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shadows of echoes of memories of songs
X miles
I ran this route at lunchtime and then spent the afternoon feeling all sleepy. We'd planned a 3-and-a-bit mile run, but our running guru changed the route really near the beginning (to avoid flooded paths, apparently) and from that point on nobody had a clue exactly how far we were running. I think that was deliberate on his part, actually, because if he'd told us he was increasing it to a nearly-4-mile run then we'd have whinged. Okay, I'd have whinged.

The exercise didn't seem to make any discernable difference to the ongoing stomach problems (about which more in another post if I can bear it), but it made me feel mentally better, so I think that's a win overall.

Running even shortish distances seems to have got a lot harder since I was actually doing 10k runs, though — so much so that I sometimes think "did I really do that?" and wonder if I just made it up, embellished the story in my mind until it became real. I know I did do it, but sometimes it feels like a fake memory. Maybe it's because the memory of pain is so unreal; the running in the past doesn't hurt, so when the running in the present does hurt I feel as though I'm backsliding, as though it's getting harder.

Admittedly I let the running lapse for a couple of months, which I think set me back a lot further than it would have done for someone with a higher baseline of fitness and/or running ability; but even given that, it seems to have taken months of doing 3–3.5 miles at lunchtimes before even that distance feels bearable. Half the time I end up getting a cripplingly painful stitch at around 1.5 miles and then having to walk so much of the remaining route that I just feel like a failure. Not good for the soul (though the fact that I'm getting fresh air and a screen-break means it's probably still a net benefit). Today was the first time for ages that it's felt manageable.

The main thing that's made it harder to get back in training, though, I think, is that it's not new this time. When we were building up the distance bit by bit (a 10% increase every week) it was new every time; every week I could say "this is the furthest I've ever run before", and the fact that I could do it at all was an achievement. Whereas now, because I've done it before, it feels like something I ought to be able to do; there's not so much sense of achievement if I do manage it, and much more sense of failure if I don't.

Nonetheless, I'm planning to do the Town & Gown again next year. When I finished it last year I was thinking "maybe next year a half-marathon"; I know that's not possible (or at least not sensible) now, so I'll settle for doing the same thing again. I think it'll be harder when I don't have the "first race ever" get-out, when I know that I've got a "personal best" time to beat (or not to beat). But I'm going to have a go anyway, and at least prove that I didn't just imagine it.

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arnhem From: arnhem Date: November 26th, 2008 09:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Stitches - there's several things to do:

a) try to spot patterns of food/liquid consumption in the couple of hours before running that trigger them.

b) if you spot a stitch coming on, deliberately drop your running speed to a "this is easy" rate, without actually stopping. But you have to spot it coming on for this to be really effective.

c) if your stitch is just under the ribs on the right hand side, it may be a breathing-in-sync-with-your-pacing thing. Basically, when the right hand leg/hip crunches the liver up into the diaphragm and this happens in sync with your breathing trying to push the diaphragm down, the diaphragm gets narked and starts whinging.

In theory, the trick here is to break up your breathing pattern, or switch sides (breathing out on the left foot? - now breathe out on the right foot), or slow your breathing rate down so that it hits alternate foot-strikes.

In practice, I find that if I start trying to think about breathing out of sync with my foot-strikes, my brain gives up completely at the complexity of it, and I'm lucky if I don't run into a lamp-post or tie my legs in a tangle and wind up in a heap on the floor. But it's a nice theory 8-)
monkeyhands From: monkeyhands Date: November 26th, 2008 11:32 am (UTC) (Link)

You've come a long way, baby

Whereas now, because I've done it before, it feels like something I ought to be able to do; there's not so much sense of achievement if I do manage it, and much more sense of failure if I don't.

That's it in a nutshell: the dilemma of getting good at something.
Your previous achievements and experience give you expectations, and they cloud the fun of throwing yourself into something new. You need a way of metaphorically looking back at the distance you've travelled since you started running and thinking "Wow." If you can't do that, you need a way of metaphorically discarding the baggage you've accumulated so you can look at each day's achievements and say "Wow."

This concludes today's sermon by Cary Tennis.
i_ludicrous From: i_ludicrous Date: November 26th, 2008 11:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Maybe the solution is to switch to something else fitness improving for a bit and build up that instead - if you're lucky this will make the running easier... (What I really mean is: come cycle some silly distances with me ;-))
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: November 26th, 2008 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you ever considered a triathlon? Does it sound like it would have more of (the things that you find delightful about running, he said, having deleted the dread word "fun") than just running? Alternatively, how about orienteering and/or at least the first day of its urban counterpart?
lnr From: lnr Date: November 26th, 2008 03:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's *exactly* how I've been feeling about cycling this year. A couple of years back we managed huge long distances, 50 miles became nearly normal after doing that or more 4 times in as many months, and 90 miles Oxford to Cambridge was like your 10K. This year I think our longest ride has been about 32 miles, and it feels completely *rubbish* by comparison, despite being hard work.

And somehow we've just been too shattered (or the weather's too miserable) to start trying to improve again, and a similar lack of motivation.
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