Let’s get the details over with first:
Distance: Approx. 8.6 km (a little more than 5 miles). My GPS was out of battery at 5.8 km, so it’s probably not 100% precise
Program: Long run (Polar’s endurance program).10 min warmup, 70 min sport zone 2 (below 138 bpm), 15 min zone 3, 5 min cooldown
Total duration: 1 hour 45 minutes
Calorie burn: 1084
Verdict: Somewhat concerned if it was smart to run the day after my basic run, but turns out it was. Felt fine all the way – I’m following the program to the letter, which means that I had to run reaaaaally slow, but I’ve never run this kind of distance and felt so far from exhausted afterwards.
Wherein I discover forefoot running
So, forefoot running has been kind of the big thing here for the past few years. Whenever I read about running online it’s always forefoot running, forefoot running, forefoot running. I’ve tried it before, but it always felt awkward. From what I read my steps might simply be too long, but my heart’s never really been into it.
During my run today I became frustrated because I couldn’t get my heart rate down below the limit without walking, and running so slow felt really hard, what with the lack of momentum and all. And somehow I got it into my head to try forefoot running – simply because you don’t have to use that much force to move forward, since you got some momentum regardless of speed due to the technique. I didn’t expect to actually figure out how to do it properly, even if I’ve read about how to do it.
But suddenly… I did do it right. And what a difference. Not only was it easier to keep my bpm below the limit, but it was far easier to run at that kind of slow speed. I really noticed that it’s a more efficient way of running, and the impact is far, far less. I’m still not comfortable doing it at faster speeds, but I’ll keep practicing.
Of course, I really felt it in my calves and ankles. They got more of a workout than they usually do when I’m running, but that is also one of the good things. I need strong ankles and strong feet for my dancing, since we always dance as high on our toes as we possibly can, and my ankles have always been a little on the weak side. I have to be careful not to overdo things, but still, it will definitely help.
I can’t really believe that I’m sitting here, writing about running technique. I, who hardly even tried to complete the 3 km run at school, and who detested running until I finally did it voluntarily a couple of years ago. I, who have always been the slowest, the heaviest, the one least able to push myself, the unfit one. I’m far from super fit, but I am definitely closer to being fit than I have ever been before in my life.
Lately there’s been quite a bit of a shift in how I think about running. Previously, I had my heart rate monitor simply to see how many calories I used during exercise. I didn’t care about the sport zones nor really about doing different kinds of runs in order to increase my cardiovascular fitness or my technique. Now… I still look at the calorie burn, mostly so that I know how many extra calories I can eat, but it’s not the most important thing.
This summer, it’s been distance. I have almost been obsessed with the idea of running 10 km in one go. I did do it in one trip, but not without walking here and there. Still, I consider the goal complete as there was more than 10 km of running from I went out my door until I got back home.
Now it’s more technique and improving my fitness… Not to lose weight, although that’s a very welcome bonus, but because I want to become a good runner, because I want to be in good shape. I’m going to run a half marathon next April, and I want to be in as good a shape as possible. I don’t imagine I’ll manage a particularly fast speed (but preferrably faster than my regular running partner), but I don’t want to have to worry about whether or not I’ll manage the distance. I want to be faster, be able to run longer, to run more efficiently, and to be strong enough for the things I would like to do. Running or hiking in the mountains, for example, or just carrying election brochures at work.
Training for a purpose and not just for losing weight has also turned out to be more fun. I normally don’t like set programs, but this one is pretty great, particularly when I can switch the dates so it fits my timetable better. Even after only three runs I already feel a difference in my running, and both my running index and my VO2max (as estimated by my Polar watch (not necessarily completely accurate)) have improved a level. Happy runner here, in other words!