On the Run Again …

I used to be a runner. Not a very good or fast runner, but a runner nonetheless. I was mostly on again and off again before trying to dedicate myself a little more a few years ago. That didn’t go well and I found myself injured. That’s when I began cycling and have never looked back.

After discovering my passion for riding, I wondered whether I would ever run again. Why did I ever run in the first place? In fact, I would say that I have hated running.

That said, I have been running again. It all started innocently enough. I was hitting the gym regularly for my strength training. I started mixing in some cardio exercises, mostly elliptical machines. Those things get boring and I get a weird numbness in my feet after awhile, so I started walking on the treadmill. The walk became faster and faster until I found myself at a brisk jog. To my surprise, it didn’t hurt. I kept going and for the last few weeks, I have been supplementing my workouts with the occasional run.

Now that I am working on base miles, the goal for this weekend was to get a little bit of easy riding. Mother nature intervened and that didn’t happen. When I went to vote in the primary on Saturday, I found my usual polling place closed because of an 8k running event. Hmmm. I researched that event while waiting in the voting line and decided to give it a shot. An 8k would be a lot, but I knew I would be able to walk a good portion if needed. No worries if it rained a bit. That might even help.

The weather became worse. A light drizzle became a torrential downpour right before registration time. I was not going to risk injury by running on wet roads with inexperienced legs. Instead I decided to run the 8k anyway, but this time under the covered shelter of my local gym. I loaded my phone with some listening material and headed out the door.

The good thing about a treadmill is it allows for easy pacing. I started at a light jog around 5 mph. That went well for a mile and I picked it up in the second mile to 5.5 mph, then 6 mph, then a little higher. As I watched the miles tick away, still feeling good, I played with some faster paces. A couple times I brought it up to 7 mph for a short while, before bringing it back to 5 mph in order to recover. I found that I was keeping a decent amount of energy and gradually increasing my pace. The first mile was 12 minutes; the second was 11, and the third 10.

Even though I was tempted, I did not stop jogging until I got to 5k. At that point, satisfied that I would make the 8k without trouble, I walked for two minutes before getting back to the jog. Starting to tire, I kept the pace down between 5-5.5 mph for the 4th mile.

For the 5th mile, I was both tired and impatient. I wanted to get this thing over and done with, but I was also about ready to explode. So I mixed up my speed again and even pushed into the 8mph range on a couple occasions. Finally I finished, drenched in sweat. My 8k time was just over 55 minutes, which I was more than proud of.

I’m curious how this will affect me on the bike. These past few weeks I have struggled a bit on certain climbs because of my out-of-shape lungs. This might help. I’ll keep running here and there for cross-training, but I can safely say that I will not change sports just yet.

6 responses to “On the Run Again …

  • bgddyjim

    I find that running helps cycling and vice versa. Cycling is certainly more enjoyable for me as well but I’m not getting on a bike with three inches of snow on the ground.

    I never loved running either, but it’s kept me light and fit.

    Good luck with it.

    • aaronwest

      Thanks for commenting. I had done a lot of reading about running helping cycling, but I also heard that it only helps to a certain extent. And that if you are going for cycling fitness, you shouldn’t skip rides to run. Probably when the season hits I’ll try to mix in a run a week as cross-training. But it’s a great alternative for bad weather.

  • Theresa @ActiveEggplant

    Good for you! Like the commenter above, running helps my cycling and cycling helps my running. But I will likely always enjoy cycling much MUCH more than running!

    And I must say, the same thing happens to me on the elliptical machine – after about 10 or 15 min my feet fall asleep!

    • aaronwest

      A friend of mine has a sports medicine degree and he said that’s because the foot muscles aren’t being engaged. I’ll usually hit the elliptical at a high level to get the most out of it and move to the treadmill or stair thingie when my foot feels weird. Oddly enough, I hate gym bikes.

  • Greg Larkin

    Our primary sports are cycling in the summer and Nordic skiing in the winter in the Northeast. We also add a fair amount of trail running in the shoulder seasons, and even when the trails are hard-packed with snow from snowmobile traffic. Starting in the fall when the trails are softer helps us transition into running without as much impact on the joints.

    Get a pair of Kahtoola spikes or the Icespike.net kit, and you can go anywhere, even glare ice. We find that trail running helps a lot with the core muscle groups, as well as balance and agility for Nordic skiing. It’s also just plain fun!

  • aaronwest

    Now that is a cross-training plan! We get some cold weather in the mountains here, but probably not to the level where we can train like you. Sounds like a blast!

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