Time To Think

By: Daryl Berry
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Time To Think

Since I began running around five years ago, with the exception of races, I log most of my miles with our dog, Barkley, or alone.  This gives me a lot of time to think as Barkley’s not much of a conversationalist.  When I played golf, after a shot, I would be thinking about the next shot.  When I fished, I was busy trying to think like a fish.  In running I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the next mile unless I am having a bad running day. Then I think about every mile and why am I doing this?  Someday I will probably write an article about why I run instead of playing golf or fishing.  I have thought about that while running.  Like I said, I have thought about a lot of things while running.

Today I was thinking about pacing strategy for the upcoming marathon I am scheduled to run later this month.  I was practicing running a pace that will help me survive to the end and hopefully better my marathon time I set in January.  My schedule today called for a steady pace for twelve miles and then running the last four miles faster.  It was a nice theory but didn’t pan out in reality.  I was able to maintain the pace but didn’t get faster those last four.

I looked back at my pace for the marathon I ran in Florida in January and wonder if I will be able to do the same at the end of the month based on today’s performance.  Running in a race always brings something extra out in me but the fact that there are less hills than I am accustomed to will be a benefit.  I know I will face hills in Louisville in Iroquois Park but a lot of the course is relatively level which gives me hope.

In the neighborhood where I run, there are hills in every direction.  I would find a more level place to run but due to my business responsibilities I must stay near to home so I can respond relatively quickly if I get called into work. On a typical route through the neighborhood, I can run between 5 to 6 miles before I start repeating the route.  This means for a 16 mile run like today, I run the same route 3 times, repeating the hills, over and over again.

During my time of thinking while running, I have classified the hills based on terms I encountered while in mortuary school.  I told you I have time to think about a lot of things, some of them are pretty random thoughts.  Occasionally I will read a couple different terms on death certificates that brought these words to mind.  The first term is “acute”.  This is not to be confused with “a cute”, as in, my new grandson is a cute baby.  The acute I am thinking about would be like, acute myocardial infarction.  This is fancy way of saying heart attack, which I am trying to avoid by running.  What I remember from pathology class was that acute meant a medical condition that had a sudden onset and could be severe in nature.  Several of the hills in my neighborhood are what I consider to be acute hills.  They come up on me quickly and are steep but don’t last too long, thank goodness.

On the other hand, some of the hills are “chronic” hills. Chronic, as in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease better known as COPD, another term that shows up on many death certificates.  Chronic means that the condition comes on slowly and increases in severity over a longer time.  Chronic hills are like that, the incline is gradual but they seem to go on forever. 

Which is harder to run?  Running down acute hills is difficult since it brings pounding on the joints and is probably why I have a black toe nail.  If you try to run down acute hills too quickly, you could get your body moving faster than your feet and take a tumble.  A couple of the hills I run have an acute uphill following an acute downhill.  Getting momentum going downhill running just doesn’t have the same effect as building up speed going downhill on a bike which helps you get up the next hill without having to downshift.  You hit that uphill while running and the momentum goes out the window.  Parts of the routes I run in my neighborhood are out and back, meaning I get to run down and up these hills and turn around and run them again the opposite direction.  I like to think of it as building character.  What’s the old adage?  What don’t kill you will make you stronger. 

Chronic up hills are real time killers, especially if you are running them into the wind, something I have done a lot this spring.  Which brings up a question.  Why do you feel a head wind but you don’t feel a tail wind?  Running down chronic hills allows you to take advantage of gravity and pick up some speed while not pounding the knees like you do on acute hills.  It’s like coasting on a bicycle.  Sometimes when doing interval runs, I put off my slow intervals and do them going up and pick up the pace on those chronic downhills. 

Runs, like life, would be pretty boring if there were not up hills and down hills.  I don’t mind the ups nearly as much as I once did.  I have found that the more acute hills I run the less they irritate me when I face them again.  They sure do make me appreciate those long chronic downhills.

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