Sand, Sun and Run = Fun
I try to avoid the treadmill like the plague. If you plan on racing outdoors, you need to run outdoors as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong; there is a time and place for this human gerbil wheel. In fact, I work for the fitness company who I believe, make the best treadmill on the market and give you the most realistic feel from indoors to out. Hell, I’m even the running coach on that treadmill and I LOVE IT! The treadmill provides a safe runway on those icy days where walking down the sidewalk is challenge enough and the Lakefront path is closed because it is covered with 4 inches of packed ice. It provides me my hills for my training, since living downtown Chicago hills are a challenge to come by. Busy people who slip away for their “healthy lunch” and have slim windows of opportunity to train; a treadmill is there to provide you that time. Mom’s and Dad’s who can’t get out of the house because leaving your children home alone for a few hours is wrong – the treadmill is there. But what a treadmill can never give you is the real feel of pushing off the ground, forcing you to maintain your own pace or environment. You can’t get the real training experience your body needs to perform at its optimum potential if you don’t put in miles outside. Given you have the time and the ability – outdoor is the way to go.
For the past two days, I have been lucky enough to trade in my lined running tights, long sleeve shirts, rain jacket and ear covers, sloppy wet shoes and cash in for running shorts, sports bra, sun block and sunglasses. No music necessary when you have the rhythm of the crashing waves at your side. No need for a running buddy to help keep you motivated when you have the smell of the salty sea air, the sun warming your skin and the breeze to keep you from getting to hot. Hundreds of spectators along the beach watching you run by is enough pressure to keep you from backing off when you feel like you’ve had enough.
I hadn’t practiced hills for awhile and mainly because my run in Lanzarote is fortunately a flat course. But I felt like I needed to change something up and what not a better way to practice but a Beach Run; in the sand, making your legs feel thick and heavy, like you are stuck and moving through muck. The Beach – and running along the water’s edge, where every crashing wave the earth starts to pull away from you and your workout becomes a race between you and the earth. If you slow down, you will surely be sucked into this violent salty water abyss, where I saw evidence that a seal had lost its battle. If you beat it; running fast enough, keenly enough, agile enough to not get sucked in – you survive to get to do it again the next day. There is a bonus too; you get stronger and faster!
I had planned on running 18 miles last night, but planned changed as soon as I became tempted by this challenge of the sand. Quickly I passed up the boardwalk and headed straight to the water’s edge, setting my trusty Garmin up for a 9 mile race. 8:45 pace will suit me fine, I thought as I headed in the direction of Malibu with the wind in my face. First mile – 9:15, second – 8:50, third – 8:35, forth – 8:30, fifth through eighth 8:23; I was on fire as I raced the earth beneath my feet! I felt so free, so liberated, focus and proud of myself. For this last mile I was going to take on the fluffy sand pit, racing from the boardwalk to the water’s edge until I cleared my final mile; mile nine – 8:33, and the hardest of them all! Still, I felt amazing, along with my throbbing calves, hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors…OUCH! (I am going to pay for this tomorrow.)
After my run I dumped the beach out of my shoes, cleaned myself up and went to an amazing dinner with a new-found friend. Waking up today, excited about how my day went yesterday – I had to do it again! I laced up, out to the beach to repeat what I had done the day before. The lactic acid in my legs had not quite settled in (which will after my 5 hours of flying today, I am sure), so I set off for my second day of running in the sand. Racing the earth beneath me for six miles and setting my pace this time to 8:30. Success after success with each mile that had passed, it was a good run. It has started off to be a good day.
I am starting to believe that I am ready for my Ironman. I am starting to feel that I might even PR my Ironman on one of the toughest courses in the world. I think I am starting to believe in myself…and that is a good feeling to have.