Running – a new era

I haven’t blogged about my running since the end of 2012. So this is a bit of a departure. Back then I was giving my year end running review and was rather proud of myself for breaking my yearly record. Ever since I started running in earnest I have been recording how long I run each time out. 2012 marked a significant highpoint for me. Indeed, I managed 30% more running that year than any previous year I had on record. But that highpoint was followed by, first, a lessening, and then a substantial drop-off as life (and death) distracted me from my regular routine. This year, I’ve regained my form and gone to a whole new level. Earlier this month, on 11 June, I surpassed my 2012 yearly total. With more than six months left in the year, every time I go for a run now I’m breaking new ground.

How did I manage this?

Mostly I just wasn’t thinking about it. In the late autumn of 2016, I took up running on the track at the Waterloo Recreation Complex a few times a week. By December I had increased my usual outing from 30 minutes to 50 minutes. Then I started adding stairs. I was seeing a fair number of people running the stairs and thought I’d give it a try as well. It’s not as easy as it looks! But it’s not as hard as you might imagine as well.

For Christmas, my wife gave me a FitBit Charge 2. It is one of the ones that tracks your heart rate. I was very curious about whether my heart rate was in a healthy range during my runs. It turns out that it was just fine. The FitBit had a secondary effect, however. One of the things it facilitates is very simple logging of one’s weight and diet. So I started recording my weight each day and being a bit more conscientious about not over-snacking. Modest reductions in my food intake almost immediately had a dramatic impact on my weight. Combine this with the fact that I’d also increased my standard run and one thing led to another.

Over four months I shed 30 lbs. As the weather improved, I moved my running outdoors. Again Fitbit added an incentive. The Charge 2 interacts with my smartphone so that, if I have the phone with me on a run, I am provided with a Google map of my route at the end and an accurate record of the distance and split times for each kilometre.

The last time I had run 10 km was during the Oxford Town and Gown fun run in 2006. According to my log book, I ran that 10 km in 61 minutes and 22 seconds with rain falling throughout and a temperature of 11c. And that was my best 10 km time to date.

This year, with my FitBit Charge 2 on my wrist and my smartphone strapped around my waist, I mapped out a few 10 km routes and decided to attempt to make this my new basic training run. I convinced myself that this would be much easier now that I was 30 lbs lighter. I ran my first 10 km on 29 March while visiting Providence Bay on Manitoulin Island. Needless to say it was rather cold up there at that time of year. But much to my surprise the time for the run was 60 minutes. Wow! 11 years after my last attempt at 10 km, I was able to run it more than a minute faster.

As the weather warmed up so did my times. Today my standard run is about 10.3 km. I usually complete that in 58 minutes. So I’m probably managing the 10 km in about 56 minutes. And I’ve done that 20 times already.

It’s a whole new era. I wonder where I’ll go from here.

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