Sometime in February of this year I decided that I was going to run the Air Force Marathon. I then thought, “well, why not just make this the year of running?” So that’s what I’m doing this year, I’m running. Like any new endeavor I started with research and an assessment of fitness and gear.
Just Go. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always been pretty fit and was a decent runner in the military – consistently scoring in the tops of my age group – so just going felt pretty low risk. Admittedly, I was a bit weary given that I had tried to renew my running regimen several times after I left the military only to be consistently derailed by injuries. Nevertheless, I assumed that being 40 lbs lighter versus last year (and 10 lbs lighter than when I left the military) would help my joints a bit. So I started running three times a week on a basic 2 minutes walk / 1 min run tempo for 15 minutes. I did this for many weeks starting back in October, slowly building up endurance, distance, and total run time. I took careful notes and was extra conservative.
The Shoes. After reading Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Body and Born to Run by Christopher McDougall I became a full convert to minimalist running and was immediately ready to start running barefoot. I was ready for my body to remember how to run naturally, unimpeded by “stability” running shoes and running-store-recommended orthotics. I wanted to break my legs’ & feet’s dependence on over-weight, chunky running shoes and was ready to step out and run on my bare tootsies. Bring on the dog poop & mud! Fortunately, reason (aka my wife) prevailed and I decided (she decided) to slowly ease my way into lower drop running shoes. I ran on Nike Free Run’s for 2-3 months and then switched to even lower drop New Balance Minimus for 3 months – all orthotics free, all pain free. I’m now running on Skecher’s Go Run and I couldn’t be happier – a perfect blend of low drop and just enough cushion. The beautiful part – and key take-away – of using low drop running shoes is that I immediately feel the moment my stride or gait deviates from my naturally imbued running form. I’ve actually become a more efficient runner and feel as if my feet and ankles are stronger (if that’s even possible).
The Races. I’m currently signed up to race the Flying Pig 10K and the Air Force Marathon. I’m also planning on running the Summit Fest ½ Marathon but haven’t yet signed up since I still have to de-conflict summer family travel plans. Assuming my body holds up, I’d also like to run the Vegas Tough Mudder with my brother in October and then finish up the year with a few short races near Thanksgiving and over the Holidays. Some might argue that the running plan & race schedule seem a bit aggressive especially for one year and my beginner status. Perhaps, but I have run in the past and my build up & prep to this year started 6 months ago. I just wasn’t aware or thinking that I was going to make 2012 the year of running until a few weeks ago. I don’t plan everything. I often just go with what life presents me. In this case, it happens to be running.