For the past three years or so, my workouts have been devoted to the bike. Though I have a long history with running and I enjoy it, taking bike racing seriously meant focusing every ounce of energy on specific training.
Now that I’m taking a break and working out for fitness rather than competition, I’m trying to run. What I’ve discovered in my past few weeks of struggling to find my feet again is that more than just my running shoes are dusty.
Oh, the legs. This season I’ve been in the shape of my life, bike-wise, but I’m very quickly learning that doesn’t translate to bipedal locomotion. I started off short and slow, knowing that I have a tendency to overdo it and get hurt, but at the end of each sluggish 20-minute jog I felt like I’d just run an endurance race through the desert being chased by cheetahs. Alternating running and cycling workouts, the general muscle soreness wore off in a week or two, but the joint soreness has persisted. All those things that weren’t taking a beating on the bike—the feet, the ankles, the knees—they’re taking a beating now, and they’re letting me know how they feel about it.
One problem was my shoes. I wasn’t sure when I bought my last pair; their original color was unknown, now a neutral shade somewhere between brown and gray. At ATC, Missy Ruthven walked me through the shop’s new selection of run shoes: Altra, Hoka, Zoot, Asics, On, Pearl Izumi, and Newton. I went with the On Cloudsurfers. They’re a little unusual—the CloudTec soles are large knobs, rather than one continuous platform, which looks to me a little like the shoe is sitting on pylons. The On website describes the technology as “intelligently combin[ing] what conventional running shoes have failed to unite: a cushioned landing and a barefoot takeoff.” I find them comfortable, and they seem to fit my feet well, which is enough of a selling point for me. They’re also a nice shade of purple.
ATC has a regular Wednesday run at 6 p.m. They welcome anyone, from uber fast runners like Jeff and Liz Shelton to once-a-week runners like my husband (ahem). The group heads across the park to the Town Lake hike and bike trail for a short loop, some people going four miles and some extending it to six. The pace varies, and it usually splits up quickly. Lately it’s been a very small group because of the heat, with the highlight of the evening being rehydrating with beer at the shop afterward. Some people, in fact, skip the run altogether.
This Wednesday it was just Missy, Will Thompson, my husband, and me. Missy and Will were good sports, allowing us to crash the party with our 15-month-old in a baby stroller. My new shoes felt great on their inaugural trip, and it was my longest run in recent history, about 45 minutes.
If I were to give any running product a negative review, it would be the BOB Revolution stroller. With the wheel locked, it’s very difficult to turn and seems to pull to one side or the other. With the wheel unlocked, it bucks like a rodeo horse if it hits the smallest of bumps. Maybe this is just the way of things with running strollers? I don’t have a basis of comparison. On the bridge over Barton Creek, I hit one of the planks just right and the stroller took a violent diagonal trajectory; we almost ran over a runner coming the other direction, who, fortunately, simply laughed in the face of the danger narrowly averted and kept going.
Missy and Will were running at what felt like a decent clip to me, but I knew it was a recovery pace. This is perhaps the most frustrating thing about starting over again with running. When you first take up jogging, you tend to do it gradually...a mile here, a mile there. For a while you probably think two or three miles is a long way. Slowly, you build up, and your perceptions on pace and distance change, and before you know it, two or three miles is a warmup. I still have the mentality of a seasoned runner—anything less than an hour and anything over 8:30 pace doesn’t seem to qualify as a decent workout—but I have the running fitness of a beginner.
The funny thing is, my mind hasn’t adjusted to running vs. cycling any better than my body has. When I was pushing the stroller up the hill, I kept thinking, “I need to shift, I need to shift.” Later, as I was really starting to tire, I was running behind Missy and Will, assuring myself that I was “in the draft” and could make it if I just held on to the back. Some things are the same, however, at least when you’re running with our disappointment of a stroller—by the end of the run, one of the rear tires had a flat. Roadie-style, I decided to blame my lackluster performance on the equipment malfunction.
Come join us for the ATC run next Wednesday. There’s suffering, good company, and beer, and I hear runners like these things as much as cyclists do.
Note: After the time change on Sunday, Nov. 2, the run starts at 5:30.