Zen and the Art of the Easy Run

Neighborhood Streets in Denver

I took it out a bit too fast yesterday. Headed out at a pace that felt comfortable at first then progressively got faster. For all intents and purposes this became what Greg McMillan would call a Fast Finish run. A great workout to have in your training program. But this came the day after a 13 mile run, my longest single run, and my biggest mileage week to date since my foot injury in May. Later that night my legs were feeling tight and fatigued.

So today I needed to go easy. E-A-S-Y.

Going easy can be tough. I usually run by how I feel that day. Feeling good, as in yesterday, then go. Feeling not so good, take it for what its worth: a chance to be outside connecting with my surroundings. Strategies for running easy may include: running with a slower friend, being social, or paying close attention to your heart rate monitor.

In Denver where I work during the day, the options for smooth uninterrupted running routes are limited and they can become monotonous over time. So today I figured I would embrace the rest and find a new route. Nothing planned. Just get out and start running.

As I started from downtown, my legs took me in the path of least resistance. Traffic lights determined if I went straight or turned to keep moving. Within a few blocks I was headed towards Coors Field and had in mind I would head north towards the Highlands, but I got turned around when the sidewalk ended at a fence on the west side of the stadium. Instead of back-tracking, I continued around the south then east side of the stadium. Over railroad tracks, newly developed real estate, the South Platte bike path, towards the I-170 and I-25 on-ramps.

Recently I have been running with an iPhone and the iMapMyRun application. The 3.x version has a live map view and photo integration which suites my needs tremendously as I have always enjoyed snapping a few photos to capture the view, a particular moment, or perhaps “jog” my memory about that particular run.

After another mile or so, I looked at the app’s map view to get my bearings. I noticed Chaffee Park was just a few blocks away, so I headed in that direction. When I got there, I looked around for a acceptable photo opportunity.

I snapped a photo, then checked the map for my next “place of interest,” then off I went again, repeating until I circled back around into downtown.

Charting a new course allows you run in areas you might not normally visit, see new things, take in new details, tie back into the flow of running. So next time take a left, or even go straight and go a bit further than you had before. Become comfortable in discovering new territories – building on your confidence to challenge yourself.

If we open ourselves to the universe

On the way home I was listening to a Running Times podcast with Master’s runner and coach Pete Magill, (website: Younger Legs for Older Runners ) who points out the #1 thing masters runners do wrong is run(or any runner for that matter) is go too hard on their easy days, then are not fresh enough for their tough workouts. This mirrors the comment Jeff Galloway made at a recent in-store appearance about how he found it hard to run easy days with Kenyan runners because they went too slow (to start).

Ok guys, I am listening!

Sidebar

Using Google maps when planning a run always turns up something interesting for me. Example, when I traveled to Toronto last year I was out on a run and stumbled upon a dilapidated cinder track that people were still using. A mile or so later, I came across the University of Toronto which had a brand new blue track installed. The diversity caught my attention and it became my mission after that to find and run to a few more tracks throughout the city. I even spotted one on top of a building adjacent to our meeting room.