It just seemed like the right day to do it. After watching Kobe win his 5th title last night and after realizing this was my fifth recorded run, it seemed the stars were aligning for me to do something special. So today, I took off for my first 5 mile run in a long time.
The last time I ran more than three and a half miles was during the ill-fated Turkey Trot 10K in Santa Monica. In the last ten years (without taking into account the third run of the Hood to Coast last year), I don't think I've ever felt worse during a run than I did during the Turkey Trot. Cramps and a total lack of training absolutely destroyed me.
I tend to have the bad habit of assuming I can just go out and do anything. While sometimes this works, usually it tends not to go so well. This trend is what I'm trying to break in these short weeks before the Hood to Coast. So far, training is going much better (and much more consistently) than last year.
Running on the road can be both a blessing and a curse. While stoplights are rarely a problem on the short loop I normally run, they're all over the place on the long loop I did today. The problem with this is that you're constantly having to stop and wait for lights to change. While this can be nice because it gives you a chance to recover for a minute, it also totally kills any momentum you have. As anyone who runs can tell you, stopping and starting just isn't a good technique for running. When you have to wait for a few minutes to run, the next minute or so of running always feels like someone just switched your legs with Gumby's. The bigger problem with roadrunning is that by the time you get back into a groove, sometimes you have to stop again and the cycle continues.
I don't know if this is true for everyone (or anyone) else, but I've noticed that the soreness I feel after running on the road is significantly less than the soreness I feel after running on a treadmill. Now, this could just be due to me pushing myself too hard on a treadmill. Still, I'm not sure that's all there is too it. For a long time, I was noticing that my right knee was hurting during and after treadmill runs. I thought this was either due to my body getting older or due to some kind of error in my running form. But since I've stopped running on the treadmill, I've had absolutely no pain in my knee. Nothing.
Overall, the run felt really good. If nothing else, it was a huge confidence boost. It feels really good knowing that I can still go out and run 5 miles if I want to. Not only that, but I finished the 5 miles in 38:45, which isn't going to break any land speed records, but puts me in range of my projected 10k time which, at this stage of training, is a huge moral victory for me. We're getting there.