The Beginning

(Note: While I was designing Running Free Blog, I was writing blog posts too as I started this process, but had no place to post them.  So for a while the blog posts will be a few weeks “reto,” until I run out of content and start writing “live” every week. This post was written August 13th.)


It was not like the beginning of a journey; it was like the beginning of a dream~ H.G. Wells

I ran today after work. It was hot- in the 90’s- I came home and thought I’d relax a few minutes and let it cool off.  I ended up falling asleep!  When I woke up it was almost 8PM, the sun was setting, clouds had rolled in, and it had cooled off a lot. So it was perfect running weather (well perfect for August) for me.

I don’t have an “official” training plan. I’m not going to get tied to trying to hit certain distances and paces.  I suppose my only real plan is to just run as it feels good to do so, and keep gradually increasing my mileage.

As I started off, I was paying attention to my form. I am making the transition to landing on my fore foot.  I ran again with no socks in my shoes.  It felt easier tonight- not so weird.  I’m noticing I do feel the ground a bit more and my toes can spread out in my shoes, making the fore foot landing much easier to do almost all the time.  My feet don’t feel as confined.

It’s funny- I have a rip in the side of one of my shoes.  My beloved The North Face Kilowatts, the first pair of semi-minimalist shoes I bought a year ago, when their light weight appealed to me. They have been to date, the lightest weight shoe I’ve owned. Running them always felt great, even though they had less padding than I was used to. (must be something to that.  😉  )   The tear, a few months ago, this would have bothered me and I would have thought I needed new shoes. But these shoes really are comfortable for me- they have over 200 miles on them and they feel like they are just getting broken in.  So I’m going to keep them.  My toe may have a little extra dirt on it after running, but a little dirt doesn’t bother me.

About half a mile into the run, I turned off my music.  I just felt like I didn’t want to run with music tonight.  In my first year of running, I was training for the Army 10 Miler in Washington DC.  One of the requirements for that race, was that you could not run with music.

So I started weaning myself of music and it was really hard. I hated it at first. I’d do a mile at a time, and I did eventually build up to running 10 miles with no music.

Something odd happened though- even though I didn’t like running without music, I actually started running faster. My pacing was faster every time with no music and I was faster just naturally during the miles I wasn’t listening to music than when I did.

With no music, you are forced to listen to yourself. You hear every breath you inhale and every breath you exhale.  Instead of a song keeping a beat going for you (consciously or unconsciously), you start to regulate your own rhythm and timing. Your pacing and breathing work together and gets even in more sync and you are running in tune, like a perfect symphony.  As I built up to 10 miles of no music, I started to like running this way.  I never ran in the race though, and I stated running with music again.

I honestly think tonight has been the first time in almost five years, I’ve ran without music.  I didn’t miss it tonight.  I’m not a newbie to running without music, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

I listened to my feet hit the ground and the dirt on the country road I was running.  Big, puffy, rain clouds were in the sky, the sun was dipping behind the mountains- it was a gorgeous August evening.  And then I heard a rumble of thunder.  Nature was giving me its own music. It kept thundering, and a breeze started up. It cooled me off right as I was climbing a hill, and it was just perfection. I was in total rhythm with my breathing, running, and the elements outside.

This is what I’ve been missing. How wonderful, really on the second run I’ve gone on, since I decided to “run free,”  I have such a great time!  It is fun to run this way.  It was hard running the other way I have- it felt like work- all those years.  This feels like play!

I wondered how many times I have missed this, because I was too “plugged in” running to the beat of music, instead of to the beat of my own breathing? How many times have I missed the tunes of thunder, or the sound of a breeze whistling by my ears?

I realized too, as I was running, that I run loud. As in I make a lot of noise landing.  My feet hit the ground too hard.  In “Born to Run” part of the advice given was to run “easy and light.” I can’t even remember the other 2 elements, because I want to master these two first. I definitely am not running light.  I never really noticed this before.  As I heard my feet pounding down, I couldn’t help but wonder if that is a reason I always end up with running injuries? But with music on all the time, I could never hear the force I’m landing with.

No time like the present, to make the correction.  I focused on the rest of the run, just landing lightly. And for me to do that, it required me to land even more on my fore foot than I had.  I didn’t want to overdo it running the whole run like that, because the first time I ever ran more than 2 miles on my forefeet, I couldn’t walk for 5 days!  It’s definitely a process to ease your body into- not force it.

I noticed too at times I didn’t feel like I was running easy. It felt like work. Old habits die hard and my eyes would immediately go to my Garmin. But I’ve taken the pacing feature off it.  So I didn’t know how fast or slow I was running.  But since it was not feeling easy, I slowed down and that allowed me to land even lighter.

I ended up running 3.15 miles tonight on dirt, pavement, and grass. There were hill climbs too, so I got a good workout in. I discovered though my Garmin still keeps track of the pacing.  I thought it wouldn’t but when I download the run to my computer, it’s there.

I’m going to have to think about this. I really don’t want to see my pacing while I’m running and I don’t.  Maybe seeing the time and pacing after the run, will be a tool for me. But maybe I don’t want to see it at all because then I will become focused on pacing. I like the idea of not having any idea of my pacing at all, and just letting my body figure it out.  So I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that yet.

The best part was the thunder and then it started lightning at the end of the run.  Just as I got back to my home, it started raining.  Not a lot, but just enough to cool me off and feel refreshing.  I learned so much tonight in just 3 miles.

Running was perfect tonight- just as it was.

The beginning.

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