On the Road Again…

(If you’ve subscribed to my blog and you’re not interested in running, you can skip this post.  Other than that sort of thing, there’s nothing to see here.)

When it comes to running, I am on the road again!  The groin injury has been healed for some time now.  On July 5 I started a training routine in preparation for the Marshall Marathon on November 6.

During the month of June while I wasn’t running, I contacted Matt Young, a running coach here in the area.  He agreed to work with me, helping me to prepare for a major race and improve my form in the process.  The full Charleston Distance Run isn’t going to happen for me this year — there are too many hills in that race and too few days to train after my recovery.  It will be a good goal for 2012.  This year, my focus will be on the 26.2 mile race in Huntington, which is much flatter than the CDR.

One of the first things Matt recommended was that I make sure I wasn’t heel-striking and over-striding.  By the look of the bottom of my shoes and the injury to my groin, it was very likely I’d been doing both!  At his advice I purchased a new pair of Newton running shoes that encourage a mid-foot strike.  I also started working on increasing my cadence and shortening my stride.  At first there wasn’t much I could do other than hobble for several steps — things were much too painful to run any distance.  Gradually however, I was able to start running shorter distances again with an improved form.

I also read a couple of fascinating books, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and Chi Running by Danny and Katherine Dryer.  Both of them stressed the importance of natural form.  Natural Running by Danny Abshire, the founder of Newton Running, was a third book on the same topic, and offered more practical advice on how to make the transition.

About the same time, Josh, Amy, Jeannie and I all took a trip to the beach on July 9.  Naturally, we spent a lot of time resting and a bit of time in the ocean.  The waves felt great on the leg muscles that were mending. It was very hot and humid, but I managed to get up early and run outdoors a few mornings before the heat was unbearable.  That week at the beach started a new routine for me, because now I get up four days a week at 5:00 a.m. or so and hit the road for my run.  I could sleep later of course, but then I’d have to deal with the heat.  I’d rather just go earlier, enjoy cooler temperatures, deal with less traffic on the roads, and have the run finished for the day.

Jeannie has been super in encouraging me in this new found hobby — she doesn’t even complain (much) if I awaken her when leaving the house so early.  Another source of encouragement has been the dailymile website.  The easiest way to describe it is a “facebook for athletes.”  I log my runs there, my crosstraining classes, and then give and receive encouragement from others who are pursuing similar goals.

Perhaps the best benefit of this whole running thing, in addition to the improved physical condition, is the extended time I have of worship.  I always take my headphones and iPod with me, listening to Christian music.  Its not uncommon for me to be running down a street playing an “air piano” with Keith Green or raising my hands in praise with Chris Tomlin.

We’ll see where all this running leads — I’m excited about the prospect of completing a full marathon in November.  If the training continues to go as well as it has, the distance shouldn’t be a problem.  I’m slowly but surely increasing my mileage each week so I’ll be ready when the race time arrives.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT).

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