What little running I've been doing lately has been a bit on the unstructured side. By that, I mean that I've been trying to force my body into running fast (i.e. intervals) without having any kind of mileage base.
I don't want to come across as being "Joe Expert" when it comes to running. Like all of us, I'm learning all the time — especially when it comes to my own body's response to running. But I will say this: having been a runner (off and on) since the late 1970's, I know that a skyscraper can't be built without a foundation. Fast running can't safely and effectively be developed without first building a base.
It's been obvious, if you've read any of my ramblings from earlier this year, that my heart hasn't been that much into running lately. The last two years have been incredibly frustrating for me. I've tried to build some kind of running program that will allow for improvement (or at least some semblance of a "return to form"), while not aggravating my perpetually injured heel. I somewhat cavalierly thought that I may be able to PR in the 5k this year, even while running limited mileage. Well, it appears that my version of "limited" is a bit TOO limited. At 45 years of age, my body doesn't want to bust out sub-7 minute miles while only recording 10 miles (or less) of running per week. Go figure.
Which brings me to the topic in the title of this post. I need to scrap the notion of speed (for the most part), and try to reconstruct my aerobic base. Today, I ran an easy 3.4 mile run (with my crazy dog) at a very slow pace. I wanted to see what it would take to keep my average heart rate within my Zone 2 (roughly 125-135 bpm). What an eye-opener! I had to run 10:17 per mile pace to do it. But I actually had fun doing it. I wasn't struggling (as I have been during recent runs), yet I felt like I accomplished something. I'd like to see if I can continue on this path and keep my heart rate low while gradually increasing my average pace. Kind of an informal Mark Allen/Phil Maffetone approach. I'll still run some 5k races (I have one coming up this weekend), but without the intent of gunning for a PR.
Even to a novice runner, this seems like common sense. And even though I've been a runner for 30+ years, I often need to take a step back and return to basics. Given my current physical limitations, this is one of those times.
And, for a change, I'm okay with it.