Have you ever watched a child learn to ride a bike with training wheels. They start out all steady, because both of the extra wheels are on the ground.
Then, gradually, as the wheels are raised inch by inch, they teeter back and forth until eventually, they don't ever use them.
Or, they're like my sister.....who just never used them and rode all the way around the block the first time she rode her "big girl bike" and promptly got grounded for leaving the street.
Having a running partner is a bit like training wheels. There's a lot you don't have to worry about.
You don't have to worry about safety quite as much, the two of you could probably take on any "bad guy" that dared to approach.
You don't have to worry about concentration quite as much, you've got someone reminding you to flex your hips, stop scuffing your feet, and to set the rhythm.
You don't have to worry about stretching the same way, you've got a stretching partner who knows tons about the human body and can in 20 minutes get your knees and shoulders as "loosey-goosey" as they've ever been.
But, eventually, your schedules don't quite match up. And, the training wheels of your training partner have to come off.
That's what happened this weekend on the long run.
Rabbit had her own race on Saturday (the annual Mud Run that benefits the Wounded Warrior Project) that our ROTC units sponsored. So, she wasn't going to be doing the long run with me. Plus, she was pet sitting for someone, and that person was returning home early Sat morning and Rabbit needed to be at the house when they got there. So, I was on my own for the 10-mile run. This really wasn't all that big of a deal, I've done plenty of 2 hr runs on my own. But, it's been awhile since I have run all alone, and I knew that it would be an interesting experiment to see whether or not the lessons that I've learned running with her would stick when I was running on my own.
My long runs these days are still run/walk intervals where the walk interval is 90 seconds. I started off headed down the standard street the running group uses to head out of town, and was feeling pretty comfortable. I figured I'd run a bit slower without Rabbit, since I'm always running to keep up with her, and wanted to see what would happen when I ran at a "comfortable" pace for me... that felt aerobic and "talkable." My first few miles, I was running around an 11-11:30 pace and my HR recovered quickly during the walk breaks. I probably could have (and should have) just shortened those walk breaks to 60 seconds rather than 90. But then,.... as I crossed the interstate, and hit the other major road on the route (a simple out and back), things started to go more toward south than north, if you know what I mean.
This route is hilly. Not mountains, just rolling hills that on a bike are pretty fun to surge up over the crests, rest a bit on the downs, and then pedal near the bottom to slingshot yourself back up and over the next one. If you're in just moderate shape, they really aren't that much trouble at all. On a bike. I wasn't on a bike.
As I headed out of town my pace slowed, my walking slowed, and the hills started to get the better of me. Don't get me wrong, I didn't quit...I don't really do that. But, I could tell that I was slowing. People in front of me were WAY in front of me, and I was no longer holding my own. I knew that I'd be turning around sooner than most of the group, so it didn't bother me that I got dropped on the way out, but still.....it's a tad bit demoralizing when you see people just ------- run away from you. I was back to completely solo running.
I made the turn around to head back and REALLY slowed down. You see. This town sits on the top of a hill....so, roads out of it "net" a downhill grade even if they include rollers. To get back to your car, you have to climb back up the big hill. Nice. I probably would have made better time if I'd power-walked back up the hill. But still, I dug in and tried to recall the rhythm of quicker feet, and tried to keep my HR under control. I sure did that. To the point that I took forever to make it back up that 2 mile hill. Just as I was turning the corner to head back into town, I hear a car behind me and, "Don't you dare quit on me." Training Wheels!
Rabbit was on her way in to her office, and stopped by on the route to check on me. She the parked her car and ran the last 2 miles into town with me.
Here's the kicker, and the training wheels aspect of the run. I could tell that within STEPS of her starting to run with me.... steps.... that my pace dropped. My effort level increased, but not by too much. A walk break came up soon after she caught me, and after starting the next run (to begin mile 9), we were working again. My effort increased, my HR did,....but not to the point of falling apart. I wasn't really able to talk much, but I could mostly keep up. There is one big-ish hill headed back into town, and she got ahead of me on that, but I was able to catch up. Partly, that's because she slows a bit to allow me to do that...partly because she's close enough that chasing her down is a possibility and I work to do it. At one point, when I was running on the shoulder of the street, and she was on the sidewalk.... she said, "Is there a reason you're not on the sidewalk?" My reply was.... "Is there a reason we're running a 10:30 pace? -- huff puff" My last two miles were my fastest two miles of the run.
So, did I do "ok"? Yeah, I did ok.
Did I do "great"? Nope. Not great.
Eventually, I have got to learn to run without training wheels.
Swim Trek '08
the doing it didn't happen till Rabbit showed up.
So, I'm thinking that maybe they still need to be there.
But, it did spark a great conversation about what is the best way she can help me from this point forward.
And, what I need to use while running to keep myself in a good zone.
Likely, we'll be exploring using HR again....since, when I looked at my graph of the run, my HR was way down. I just wasn't working as hard as on previous runs.
I don't know if that's a big deal right now, but it might be.
I don't know if I can handle the longer runs at the higher HRs right now.
So, the coming weeks will be a new kind of test. :)
Swim Trek '08
How is your training coming? I haven't seen you post here for a while. Hope all is well!