Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Running Man

One of my pasttimes is running. Depending on if I was carrying a few extra pounds [or more than a few!] or at a good weight, it was work or pleasurable toil. Regardless, I have found it the best way to keep the weight in check. A 6' male at my weight burns about 1200-1300 calories in a one hour run [according to what I've read] even going at a pokey 10' per mile pace. Besides the caloric burn, speaking only for myself, the running really suppresses the appetite, not in the sense that I decide to go hungry, but it silences the little devil sitting on my shoulder whispering those sirenesque words "Chinese Buffet! Chinese Buffet!" And, given that I love to eat --- ask anybody I know for confirmation --- any sort of appetite suppression is a good thing!

There is this 7.5-mile outdoor circuit that I run on the weekends, and, during the week, I run a treadmill for 60 minutes at the health club. So, the legs are fairly used to a respectable middle-length distance.

Anyway, yesterday, running the 7.5-mile circuit, I had completed one loop, but had this feeling that, yes, I could've pulled double-duty and done the loop a second time, making it a 15-mile day. Back in '00-'01, I was able to pound out 15 miles, and, just as importantly, I still had enough legs to run 7-8 miles the next day. But this gets me thinking: why not prepare for a marathon?

A marathon is something I thought of early in graduate school when I was in really good shape and could run a seven-mile route in under 50 minutes. But with a dissertation and then a life as an academic afterward --- not to mention the cold Chicagoland weather --- the running became a seasonal affair, and, I played basketball anyway, which left no legs for running-for-its-own-sake.

The thing about a marathon is that the very length is psychologically intimidating. Those 15-mile runs were rather boring after the first thirty minutes. And, even if you're in good shape, you're still going to feel rather put out after a 15-mile run. Now tack 11+ miles on to that already-existing feeling.

Another thing, and I'm not sure if this is idiosyncratic or ubiquitous, is the fact that how my legs feel and how they can hold up is something that appears to be at the whim of the gods. My legs can feel great but peter out in a mile or two. Other days, I can go on forever with the same feeling. Some nights at the gym the treadmill is a pleasurable affair [as far as treadmills can be pleasurabe], and other times I'm huffing and puffing within five minutes. The same guy who could truck 15 miles could also just not have it after a few miles on another day.

All of this adds to the psychological intimidation of running a marathon --- not only is it long, but you might very well train and end up with legs that just aren't up for the run come the day of the marathon.

The other psychologically intimidating factor of a marathon, at least for a hack like myself, is the sheer boredom factor. A friend will bike with me as I run the 7.5 mile route, and this makes the hour+ of running bearable. The better the conversation, the quicker the route seems. And, I could see this lasting for two hours.

However, four+ hours of running? Even if the body could take it, it sounds boring. Thoroughly boring. Dreadfully boring. And when you're bored, you begin to think of your joints getting shocked repeatedly with each step, and you begin to feel as if your quads and butt and hamstrings are starting to tighten up, and you begin to notice that your lower back is starting to tighten....

I hope that all the running won't diminish strength and muscle mass. I intend to keep lifting 5x per week. But I've heard that a lot of running diminishes your strength even if you keep lifting. [?]

Anyway, I'm going to train for a marathon and hopefully pound one out in the next calendar year. I'm about halfway there in terms of distance on a good day. But the second half seems rather intimidating.

I suppose you just have to tell yourself that if you can run x miles, you can run x+1 miles when x>13.


Anonymous Diane said...

Good luck on the marathon!

Maybe you should get one of the MP3 players and play Bach or something while running to stave off the boredom. Maybe that would be a good Christmas present.

Make sure that you get a bone density test regularly since distance running can really weaken your bones if you don't get proper nutrition.

Sunday, November 27, 2005 1:39:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Diane --- correct me if I'm wrong, but I heard that a Thomas and Gus supplement help keep the bones strong. :-)

No more guzzling down five diet Cokes after a long run, either, alas. :-(

Sunday, November 27, 2005 3:54:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

BTW, today was surprisingly easy. I don't get it. Friday's run felt slow and pokey. Saturday the legs were tired but I pounded out the route quite easily. Today, the legs felt really heavy and the treadmill just surrendered to my might. Go figure.

Sunday, November 27, 2005 5:01:00 PM  
Blogger Rhology said...

But... does that mean you'll be posting... < gulp > LESS?

Sunday, November 27, 2005 8:01:00 PM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

I am so impressed!

I started "running" way too late in life, and I am currently trying to heal a sore plantar's fascia- thingy, but I did run TWO Race for the Cures this year, which made me feel like it wasn't totally hopeless.

I can't imagine running 7.5 miles ata a time. Rock on!

Sunday, November 27, 2005 9:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Diane said...


No, a Thomas and Gus supplement won't keep your bones strong. They have enough trouble with their bones (and teeth, especially Thomas).

Calcium, Vitamin D, and sunshine should keep your bones strong. (Which means, no sleeping until noon and limited game playing in the dark.)

And, of course, no more guzzling of Diet Cokes. If I recall correctly, something in soda actually leaches the calcium out.

Which marathon would you run? The Chicago one ;-)?

Monday, November 28, 2005 7:23:00 AM  

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