This article, written by Dave Dunham, originally appeared in our March/April 2015 magazine issue.
When I’m out on my long runs, I have time to think about things—all kinds of things but most of them are about running. Some are curmudgeonly and others are not. So here are some thoughts (in no particular order) that I’ve had while out on my daily jaunt (I’ll never call it a jog; see next page). As you will see some “interesting” thoughts pop into my head, which begs the question: should I really be doing these long runs alone?
Dog owners who say “he doesn’t bite” just don’t get it. I’m much more worried about getting tripped than being bitten and I’ve had both happen. My reply to the dog owner who says “he doesn’t bite” is “I do.”
Back in the day I would do “step-down” runs where I’d up the tempo every mile. Now it seems that every run is a step-down workout. It takes me at least two miles to loosen up and it isn’t unheard of for my first mile and last mile to have a two minute differential.
Garmin and Strava are both great. I purchased a Garmin this year and figured I’d only use it for riding the ElliptiGo. I was wrong. Strava is entertaining to use and I’m hooked. Checking out segments, setting goals, and achievements is addictive. I’m an information junkie and Strava is now one of my fixes. If Strava doesn’t motivate you to get out the door than nothing will.
Warrior dashes, mud runs, paint runs, and their ilk are great if they motivate people to get off the couch and exercise. But you are fooling yourself if you call them a race. They are as much a “race” as a group workout on the track is a track meet.
Is there any thing better after a hot humid run than an ice cold Mountain Dew? Running from my training partner’s (Dan Verrington) office has the added bonus of a well stocked fridge that I’ve often taken advantage of. If you are searching for a training partner what he has to offer for post-run drink should be a top priority.
The Green Mountain Athletic Association had exponential growth at the GMAA 15k this year. The first running of the race last year drew less than 100 finishers; this year they had over 400. A high percentage of the field was USATF-NE runners. That shows how hardcore the runners who take part in the Grand Prix series are. They turned out in large numbers for a race well outside of the major concentration of USATF-NE clubs. GMAA did a fine job hosting this rarely raced distance.
It starts and ends with being part of a team. If you are running unattached you are missing out on the fun. There are clubs for everyone. Go out and find the one that’s right for you. If there isn’t one doing the things you are interested in you are not looking hard enough.
The only thing better than having a consistent training partner is have time to run alone. I’ve been fortunate enough to have an excellent and frequent training partner. It is rare indeed to find someone who has a similar training pace and racing goals. The miles pass so much easier when sharing the load. The rare lone run gives the opportunity to focus on “self” and follow your own rhythms. Since I run twice a day most every day I always have some alone time.
As I get slower it seems that I have a single pace that I can hold. I recall going out hard in races and then trying to hang on. Nowadays I hit the pace I can maintain in the first mile and rarely slow significantly. The good part of that is passing a lot of people who zip out; the drawback is that I have no kick because I’m kicking the whole way. Anyone close to me near the end of a race will inevitably out-kick me.
One of the funniest lines I’ve heard recently at a race starting line has to be this gem from Craig Fram (WRT). We were about ten rows back at the start of the Lone Gull 10k when he noted, “I remember when I could see the starting line.”
I used to hate the idea of wearing headphones while running. The thought of it made me cringe. Now whenever I run alone I wear my iPod shuffle. The big change is that now I get how pleasant running with music can be. Now I don’t understand people who run in a group AND wear headphones. Maybe that is where I’ll be at in another ten years?
The secret to racing faster is pretty simple: just run more. Maybe that is a bit too simple but I guarantee results. Of course if you get injured from running too much then you aren’t running at all. So, maybe the real secret is finding balance. I’ve never had balance so I really can’t judge that. When in doubt JUST RUN.
Getting out the door is the toughest part of running. Although I’d never even consider the idea of not running, some days that first step out the door can be tough. I’ve found the best way to combat that is to have someone waiting to run with me or to just don’t go home until I’ve finished running.
What is up with people who say “only?” As in “I only went 12 today.” To me, this is a subtle way of saying “Usually I do a lot more but…” This comes across as a putdown. I try to avoid using “only.”
Why do some races disallow double-dipping? If someone is good enough to crack the top whatever to win a prize or some cash that is no reason to take him out of his age group. When a master is fast enough to win the overall race, he should still be listed as the master’s champion in addition to the overall winner. I’ve seen races take as many as the top ten finishers from any age group awards. That is just ridiculous. I’ve been named the master’s champion when multiple 40+ runners finished in front of me. I find that embarrassing.
I’ve always like out and back runs; there is something about reaching that turn and realizing that every step gets me closer to home. It always seems easier on the way back.
Verrington likes exploring, heading out with no set route, which I despise. We run together almost every day which is kind of funny since we are polar opposites when it comes to where we like to run. Fortunately for me we often run from Dan’s work and have one course that is our staple.
This was a glimpse inside my head, a place that is best visited in for short periods of time to avoid overexposure. Be careful out there and just run!
Read more of Dave Dunham’s musings at his regularly updated blog.
If you would like to read more from the March/April 2015 issue, click here.