Running after 50: what was I thinking?

Last Saturday I ran 6.8 miles.  This was after a 6.4 miles run 4 days earlier, and previous to that by a a few days, a 6.2 mile run–a big leap from previous average of 3-3.5 miles, which I’d been doing about a week prior.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Okay, so since late June, I’ve upped my 6x a week to  3-3.5 miles more or less.  That was up from 2-2.5 5 times a week, so that was already a step up in the distance department, and it’s also about 18-20 miles a week.

Suddenly, after reading the Murakami autobio on running, I sort of got it into my head that it would be cool to see if I could run 6 miles, like he did every day at the beginning of his book.  He’s 59, and his book is a sort of chronicle of thoughts on running, and the practice of running itself.  When he decided to do the NY marathon, he changed from 6 miles a day to 10 miles a day and more.

The ease of adding more miles was enticing to me: if 3 miles feels this good, imagine what 6 miles must feel like!

So I tried 6 miles.  I actually ran 6.2, my own private 10K and felt really excited to learn that 1) I’d lived to tell the tale, 2) I felt pretty okay, all things considered.  As noted above, a few days later I went further, and a few days after that, further still.  At the same time, I tried to keep up my regular runs.

This last run on Saturday, while easier in some ways than the previous one, was also harder in another way.  My body really hurt later, and I was really tired (imagine!).  That same night, my body was still feeling really strange–can’t quite describe, just uncomfortable–it felt like there was excess energy coursing through me at the same time that I was really tired.

The next day I did a little research online and discovered this amazing fact that seemed to be shared by most everyone: if you are training to increase your distance, do so by 10% of your previous weekly run, for two weeks or more if needed, and then again, 10% x 2 weeks.

What I had unwittingly done was increase my miles by 100% over the course of 3 weeks.  I’m lucky I didn’t do damage, although my chronically sore heels are little more chronic now.  I do long stretches of yoga and stuff after my runs, even short ones, so I think the tone of my muscles is pretty good.

So, I’ve asked the ego-and-excitement driven me to step back for a while and let the more practical driven me to take the reins for a while.  It’s not easy, surprisingly.  Today I ran 3.4 miles and it didn’t feel like enough.  I threw some hills in for good measure and last minute, even though I’d planned to limit myself to 3 miles only, I threw in a couple more paths through the park.  Just couldn’t go back feeling this un-exercised.

I’m sworn to start over now and do it better, since I’m also sworn to stay as healthy and injury free as long as possible and to keep running.  It’s all good.

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