[This post is part of a series on my daily exercise and starting and keeping challenging habits. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Ten days ago I wrote about running around eight miles for my first run in about three months after hurting my ankle — “Soreness and exhaustion feel great!“. Three days later I ran a nine-and-a-half mile run.
Even having run marathons before, I consider those runs long and big jumps from no running. I’m surprised I did them. I keep asking myself what kept me in shape enough to do them.
The best I can think of is burpees.
Besides burpees, what else can I think of that contributed?
Walking a lot this summer: I decided to stop taking the subway for walks shorter than to about Times Square (when I’m not in a hurry), about a mile-and-a-half. I’ve probably averaged walking about a mile a day, with many three or four mile days. Still, walking barely gets your heart pumping and the longer distances come from multiple walks with breaks between. I don’t think walking contributed much.
Running before hurting my ankle: I had worked up some distance before running, but I don’t see that conditioning lasting three months. Three months is a long time for fitness to atrophy.
Experience running distance: This helps mentally. I think I have a good sense for telling if I’m going to hurt myself from running too far, my ankle injury notwithstanding. Experience means I probably run with good form. I also think I know how to motivate myself through fatigue. Since running long distances doesn’t burn you out like lifting weights or burpees, maintaining motivation for hours contributes a lot. I think a lot of people could work up from never having run to four- or five-mile runs within their first ten runs, but something filled their minds with garbage like that running inherently damages your knees or other ways of thinking they can’t do it.
Running slowly: my main measure of speed is how many people pass me. About four or five people passed me in my lap of Central Park on my second run. Fifteen years ago I would run seven-and-a-half-minute miles for that distance and run many laps of Central Park without anyone passing me. From the clock at Columbus Circle I estimate I ran close to nine-minute-miles, including a couple stops. Running slowly definitely contributed.
Shoes: These Vivo Barefoot shoes get me running without landing on my heels. They’re basically moccasins with no padding so I land on the balls of my feet, which leads to no overall pain like what most people call traditional running shoes cause, which is why I’ll never wear them again. These don’t do that. They’re also the lightest shoes I’ve run in. So the shoes contribute by removing pain and weight from my feet. I recommend shoes like these for everyone.
Still, all of those things don’t add up to nine-and-a-half miles on my second run.
I can’t help but conclude twenty twice-daily burpees gave me at least half that distance. I guess that includes the discipline and determination that goes with never skipping them, even if they only take me a few minutes per day.
(EDIT: I wrote this post nine days ago but scheduled it for today. Since then I ran two five-mile runs and a sixteen-mile run too.)
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