Monday, May 30, 2005

Running to stand still

I went for a good long run this morning -- probably about 4 miles, based on the number of songs I listened to (12) and the pace at which I run (slowly). It was perfect running weather for me -- not too warm, with a very cool breeze off the ocean. And I've been running on the treadmill for so long now that the occasional outdoors run makes me feel like a superhero. It's supposed to be the other way around -- running outside is full of hills, variations in the pavement, cars crossing your path and (if you're me) a woman dangling a half-eaten whoopie pie under your nose, so theoretically it takes more stamina than the ceaseless drone of the treadmill.

But it's precisely those variations that make running outside so much easier for me. With so much to look at -- ok, it's mostly houses, but they're big, expensive waterfront houses, which are endlessly fascinating -- I can run much longer than I can on the treadmill at the gym, where the crossbar in the window pane is precisely at eye level and the motion of running makes it seem to jump with every step. Not to mention the boredom. Even with the best, most perfect music piped loud right into my brain, my treadmill runs are an exercise in mental trickery: I'll run for three more songs. I'll run until the woman on the elliptical is done. I'll run until... oh what the hell, I'll quit now.

The good thing about running outside, though, is that you have to get home somehow, and especially when it's a bit chilly, it's a lot quicker to get home by running, no matter how slowly.

All of this is prelude to my angst about the 10k I am theoretically training for. It's a big race -- started by Olympic marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson, with a field of 5,000, including some very famous Kenyans. Tons of people in the area run it, and it's a bit of a badge of honor to do so.

I ran it for the first time two years ago, which was a pretty big deal. I ran a 5k -- my first race ever, unless you count 7th grade track -- that June, after strictly following a training schedule I clipped out of Cooking Light. I did the same for the 10k that August. I was terrified about not being able to finish, so I took my training very seriously and did pretty well.

Last summer, I got a little cocky. I knew I was capable of finishing, even if I wasn't in tip-top shape. So I trained, but somewhat haphazardly. I didn't push myself to go out on hot days, and I didn't do well at all about racking up three to four runs a week. And when I ran the race on a muggy morning, it was not fun. I don't do well with humidity in the first place, so that, combined with lackluster training, made for a painful morning.

This year isn't shaping up much better, today's 4-miler notwithstanding. I've been averaging one to two runs a week, most of them wimpy, 2.5-milers on the treadmill. The race is exactly 10 weeks from yesterday -- which means it's time for me to get serious. I just dug out Running for Women, Samuelson's book, which includes a 10k training schedule for a novice runner. It's an 8-week program that starts out at 12 miles a week... meaning I need to be doing at least three solid runs a week in order even to be ready to start training.

So, today's task: Using ye olde iPod to make some good running mixes. I've been using shuffle within the alternative/punk category, which has yielded some decent mixes, but I need to be more strategic about this. Good thing I finally bought Nevermind on iTunes last week...

As an addendum, here's this morning's soundtrack:
1. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," Green Day, American Idiot
2. "Happy Town," The Replacements, All Shook Down
3. "Fantastic Planet of Love," Marshall Crenshaw, Life's Too Short
4. "Sinners and Their Repentance," Bob Mould, Workbook
5. "Spark," The Church, Starfish
6. "Cooksferry Queen," Richard Thompson, Live at the World Cafe, Vol. 10
7. "Someplace Where Love Can't Find Me," Marshall Crenshaw, Good Evening
8. (skipped) "Lost," The Church, Starfish
9. (skipped) "Don't Disappear Now," Marshall Crenshaw, Life's Too Short
10. "Johnny Sunshine," Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
11. "Lightnin' Hopkins," R.E.M., Document
12. "Gin," Amy Correia, Carnival Love
13. "House We Used to Live In," The Smithereens, Blown to Smithereens
14. "Lonely Lane," Hothouse Flowers, People