Sunday, January 22, 2012

One Heck of a Long Run

Weekends were made for long runs... although it was kind of hard to convince myself of that last Sunday when it was 28 degrees and windy outside. Check out my awesome ninja-runner outfit:

You'll never see me coming!

Today was a little better--almost 50 degrees. The cloud cover and 10-20mph winds kept it from being ideal running weather, but if I waited for the weather to be perfect, I'd never get my miles in!

There is an 8 mile asphalt trail about a 20 minute drive from my house--the longest recreational trail in the city. It is one of my favorite places to run. The trail starts near downtown, then follows a creek out of town, winding through grassy meadows and horse pastures along the way. Each 0.2 mile is marked, so I don't have to necessarily bring my GPS. There are usual quite a few other runners as well as bikers and walkers taking advantage of the trail, so it doesn't feel too isolated.

This run was one of the best long runs I've ever had. I'm not 100% sure why I felt so good. My pre-run fuel was pretty average. I ate a slightly bigger lunch than usual about an hour before the run (sweet potato carrot ginger soup with Greek yogurt, cashews, bread, and half a Luna energy bar) but nothing unusual. Yesterday evening, I had a light dinner with half a bottle of beer (I'm not great at finishing beers!) and had an average night's sleep. 

I even had a pesky headache I had not been able to shake all day. My hip was still bothering me a lot during, but I made a conscious decision to try to run through it and subsequently didn't spend a lot of time thinking or worrying about it. Due to my own wishful thinking, I was slightly under-dressed for the weather, and consequently was a bit chilly the entire run.

Physically, the odds were in favor of me having an average long run (i.e. slow & steady, with hip soreness increasing with the miles). Instead, I ran 11 miles at a relatively fast pace for me. Even at around miles 8 and 9, I still had pep in my step and could crank out 9:20-10:00 miles without nearly as much effort as they normally would have taken at that distance.

Given that not too much of the physical aspects of the run were much different than previous ones, I have to think that the improvement was psychological. On Saturday morning, the chiropractor I saw (more on this another post) determined with an x-ray that my legs do not appear to be different in length. I have thought for a while that a leg length discrepancy might be the cause of my hip discomfort, and so it was a huge mental relief to find out that wasn't the case.

Knowing that it wasn't an innate skeletal issue felt very freeing, and I felt I didn't need to be as cautious with each step. And you know what? Eventually the hip soreness didn't bother me. I can't say for sure if it actually decreased or if I just became more ignorant of it (entirely possible), but a weight has been lifted. We'll see how sore I am tomorrow morning! Right now, I feel good though.

Also helpful was running (ha!) into the pastor of our church who is a frequent biker in the same trail. He rode alongside me for about half a mile, and hooked me up with some water, which really gave me a kick to keep going.

So I am pleased right now. I had a great long run, and feel really good right now. I worked through the hip discomfort and ran strong and fast (for me!). Feelings like this remind me of why I run--because it feels so darn good.

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