Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Running by feel and the glass ceiling

Understanding the philosophy of running by feel and creating a space in one’s mind to actually go about implementing such a practice are two distinct things entirely.  Running by feel likely means different things to different people.  To some readers of this blog running by feel may be a completely blasé topic, a basic reminder of a maturation having taken place many thousands of miles ago.  For others, it might be something new and unheard of, or signify a possible scary departure from the familiar ritual of scheduling.  For me, running by feel is a philosophy- though still somewhat new- comfortably understood and something I have graduated to employing in my training full time.  The basic premise of this methodology is best explained in Matt Fitzgerald’s ‘Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel’, and a methodology I became most familiar with towards the end of last year after Russell Gill recommended the book to me.  The book was interesting enough.  I enjoyed it and learned some things.  I do not pen this post as a hail to Fitzgerald’s coaching advice, much less as a critique.  What I do pen this post for is to simply share with readers what actually thrust upon me, full time, the practice of running by feel.

The weather.  That’s what.
Weather is a constant contender, and we obviously can’t control it.  It is a glass ceiling, imposing limits upon a laid out summer training schedule.  We have two choices with regards to the weather: we can enjoy it or simply endure it.  Nine times out of ten I generally enjoy whatever weather conditions are present; however, while running, certain efforts are not always best employed in adverse conditions.  Case in point, heat and humidity.  While I have professed to enjoy running in the summer’s heat on this blog- and I have- it doesn’t mean I am out there pushing as hard as I can in the middle of the day under an exposed sun just because I want to or because a schedule dictates.  Quite the opposite.  I am happy to run in the middle of the day under an exposed sun but not for too long and not at a high tempo.  And certainly not without ready water, be it necessary.  The weather this summer, which has been nothing out of the ordinary, has simply taught me to wake up each day and run with what I am given and, therefore, what I have around me, and in me.  Be it cool outside.  Be it hot and sticky.   Also, have I good energy on a particular morning or evening?  Or am I tired?  I think of all of this as a natural maturation in my running progression, a gift from experience and a tribute listening to my body, and definitely something I recognize in many other runners I know personally who have understood this simple philosophy for what seems like forever.  It’s nice to have this in common with them now, too.  It’s real simple, for me,  I’ve learned- mostly from the weather- to embrace running without knowing- necessarily- what, where or for how long tomorrow’s run will be until tomorrow comes.  I’m not going to force a run unless it comes naturally.  And I don’t get upset if tomorrow brings something unexpected.  I also believe that because I choose to run by how I feel, daily, and run at an effort that I am comfortable with in whatever weather is present I have gained a large appreciation for actually running in the heat in the first place- be it hot, or even REALLY hot.  If you think about it, it is amazing how such basic things dovetail.
On to cooler subjects.   Saturday marks the four week countdown to Leadville.  Training is going exceptionally well.  The mileage, intensity, etc. is right where I want it.  I am also at a race weight (177 lbs as of last week) that I have never been, I don’t think, going into a race.  I’m skinny.  177lbs for me is skinny, ok?  But what do I know... I've only weighed myself twice this year and maybe only twice last year.  Saturday also marks my departure date for a retreat to the cooler environs of Vail, Colorado where I will last out the remaining weeks of a fleeting summer, acclimating for the race and exploring backcountry near and far.  In the immediate Vail area there are so many miles of trails splintering off into the White River National Forest- accessible from my doorstep- I have yet to explore on other trips.  Hope the streams are running high because I plan on being deep in the woods quite a bit, and I’ll be thirsty.
This trip, for which I am in awe and immensely grateful, is another example of the gifts provided to me by running.  Literally, running takes me places.  Call me a geek, but I often choose to go places where I can run how I want to run.  And for me the Rocky Mountains offer the perfect running canvass.  I am not ashamed, embarrassed, apologetic or too cheesed out to call such a running trip a demonstration of a lifestyle.  It is simply just that.  As long as desire is the needle and running is my thread, I will continue to weave this lifestyle and run (and race) for as long as I can sustain, or until my cup spills over.  It is a feeling, beyond measure and, mostly, beyond explanation.  Like any passion, for each individual, it is personal.  But wait, there is more: while on the topic of lifestyle, I am excited to announce details are currently in the works for big changes for me and Gaby forthcoming in the fall.  Thanks, in part, to running.  No doubt about it.  More news on this subject in September.
Finally, for some chill, honest-to-goodness real music, and to reflect on your own summer goings-on, please enjoy Ray Lamontagne & The Pariah Dogs’ aptly titled tune, For The Summer.

1 comment:

  1. Love the summertime running musings. I do love a good sweaty run in hot weather, as long as I can keep to the shade of the trails.

    Good luck at Leadville, Neal! And enjoy your time in Colorado.