Simplicity and a change of pace are the first couple things that come to mind when I sit down to write about my introduction to running. I have some previous running experience, but there was something new and different about putting on a pair of shoes and working my way thru the woods by foot that was a bit freeing. No shifting gears, no hitting the brakes, no chain lube, no helmet and no gloves. I love riding my bike, but I can’t help but appreciate the simplicity of the run.
There will for sure be more running reports and article in the future from this guy, but I wanted to start off with giving you a little bit of background on my running experience. I am not completely new to running. I just haven’t done a whole lot of it lately and it has been a long time since I did it regulary. Anyways, I’ll walk through some of my background in regards to running, dive into how it fits into my current goals, the running I have been doing the past several weeks and then close out with some potential events for next year.
My Previous Introduction To Running
My Early Years of Running
I am not new to running at all… We had a small Cross Country Club my freshman or sophmore year of High School. An actual team was formed my senior year, that I joined a little late, but still had plenty of time to run at least a handful of races. I wasn’t real fast, but I wasn’t slow either. I remember my fastest time being around 19:30, but I think it was rare for me to break the 20 minute mark. That’s faster than I can run now, but I remember the fast guys on the team being at a whole different level.
I was also a wrestler for 10 years. I started wrestling in 2nd grade and wrestled all through High School. Needless to say, there was a lot of running involved for conditioning and the weight cutting during the High School Years. After High School, I didn’t do any running. I mountain biked a fair amount while going to college and even entered a few sport class races in those years. The year after college I started doing some running again for a couple months, because I had signed up for an adventure triathlon and the Flint Crim. This was back in 2002, just to give you a bit of timeline reference.
The adventure tri had a 7 mile orienteering run in it and the Flint Crim was 10 miles, if I am remembering correctly. Anyways, I did some road running a couple times a week to prepare for the both and I think my road runs were up to around 8 miles. I had some bad knee pains during those times and was even wearing a brace on my knee when I was running. I think the issue was that I never ramped up. I jumped into the 5 to 8 mile distance right away and it had been 5 years since doing any regular running.
At anyrate, the knee issue worked itself out and I did the adventure tri without any major issues and then I pretty much stopped running after that. The Crim was still ahead, but my wife and I were getting married and I was also transitioning to a new job function at work. Life was starting to get busy while interests and priorities were changing.
The Flint Crim came up about a month and a half later and I don’t remember it going very well. I think I was somewhere around the hour and a half mark to finish. That really wasn’t a bad time in my opinion. However, I remember it hurting and I really struggled the last couple miles. But that’s what happens if you don’t prepare yourself well. Anyways, I don’t think I ran again after that, nor did I ride my bike. Aside from an occasional ride or half hearted attempt at getting in shape again, I pretty much hung up about any type of exercise activity for the next 10 years
Another Introduction To Running
Fast forward to 2012 when I made big gains in getting back in shape toward the end of the summer… I was getting back on the bike occasionally, but I realized I could run again. I had started running a few times a week in October and then ran a small 5k trail race at a local farm. I think I took 4th or 5th place and ran a time around 24 minutes. Winter was setting in here in Minnesota and the running kind of stopped after that. I think it was the next winter that I did some running on the treadmill, but once summer came it was pretty much biking.
There has been the occasional run around the neighborhood and a few lunch runs at work in the past, but nothing with any intent on getting into running. If you look at what I have been doing here lateley, it probably still appears as dabbling yet. That is a bit purposeful as I have learned some things the past couple years and I am going to take this running thing with baby steps and work my way into it, at least for this fall.
The baby steps thing might seem laughable when you get near the end of this article and I talk about a couple running events that I am interested in for next year. Regardless, I am going to ease the miles up as I feel comfortable. If I don’t work myself up to the events that I am interested in, that is quite ok as I will still be better off than not doing any running at all. I guess if you miss an outlandish goal, you still end up in a pretty damn good place.
How Does Running Fit Into My Goals?
My goal has nothing to do with becoming the fastest mountain biker out there or trying to become a professional mountain biker. My long term goal is to have all around extreme amounts of fitness to enjoy and be competitive for my age group in a vast amount of activities. I would also like to learn how to swim and ski. I know that I may be casting a fairly large net and that could hinder performance in one specific area in the long term. I am ok with that. At the end of the day, I just like testing and challenging myself and what greater way to do it than to cast a large net and see where I stand across the board.
Why Trail Running Over Road Running?
