Tomorrow is the day. No pressure is the theme of the hour -- or five. But there's a certain part of me that wants to throw caution to the wind and just set out running as fast as I can. Hey, that first half of the race is pretty flat, and I could bank some serious time ...
But the veteran runner in me knows how that ploy works out. The interest payments on banked time will kill you. And so I will not throw caution to the wind. I will not take off like a speeding bullet. I will take it easy.
Remember, there's no pressure this year. No time goals to stress about. No expectations to live up to. I will run for fun, a leisurely 26.2-mile stroll through the city of Akron. I'll wave to the crowd. I'll high-five some kids. I'll walk when I need to. If the mood strikes me, I may even kick off my shoes.
This year's race might be my slowest marathon, but I refuse to let it be my miserablest. Besides, you never know what's ahead.
But have you ever noticed that running slow can sometimes seem more difficult than just running a comfortable pace? I believe that phenomenon has to do with stride efficiency.
Let's assume the "experts" are correct in saying the most efficient stride rate (or cadence) is 180 or more steps per second. And say that efficient stride nets you a 9:30 per mile pace. Don't you have to slow that rate to run a 12-minute pace? And then aren't you running inefficiently? Shouldn't I try to run as efficiently as possible, regardless of my pace?
While it is true that the reason why running slowly oftentimes seems more fatiguing is because of an inefficient stride rate, running slowly does not preclude running efficiently.
In my web-browsing this morning, I found an article by Ken Mierke, author of The Triathlete’s Guide to Run Training, who alerted me to the importance of maintaining a quick turnover during slower runs. (Drunkard's note: Scroll down to read Mierke's "Maintaining High Turnover When Running Slowly.")
"Running with a slow turnover requires increased vertical displacement, greater contact time with the ground, and more forceful contractions at push-off, all of which impair economy and lead to local muscular fatigue and greater risk of injuries," Mierke writes. "Improving this aspect of technique pays big dividends."
Thankfully, I've been focusing on quick foot turnover all year. "Four steps per second" has been a bit of mantra of mine, regardless of distance. I arrived at this goal as beneficial for barefoot running, but attempted to maintain the cadence even in shoes or alternative foot protection. Now, I must carry that over to the race.
So that is my goal for tomorrow: to run as efficiently as possible and maintain between three and four steps per second. Even if my pace resembles more of a drunken stumble ...
Wherein we hold onto everything
Nitmos thinks hoarding might be one of my humps: "Um, is no one going to comment on the fact that he kept a 'modified' trash bag around for a year? Really? I believe there's an A&E show for folks like you."
Answer: I didn't want it to go to waste ... crap. That's what they all say, isn't it?
Happy Hour is nearly upon us, teammates! Have a finely brewed weekend. Run well and drink well. Cheers!