Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gonna talk about running


And without pictures.

Running on trails in the dark is sort of mentally taxing.

I've been learning how to run from a barefoot book (more on that later), not really with the intention of running barefoot, but instead, with a goal of figuring out how to run so I enjoy it. The first "aha moment" is bent knees. But that super simple concept is a hard thing to translate to a learned, physical, muscle-memory thing. So the second "aha moment"came last week, as I recalled a passage in the book about thinking of your thighs like giant springs. For some reason, on about 33rd and Division at about 5:45 am on a random Tuesday morning, the spring-thing hit me like a ton of bricks and made the mental game much much easier.

Since then, I've had a handful of moments/experiences where I forget myself as I run: I relax, my breathing is just working, my pace is perfect, and I feel like I could run forever. It's a fine feeling.

So -- running on trails in the dark kind of gets in the way of that. To avoid stumbling and tripping, you've got to focus a lot of mental energy on the trail and where your feet are going to land. As the mornings get darker and darker, the tunnel of bouncing light you are chasing gets more intense and surreal and more mental energy goes into finding the right line.

So just as I hit my state of running nirvana this morning, I also relaxed my trail-watching and stumbled -- nearly tripping. This jammed me up. I couldn't get it back. I got tired and wanted to be done.

I love running on the trails, but I'm wondering if I need to wait until I can find, maintain, and re-capture that nirvana state more effortlessly... Or run in the afternoon where the dark isn't getting in the way. Or just evolve slowly and steadily to handle the dark trails...


Anonymous said...

I read a blog called Miss Zoot, she is a runner. Like a crazy marathoner kinda runner. She trail runs a lot and writes about how to do it. Maybe you could look at her info?


I thought of her since you tripped on the trails and she has talked about tripping off curbs and twisting ankles but she keeps running!


Anonymous said...

Hey John, kudos on your running efforts. My wife's attitude toward running really changed after reading the book Chi Running. She now enjoys running much more. You may want to check it out.

A couple of things that worked for me running-wise is:
1. I figured out that the time of day affects how much I enjoy a run. Usually, running in the cool morning after I hydrate a bit upon waking makes for a less stressful run for me. I can lose myself easier. The end of the day sometimes works, sometimes doesn't, depending on how worn out, hydrated, and stressed I am. Mid-day is pretty tough almost all of the time.

2. On rare occasions I've had the chance to run with a group of runners. I thought I'd hate it, but it actually was pretty cool, talking shop, the comradery, and a little incentive to run a little faster, get a little better, etc. It made me like the idea of being a runner and gave me something to shoot for.

3. Finding routes I like. Just like biking. I have routes for when I want to be out in nature, when I want to see street life, when I want some fun hills, etc. In other words, the routes I run have a big affect on whether I enjoy the run. As a side note, I figured out that I hate long, flat runs. So, I avoid these.

Good luck!
Lee in SF

Lurch said...

Bend knees?

That's just the tip I needed.


Hank Greer said...


Glad the book is working out for you. Experiencing that feeling of being able to run forever is awesome. Sounds like you're on the right track. Keep that upper body balanced and relaxed. Next thing you know you'll run ten miles but you won't feel like you did.