Three Years and Counting
I have been running for over three years now. At the beginning it was only casual, but lately, I have taken it seriously with a hope, that while doing it, I might achieve that intrinsic happiness. It sure does makes me feel great when I am done running those milestone miles of 5K, 10K and now a half marathon under my belt. But there is more to do and farther to go.
I don’t remember anything about doing my earlier milestone runs. Like, the day I did my first 5K or 10K. I have no memory of them. But they are there in the archives of my Nike plus running app. But I sure remember the following runs.
First 10 miler
My first 10 miler was hard. What was suppose to be a regular run on one rainy, Seattle evening, I decided to stretch it further. It was a beginning of something wonderful. The reason to take it beyond my best distance of 6 miles or 10 K was personal. I was grieving a loss of somebody not so close but yet integral part of growing up. The run was a way to spend sometime with myself to recollect the memories spent with him as a child, as an adult.
I did not feel tired and wanted to run from capital hill to University of Washington building- the tall building with UW on top of it. It was around 4-5 mile one way and on my way there, for the first time I ran over the university bridge. It was dark and rainy and the feeling of rain drops falling on my face was surreal. I guess one has to live the moment to feel it. I feel inadequate to express it into my words.
On my way back, as I hit 6-7 mile mark, I started feeling this sharp pain in my left knee. I knew this would happen but was still frustrated. I thought I would do half marathon distance that day, but couldn’t. My knee was hurting too much. I started walk-run-walk method repeating the interval every minute.
As I reached home, I was done with my first 10 mile mark. An amazing feeling engulfed me but was tainted. What was suppose to be a run to recollect, relive memories of the time spent with the lost soul, I couldn’t come up with enough moments. And I went into this place where I felt scared from within. Random thoughts started to cloud my mind. I started to think of the memories I have with my dad and no special moment stood out. I could not make out anything of this and left the thought there in that moment, in the darkness, locked it in some section of my brain.
First 13 miler: Half Marathon
Took rescue in internet. Searched and researched a lot about my nagging knee pain. What it is?Why do I have it?How to get rid of it? were some of the questions.
Came through materials on BareFootRunning. People swearing by it as the only way humans were born to run. The Mexico tribes, the barefoot Ted and plethora of other articles, led me to believe that may be this is the solution.
First Barefoot Run
In attempt to experience and check this new wave of running, I decided to do it myself. I ran my first barefoot run of 5 mile distance and realized the next day that I was stupid. My calves and achilles were sore as hell for a week. In the past, I have never been sore more than a day but this time it was for a week.
But the run felt great. As mentioned by all the experts of barefoot running, my stride was automatically adjusted to be small strides, my landing was forced to be mid-foot and not heels. I enjoyed it a lot and since then, it has been about a month and a half that I have been doing shorter runs of barefoot. But I still wanted to do the longer runs and build my mileage, hence bought myself zero-drop shoes. Merrell bare access 4 is what I am using now and eventually would go for Newbalance minimus and then completely barefoot is what the goal is. Until then, it is bare-minimum running.
After barefoot training or bare-minimum running with Merrell shoes, I was anxious to go out and test myself for that half marathon distance that I couldn’t finish in my first attempt. And I did just that. On april 19th 2015, I went all out. It was a day after a serious 7 mile hike and a good night sleep. I was a bit skeptical, if I would be able to do it this time because I had hiked 7 miles a day before and also, I had no idea how my knee would behave this time. But, I still went out.
It was sunny afternoon and shirt was off. I had my Nike plus running app, my playlist of motivational speeches was ready and I was in my Merrell. I decided, I will go the same path, that I had failed last time and see if this time is any better. The first mile is always tough for me. I have no idea why but it just is and it was again.
I focussed on following things that I have learnt from my barefoot running.
- Small Strides
- Head up
- Straight posture
- Slow speed.
And it paid off. Knees did not hurt as they did earlier. I was sore the same evening and legs felt heavy like a brick, but next day was pretty normal. So much so, that I could have gone for another 5K. Below is what, my first half marathon looked like.