Runners often have different goals from each other, based on what type of runner they are, what kind of races, they’re training for, what weaknesses they’re trying to hammer out, what strengths they’re trying to build upon, and perhaps simply based on differences in attitude. Some people want to run faster, some longer, some want to run “stronger.” Generally speaking, I go for effortless.
Recreational running is, at least to a degree, supposed to be fun. For all the work put into the craft, most of us will never receive anything of intrinsic value for our efforts. To the contrary, you lose money to this hobby. If it’s not enjoyable, why run in the first place?
For that reason, my mantra is typically effortless. Running shouldn’t feel like a chore. If it does, you’re unlikely to become terribly good at it. To that end, training has made me happy lately. Faster, yes. More importantly, it feels easier to maintain a good clip.
The most recent speed workout was both my fastest and longest yet. To think only a couple months ago I had to take a break in the middle of a speed workout that was only half as long, and it wasn’t as fast either.
On “normal” runs during the week, I’m maintaining roughly the same pace for most of the run, but hills aren’t causing nearly as much bother. As a result, the average pace has gotten better. But compared to merely seeing lower numbers, it’s more pleasing to be running in such a way that nothing slows down the pace.
Perhaps the most notable gains, and the most important ones, have come in the weekly long run. Just yesterday, I logged 34 km, about as long as any marathon training run needs to be, at a sub-3:00 marathon pace. Considering the hills of Wimberley and the trails that made up the route, not bad!
What’s even more encouraging is this has become the norm. About a month ago, a good long run would be followed by a bad one the following week, then another good one. The ability was there, but the consistency wasn’t. A big part of training isn’t to make your good days better, but to make every day a good day.
So why the big improvements? Cooler air is probably helping, but shoes are likely playing a role as well.
Within the next month, I’ll be retiring no less than three pairs of shoes. As shoes get older, they lose their bounce and feel, for lack of a better term, dead. New shoes, by comparison, feel both well-cushioned and lively, both of which help you in distance running. Springy shoes have a way of adding a little pep in your step, and cushioning helps prevent your feet themselves from getting sore during a long run. When you’ve got both things working for you, oh man!
With newer shoes working their way into the rotation along with the old ones, it’s easy to see the difference. Speed workouts are seconds (plural) faster for each lap, and still feel easier. My feet are fine even after my longest runs. And in the closing 5k of almost any workout, it feels like I could easily keep going. New shoes make you only want to run more!