I guess I like the dirt. I think it goes deeper than that though. Just like I don’t care for riding the shoulders of roads as cars go zipping by, I don’t really like running like that either. The paved rail trail even becomes boring. I prefer trail riding because it forces me to not think about anything else as I have to stay focused on the trail. I think this carries over into running as well.
Running on the trail has kept me focused on where my foot is going to land, what might be under those leaves and keeping my footing on loose rocks. Meditation seems to be a big topic of discussion on the interwebs today, which I have tried and failed. I realized mediation can happen in a variety of ways and my meditation or freeing of the mind happens when I am on my bike in the trails. I am not sure if that is actually meditation, but I like how it feels and I think this can carry over to the running.
All that being said… I probably won’t be able to get away from some road running. Just like mountain biking, I won’t always have the time to head to a trail and will have to just throw the shoes on and head out my front door. Plus, a road marathon has always been on my bucket list and I’ll have to do some heavy road running at some point if I want to check a marathon off the list.
How Will I Fit The Running In With Biking?
I am still figuring this one out. That being said I have some visions of how I think it might work. I want to do long distance in both. Right now I am not concerned with duathlons or triathlons, so I am not worried about the ability of going right from one activity to the next. That being said, it usually makes sense from a time perspective to combine the 2 activities. As my distance increases on foot, I will probably have to be more methodical about planning the long riding and running days apart.
What Running Have I Been Doing?
I did include my mileage and time in my October Recap that went out to Endurance Path e-mail subscribers, but here is what I have done sine the Marji Gesick 100 mountain bike race. Keep in mind, I have been dancing between recovering from the Marji Gesick and trying to take a little bit of a break before the fat bike season kicks in.
Mileage: 43.7 miles
Hours: 8 hrs and 38 min
This really includes a mix of any type of running, a couple of hikes and a few incline treadmill walks. I’ve only done one paved surface run and that was this past week. I figured I wanted to spend as much time as I could on uneven surfaces before the snow came in and I was forced to my neighborhood streets or the treadmill. As far as the types of trails go, their were a couple runs with some short elevation changes and switchbacks that were very slow paced and then a fair amount of wider grassy or gravel ski path type of trails. I even got out for a short night run after one of my bike rides. However, the cummulative mileage and time is not real significant yet in my opinion. However, I have worked up to a 4+ mile cross country run and a 6 mile run this past week on asphalt.
Running a marathon has been on the bucket list and seems like a logical event for a runner’s bucket list. That being said, I am way more intrigued by running trails versus pavement. I also feel like there might be more adventure in a rugged trail run, which fits my interests more. At any rate, here is what I currently have in mind in my attempt to dive right in next year.
Superior Spring Trail Race
The timing of mid May seems to be good for this race. I would the 25k distance vs the 50k distance. As of right now, I am not planning to do any big endurance mountain bike races this coming spring and doing a big trail run in May still gives me enough time to recover for any endurance mountain bike races that I might attempt in the June/July time frame.
For those that follow my mountain bike reports… No worries, I plan to do some fat bike racing and may hit a couple early season XC distance races in the spring. I am not a big fan of lap races, but I would still like to get a little more experience in some closer wheel to wheel racing.
Sasquatch Dash Series
This is a series put on by the folks at Cyclova XC in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. I doubt I would run all of them, but I’d like to hit one or 2 of them if I can fit them in the schedule. I think they start off in low mileage at the beginning of the year and build up toward the end. I followed the events on Facebook this past year and seems like a lot of fun was had.
If all is going well, then maybe I could find a marathon to do in the fall. I am planning to do the Marji Gesick 100 mountain bike race again near the end of September, so a Marathon near the end of October or beginning of November might fit ok. I will play all of this by ear though. I might be more interested in another trail run instead, but I am curious about a Marathon distance on the road. It just seems like something that has to be done at some point. However, if my body is needing a break come fall, then this is not going to happen.
Where I Take Running From Here
Like I said, I will ease into it and run to how I feel while keeping some goals in mind for a trail run of some significant distance in the spring. Even if I have to hike some of it, I think it will be a good experience. I am not going to dive in to pushing the run faster than my knees and other joints can adapt. I have to keep this in mind, especially with the knee pain I experienced while running 15 years ago and then with a couple of the knee issues I had on the bike this past year.
Patience is key in almost everything and as I get a little older, the lessons of life sink in a little deeper and I feel I have a bit more control or at least some methodical and objective thinking to my thought process. Anyways, I know this isn’t a typical training report. It was more of an update or follow up to my interest in running. I’ll circle back later with training reports on my running progress. For now, I am just trying to get a variety of base running miles in. For now, I feel good about it and I am looking forward to adding running to my quiver of athletic disciplines.