Monday, August 3, 2015

Rob: The Non-Science Of Returning To Half Marathons

Drum roll please.....After a two year hiatus from the half marathon scene, I recently signed up for one this October.

That's right, back on the crazy train some call distance running and others simply refer to as silliness.

I can already see the gaping jaws and multitudes of questions swirling around:

Why would you want to run 21.1kms (13.1 miles) again after having done it before?;
You do know it's 21 kilometers right?;
Why did you ever stop running half marathons?; and
Runners are crazy!

Okay, the last one's not really a question, but I'm sure some people are thinking it.

The reality is I have been a semi-consistent runner for more than four years, but only ran two half marathons way back in 2012. At the time, I felt I had good reasons to walk away from distance running. They seemed simple, but were actually deceptively complex. Okay, maybe not that complex.

Why did I stop running half-marathons?

1. In 2013, I ran my first and only full marathon and honestly, the commitment and physicality took it's toll. While the half is a much shorter race, ever since, I think subconsciously, I have been shying away from all longer distances.  

2. I also suffered a minor injury to my foot during that marathon which kept me off the roads for about a month. I think it also took some of my running mojo. Picture a middle aged man hobbling around and belly-aching like a spoiled toddler about my sore foot. It was not pretty.

3. I live in Canada. The winters are bitter, cruel and while I can do it, I hate running in the cold. The thought of two hour training runs in a winter wonderland or on the treadmill at the gym just makes me cringe. With limited motivation, this has realistically limited my half marathon training.

4. I keep having kids and I think we all know what gigantic time stealers children can be. Seriously though, I'm sure there is a formula to calculate available time based on number of children:

3k >/ (1+1+1) - ft = 0 where ft represents free time and k represents children

 5. Apparently I'm also completely addicted to renovating. Averaging at least one room per year. It's truly amazing how renovating can seriously contribute to limiting the time and energy available for committed running.

Honestly, I don't think there is one single thing that led me to limp away from the half marathon distance. I even started training for one the year before last, but got side tracked by a kitchen, a basement and a baby.

I changed tactics this year and tried to concentrate on 5km and 10km runs, but it just wasn't the same. I'm slow and will always be slow, so running short distances to improve time just doesn't compute for me. I'm sure Newton's laws of physics clearly state:

A slowpoke in motion may remain in motion, but will still be slow as molasses.

All right, those seem like fairly good reasons to stay away from the half marathon, so why the change of heart? If you don't have the time and are such a prima donna that you won't run in the winter, what changed? Again, I think the reasons seem simple but are deceptively complex. Okay, not that complex.

Why decide to run another half marathon?

1. Without a goal like a half marathon, it felt like my running had lost focus. Something was missing. While I was happy to get out and just go for a run, I needed something more. Something that would motivate and challenge me.

2. The half marathon is like the kid brother of runner's street cred; not quite as cool as its older brother the full marathon, but still pretty bad ass. I figure if I'm going to blog about running, I need more street cred. It was starting to feel a little like, "Yeah you run, but what have you done for me lately?"

3. I'm turning 40 this October and really wanted to fill in one last race registration form in the 30-39 category before moving up a class. It's a well known fact that 39 year old slow half marathon runners can be totally mediocre: "I do it because it's an excuse to get out of the house or I run because my wife said I need to get in shape." 40+ half marathon runners on the other hand, need to be totally hard core. 

4. My wife completed her first half marathon last Spring and during her training we bought a treadmill for the basement which I ended up using a lot. Goodbye cold winter runs or trips to the gym and hello Netflix action movies. Bring on Ninja Robots I through VI.

5. I not so secretly want another crack at a full marathon after a less than stellar performance last time but am still unwilling to make the commitment to the full. However, I have used my brilliant high school math skills to come up with a formula that might just work for me:

Fall Half + Spring Half = Strong Base 
Strong Base = Fall or Spring Marathon

So there you have it. I think the math and science clearly speaks for itself and has left me no choice but to return to half marathon running. Now I just need to remember to not have more kids or take on any massive renovation project in the next 3 to 18 months.

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