When I first started running I was dreadful. Not dreadful as in slow. Obviously I was slow. I’m talking about just running in general. I did a couple 5Ks and couldn’t go the entire distance without stopping for walk breaks. I mean, I couldn’t even go a full mile before my screaming legs and burning lungs forced me to walk (slowly). It was rather embarrassing for someone who didn’t think of themselves as out of shape even though I did no exercising (delusional, right?).
The whole point of running is to actually run. I’ve been walking my whole life (well, all but 1 year of it anyways) so that’s not really very impressive. I felt like a failure every time I had to stop running and walk for a bit when I was out training. Eventually, I built up enough endurance to where I could go 20+ miles without having to walk and I finally felt like a runner. And then a year or so later I was able to work my way up to ultras where walking is not only OK, but encouraged. And while I would walk in races and the occasional long run, deep down I harbored some guilt about having to resort to walking.
It was about this time I heard about Maffetone and running based on your heart rate. The science behind it sounded good. And if it works for champion Ironman triathletes, then it must be just what the
doctor coach ordered. The only problem for me is that this required me to walk all the hills as my heart rate would spike above my target. And my training runs are all rolling hills. So every three to five minutes my watch would beep at me to stop running. I eventually got so tired of my digital nanny beeping at me to start walking that I gave up the whole training by heart rate process. I was a runner dammit and if I wanted to run, then I was gonna run. Intellectually I had learned that it was OK to walk, however emotionally I wasn’t quite there yet.
Fast forward a couple years of running all my runs. . .
I was borderline burned out after the first half of 2018’s racing season. I decided to take some downtime with lower mileage, however that didn’t seem to be the fix I had hoped it would be. My niggles never seemed to go completely away and my legs never felt fresh. After a month or so of no progress I changed things up and decided to slow down my runs instead of just cutting down on miles leading to my Season of Slow. I started walking all the hills and all of a sudden my legs felt good, my mind went to a great place, and I even knocked out a 100 mile PR.
Well, the temperatures have dropped and risen from single digits and I’m still walking pretty much any incline steeper than a wheelchair ramp. It’s funny to think that my current workouts with lots of walking are so aligned with where I am right now, but 3+ years ago they drove me crazy. The difference is that I’m walking when I want to walk now rather than when my watch tells me I have to. Before it was like I was still a little kid and walking was the brussel sprouts of the running world. Well, it seems that I’ve finally grown up and acquired a taste for them.
So my Season of Slow has turned into Seasons of Slow. And it feels good and right. For now. I’ll probably get tired of this and move back the other way at some point over the next couple months, but for now, I’m still enjoying the nice walk breaks during my daily runs.