Monday, January 10, 2011

Rats in a maze

Yesterday was the day of my long run. On the plan was 14km (8.7mi). On the weather forecast was cold temperatures; with windchill it was supposed to be -30c (-22f). I emailed my running buddy Jen, and asked her if she was running and whether I should HTFU. Much to my relief, she wasn't up for running 14k outside either.

Then it was a question of how and when to do it. I'm now at a point where simply skipping a workout isn't an option. I have to figure out where else to fit it in. After some deliberation, we decided to run at the track. 4.5 laps of the track equals 1 km, so to do 14km, we would have to do 63 laps. SIXTY-THREE.

Running at the track isn't terribly inspiring. Going around and around in circles makes me feel like I'm a rat trapped in somebody's science experiment. I do run there, because it makes sense and there are times when it just doesn't work well to go outside. But, it's mind numbing and the most I'd done there before was about 6 km. Thank goodness I had company.

Jen and her husband Garry made the drive out to meet me. (The track in my town is less expensive and less busy.) According to Garry, we were "too slow" to run with though, so we just saw him when he lapped us.

I used my garmin to keep track of the laps. No way would I be able to keep count in my head! The first 15 laps weren't too rough. It makes such a difference to have somebody to run with. We took a quick bathroom break after 15 - at least there's some benefit to running inside: the availability of facilities. Then it was back to the grindstone.

Around 30, we took another quick break. I was feeling like there was something poking me in the arch of one foot. I didn't find it, but after taking my shoe off, the poking feeling went away, so that was good.

Towards the middle of our workout, we saw one of the top triathlon coaches in Western Canada show up. That made me feel a bit better about being at the track. If she wasn't tough enough to run outside, it didn't make us look so bad. For a while she was lapping us almost every lap, but hey, if you're going to be lapped by somebody, why not her?

After a while, we were both starting to feel the effects of the track. This track has sharper corners then many, so enough running on it, and it does start to get hard on your knees and ankles. We stopped a couple times to stretch out the aches and then kept going. Every half hour, the traffic flow switches direction.

Finally, we were coming into the home stretch, and we were both feeling it. This was the longest run either of us have done to date, so both our energy levels and muscles were being worked. In some ways, running on a track can be easier, but in others, it's more of a challenge. I also concluded that any runs this distance or longer would need more refueling. Truthfully, it probably would have helped a lot to have an energy drink or do a gel.

After lap 55, things were hurting, but we both knew we were nearing completion. After lap 60 though, it started feeling easy again. There's a high to knowing you're almost there. When we were at 62 3/4, Jen suggested we gun it. I took off with way more energy then I realized I had left, and we were done.

And Garry? Well, he might be faster then us, but he's not tougher. ;) He stopped about 6 laps short of 63 because he couldn't take it anymore...

Would I do it again? Quite possibly. Unfortunately, it's a reality of living in this climate. There are times when running outside is truly impractical. Having said that, I can't say I enjoy running at the track, and a long run like that, going in circles, is difficult both physically and mentally. It's a good lesson in why we run outside when we can. Despite frigid temperatures this week, I'm planning on sucking it up and doing most of my running outside.

I don't need to be a rat anymore often then necessary.


  1. You guys are troopers! I think the most I have run on a track was 5k? I think I might hate the track more than the treadmill... but maybe it would be better with a running buddy.
    Where is the track in Cochrane?

    I did my long run on the treadmill yesterday- glad I wasn't the only one who bailed on an outdoor workout!

  2. I don't mind some colder temps...but that freakin way! I'm not sure I could be as tough as you to do it on the track either. Way to go.