From the Middle of the Pack

It's been a very long time since I last wrote on this blog. I cannot say how busy and nuts my life has been the last few months. But through it all my family is doing well and, most importantly, I have my health. So when I got myself ready to begin training for a marathon in the spring, I bought a new pair of sneakers and began taking my lunches on the road - literally. I was surprised to find that after months of not running regularly, it all came back rather quickly and effortlessly. I began posting statuses on Facebook about it and an old friend took notice. He's a cyclist and was inspired by my posts and sought my advice on running.

Now, I am no expert at running, and do not advertise myself to be, but the exercise of trying to explain what I do was very interesting and led to the following. It's nothing that should be published or sold, but nevertheless it sort of embodies my running and workout philosophies, which again are personal and I humbly share with the world tonight.

1) Listen to your body.
If you are injured, do not run. If you are tired, take a rest day. There's always tomorrow, and the benefits of running are measured in weeks, months and years and not day-to-day.

Your cardio will be fine, but your muscles and joints will need time to acclimate to the new repetitive mechanics or running. If you do too much too soon, injuries are almost always inevitable - tendinitis especially. I recommend every other day to start, with a longer run some time during my week. I found that I got faster when I went to an every other day from doing 6 days straight. I needed to give my body time to recover and rest.

2) It's personal.
Run at your pace. If 15 mins is what you can do, then that's what you can do. Own it, it's yours. Build upon it when you feel ready. If you pushed too hard, you will know it, and do a recovery run the following day to keep you positive. Experts recommend not building more than 5-10% of your weekly mileage the following week.

3) It's an art.
Run relaxed and fluid and search for your "cruise control" where you feel like you could go on forever without too much more effort - this is kind of the "zen of running" for me. It's rhythmic and mediative. Since you are also a musician, this is the "harmonic" element. Or for sports enthusiasts, this is often called the "zone." Inevitably, this state of mind will bring stronger performance and healthier running.

4) Sneaks vs. Wheels
When I took up cycling I felt like a fish out of water and, more importantly, my ASS hurt! Much like your adjustment to running, I found myself humbled by guys leaving me in their wakes or waiting for me on a pitifully low grade climb.

All of my cycling buds told me that because I'm a runner, it would come easier. However, I'm still learning how to fuel, measure my effort and feel confident in the saddle.

I think in terms of scales. I immediately tried to gauge effort by attempting to evaluate what I could equate my rides to in running terms. Combining time and effort and not distance obviously - although that was a starting point. So for me - and this could be different for you - I look at a 6 mile run (roughly an hour of effort) equal to 26 mile ride (90 mins of effort), or a half marathon (two hours or slightly less of effort) equal to a 52 mile ride (3+ hours of effort).

So you can kind of see what I'm getting at and may reverse it for running.

5) Goals and inspirations.
At the end of the day, just have fun with it, but signing up for a local 5k (a turkey trot is a great way to start). Organized races are fun, there's lots of positive energy and can keep you going with a purpose in your training.

Having said that, I try to keep my eye on the "real" prize, and that's living longer and stronger.

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