Q1 2019 Running Update

Excerpted selfies from some garbage social media app circa Jan 2019

Guys, it seems like I might have become serious about running again. I have always been such a fair weather runner that there is at least one occasion in the last 18 months where I skipped a destination marathon (having already arrived at the destination) because of crappy weather. Around October of last year, I told myself that I was going to go ahead and try to run through the winter this time. This was not because I had delusions of grandeur that my middle aged self was about to unleash the record breaking runner that cold weather had always been stifling. It was more a result of the fact that I had finally joined a gym that was very close to my office and also very close to Central Park.

Prior to joining the gym (for my first time ever) my biggest obstacle to winter running was the fact that I was relegated to running either before or after work. This is no problem in the summer months. It gets light at 5:30 AM and dark at 9:30. Run at 5:30 AM and you can get those cooler 70 degree temps, then still have a few mins after the shower to stop sweating before putting on office attire. After work in the summer, also awesome. No sun equals no problem when the temps are headed back into the comfort zone from the oppressively hot zone.  But in the winter…. forget about it. I’m not going to wake up extra early and get out of bed when it is pitch black and 15 degrees outside to run in the howling wind. Kudos to those who can do that. I know plenty of people who think that I’m a weakling with no self control for admitting as much. To those people I say, “you are probably right, and I wish I was more like you.”

Okay, so back to the subject. Running through winter was a daunting idea that I was really wary of. I had basically accepted the fact that after autumn races, I would stop running, put on excess body mass all winter and sort it out in the spring. The latter part of the aforementioned task becomes increasingly difficult as my age number ticks northward. So there I was last fall, already uncomfortable with the amount of body blah I was dealing with. For the record, last year was the first time in a while that I had not been training for a fall race. I don’t doubt that the lack of summer/fall training miles fueled my desire to get fit over the winter months.

As 2019 was approaching, I thought long and hard about what my fitness goals would be. I mean, dude, I’m getting slower not faster. I wasn’t about to set a goal to get a PR marathon (or any distance) or some other plausibly unrealistic goal. So instead, I decided that I was going to log 1000 miles in 2019. The last time I did this was exactly 10 years ago in 2009. The decade of separation was another reason that I felt like it was an appropriate time to bring back the 1 year/1k goal. I wanted to focus on logging miles, not being fast, or training for races, or any of that other stuff.

Doing basic math, a person only has to run 3ish miles per day to log 1k miles in a year. As a person whose schedule rarely allows me run every day of the week, thinking about it in those terms sounded daunting. Once I broke it down to weekly increments, much less so. 21 miles in seven days? No problem. Realistically, in the winter I’m not going to run less than 5 miles if I’m going to go through the trouble of putting on all of the gear. I mean, Shakespeare and his men didn’t put on tights for a 20 minute dip out-and-back. Another helpful fact is that one loop around central park is about 6.25 miles counting the entry and exit from 59th Street.

When thinking about a weekly goal, I also wanted to account for the inevitable fact that I will most likely have a sick day or two, as well as the possibility of injury. Further, there is bound to be some occasions when I’m traveling, etc., when running will just not be practical (like I said, not hardcore). In order to account for those days, I pegged my weekly level at 25 miles per week. Breaking that down, if I could get 4 laps in CP during the work week…. done. And if I can’t, I have the weekend make up the difference.

Also selfies of me: 11 lbs lighter and a minute per mile faster than in the photos above. Circa March 2019

I’m happy to report that at the end of the first quarter, I’m ahead of my mileage goal, and I have experienced some peripheral benefits along the way. First: my pace per mile has dropped roughly one minute since last Nov. This is without even doing any speed work at all, or really even pushing myself on runs. I’m still nowhere close to where I was in 2009. But it feels like I’m not completely sucking at running! Second: I have managed to drop bit of that body blah. Knocking on wood that I can keep the drive alive and have an equally positive Q2 update to post on July 1.

Here is where my next level nerditude comes out. Embedded below is my mile tracker (updated daily)–

Embracing the Awk

2014-shotbyjake.com-6991

“Double Deuces” courtesy of B’s private collection

Being photographed is tough. Some people are so good at it. They look so natural and comfortable, effortlessly cool, etc.. I look basically the opposite of all of those things in just about every photo ever taken of me. I have always felt more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. The above image is a perfect example of why. I am super awkward in photos, and have accordingly disliked being photographed for most of my life. In recent years I have thankfully come to embrace the awkwardness, and I have my little sister partially to thank for this. If there is one person who ranks on my levels of unnaturaltude when the camera is pointed in their direction, it is her. I should also mention that she is a woman who struggles with autism. Perhaps I too have some sort of social disability which causes me to lose my sense of “normalcy” when I find myself staring into the business end of a lens.

At any rate, I have her to thank for my decision to embrace my shortcomings as a subject in photos. A few years ago, I noticed that she had adopted sort of a signature pose for photos. She would hold up two fingers, peace-frogs-style and pop her hip out to the side. By doing so, she spun her discomfort of being photographed into her own brand of sassy protest (“okay go ahead and take my photo, but you are going to get this pose”). Amazed at how well this seemed to work, I took a page from her book and started throwing deuces in photos every chance I had. When possible, I will even incorporate double deuces. As ironic as it may sound, I have hated photos of me much less since adopting her approach. While the photos are ostensibly “worse” and certainly more contrived than before the advent of the deuce pose (not to be confused with the other deuce pose), at least I can laugh at them now, as opposed to just cringing. So while I will most likely never be able to look cool, natural or at ease in photos, I can thank my sis for helping me embrace a signature awkward pose.