise intelligently, and learn from your past mistakes, you are making a new path for yourself. Many of us just need to retrain our brains, consider new ways of being & doing, and retool our approach to exercise. After all, sports aren't just for your body. They are a chance for us to use our brains to their utmost capabilities, not only to train in a smart way and listen to our bodies, (and to learn from past mistakes & avoid repeating them!), but as a tool for improving our lives and the lives of others around us.
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