My brain has way too much “thinking” time when I am not working out constantly. One of the things I have been thinking about during this current period of enforced down time (curse you stress fracture!) is walking versus running. I am considering moving away from my attempts to become a long distance runner and just settling (although settling is not the best word) for being a long distance walker. Here are some of my mental bullet points:
- I have never been a fast runner. Even when I ran cross country and track in Jr High School. I am more an endurance athlete. I have to push myself like crazy to get below 10 minute miles (mm) and don’t really enjoy it. Case in point – I just spent April thru September running several miles a day using the Maffetone method. After all of those months of consistent training I was still barely getting down to the 13 mm range.
- I rarely “enjoy” running. I feel satisfaction in accomplishing runs. I feel a bit more acceptable when I run. But I don’t truly enjoy it. Satisfaction is about the best I can come up with. There are probably 2-5 runs a year that make all the other running worthwhile.
- I like walking. It doesn’t stress me out. It makes me happy. It is natural for me.
- I actually am more efficient speed walking than I am running. Often, I can walk faster than I can run.
- I feel more pride in walking a 13 mm than I do in running a 13 mm.
Bit of history – when I started doing marathons back in 2004, I did my first two or three almost totally walking. I basically ran 100 steps each mile to use different muscles. And I did fine. But I felt guilty not being a runner, so started the walk/run method. Even so, after 11 years of this stuff I still tend to walk more than I run.
So – what happens if I switch away from running and become a distance walker who occasionally throws in a bit of running for grins and giggles? I don’t think it would take much effort to get back to walking 13 mm consistently. Would this place less stress on my body? Would I face plant less? (Probably not). Would I be able to avoid getting injured as much? Would I be able to enjoy training and being in the mountains and on the road more?
I am leaning more and more in this direction. The hard part would be giving up some dreams in order to accomplish other dreams.
- No more dreams of the Boston Marathon. There has always been a small part of me that wants to run Boston. But I would have to work harder and suffer more than I really want to in order to accomplish that dream. (Refer to previous mentions of my not being fast). Can I live without this dream? Yes.
- No more worrying about PR’s in 5K and 10K races. Gosh – giving up pushing the puke zone will be tough – but I could do that.
- Learning to not feel bad about not being a runner in a community that calls itself “ultrarunners”. Not sure I will ever get over that guilt – but I could live with it.
- Will I have to rename my blog from Adventures in Running to Adventures in Walking? Nah – I’ll live with it.
The decision is not fully made. But I have a lot of living ahead of me and what I really want to do is some of the following:
- Be healthy and strong for as many years as I can.
- Enjoy life and enjoy living and training.
- Be able to be on trails in the mountains without worrying about injury. Or without being sidelined by injuries.
- Challenge myself with ultra distances in training and races. There are so many things I want to accomplish and most of those involve ultramarathons.
I look at Yolanda Holder and the world records she has set all while being a distance walker. I admire the things she has accomplished and think that by simply changing my mindset I can accomplish the goals that I want.
Some of the things I have learned this year are that I really don’t want to be a peak bagger, or even a scrambler. I admire people who finish races like the Wasatch 100, but I don’t have this deep desire (or really enjoy) doing constant vertical in races. I like going long distances. There are plenty of races in the US and around the world where I can go long without having to kill myself by constantly climbing and descending. It is just a matter of focusing on what works for me and enjoy seeing others accomplish their goals without feeling guilty that I don’t have those same goals as them.
Isn’t that a big part of what the ultra community is all about?