Timed Runs, Pacing, Form, Progress

So, race season is officially over for me. I don’t have anything else lined up until April 1st 2017 when I will complete the famous Monument 10k. I have been meaning to make it back to a track to test myself and see where my mile time is. I know it’s not where I would have wanted it to be at this point, but I am pretty often unrealistic and overly ambitious with my goals. Despite not having anything official to gauge myself on I can say that I am at least improving. In addition to my regular strength training workouts, I have started running a couple of times a week. I have a problem though with always wanting to overdo things; the thought that more/harder is always better, which is often not the case. To help with this I have been limiting my runs to twenty minutes. Whatever distance I cover in that time is the distance I run for that day. This prevents me from pushing myself too hard on days where I am not feeling 100%. Previously I would always want to beat or match my distance from the run before. I still want to push myself to go a little further in that time frame, but twenty minutes of running is twenty minutes of running; there is only but so much damage I can do in that amount of time. I find that this also helps me with my pacing. I tend to always go out too hard in the beginning and I’m dying by the end of the run. I’ve been trying to run out for ten minutes and then run back in ten minutes. The only ‘pushing’ I do is to try to make it back to the starting point within the twenty minutes. This way, even though I am tired, I am forced to maintain the pace of the first ten minutes. It’s been going really well. I have had some up days and down days, but overall I am trending faster and that is a good feeling.

I’ve been using the runs as a way to improve my running. I am really trying to focus on my breathing. I am definitely a mouth breather and that has always been a big problem. A dry mouth, sore throat, and a side stitch are never helpful to a runner. I’ve been trying to breathe only through my nose and to keep my breaths deep and steady. I’m also focusing on doing more diaphragmatic breathing rather than my usual shallow chest breathing. It’s hard to fix this though, especially since my respiratory system has always been my problem. I’ve also been focusing on form. My biggest problems right now are probably lack of core engagement and foot strike. I don’t think I am the worst heel striker around, but I do notice that I do it way more often than I’d like to. I recently got a set of ShoeCue inserts. Since I am in need of a new pair of running shoes anyway I am going to wait until I get the shoes until I start using them, but I am excited about eliminating the heel strike! As for the core engagement, that’s another tough one. My core collapsing happens so naturally and it’s difficult for me to focus on it when I am focusing on everything else. I need to do more core work on my strength training days but finding time for everything is proving to be difficult. The less egregious form mistakes are keeping my shoulders down and preventing my arms from crossing my midsection. I don’t find them to be as critical so I am mostly focused on the other ones for now, but I try to be mindful of them as much as I can.

I am pretty pleased with my progress though. Not only are the runs starting to feel a little easier, but they feel easier while I am covering a longer distance. I have been noticeably less sore recently than when I first started. So I am moving faster, covering a longer distance and am less and less sore. That’s exciting progress!! I really think that being in ketosis is helping out with this a great deal. There have been two runs that I’ve done on days after having a higher carb day and they both were pretty miserable. It’s remarkable how much of a difference it makes. Those days were the much more familiar heavy breathing, suffering, twisting and jerking runs than the strong confident runs that I have had while in ketosis.  So just how much progress does this all amount to?  My first run, which was just about a month ago, I had an average pace of 11:17 per mile. My most recent run I had an average pace of 9:54 per mile! That means that I officially ran two miles in under twenty minutes which is thrilling!! To put it into better perspective, in my Evaluation post I ran my first timed mile at 9:45 and now I am running two miles at a 9:54 pace! Also keep in mind that these runs are not on a flat surface. Overall there isn’t much elevation change but the hills that are present are definitely slowing me down. I am excited to get back to a track and see what I can actually do now. I don’t want to be too ambitious, but if I can pace two miles at 9:54 I think I am can do one in pretty close to 9 minutes flat. That’s the goal at least. Then there is only a measly 4 more minutes to chop off, too easy!!

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