Monday, March 23, 2009

Running + Simplicity

I got home from work tonight a little before 8pm. It was cold for late March, I'd worked a pretty long day and I'd already worked out the past six days. Still, I went out for a run. Thanks to my injury and the tri training, I haven't run much. In some ways it's been a nice break. Learning new activities is interesting, as is seeing if my fitness translates. My running has suffered. That's OK. I'm still not healed. I expected little from tonight's run. It started bad. The wind was really strong and stung my legs and face. I felt a little tired. But then, when I hit the dirt trails in Riverside for the first time in months, I fell back into it. For whatever reason, I got one of those runs that feels wonderful, clicking off the miles while the mind wanders. It had been a long time since I'd lost myself in a run, but it reminded me what's great about running.

I miss that core simplicity to running. I got home, put on shorts, a shirt and shoes, got my keys and watch and went. I like that. Yes, it's possible to get caught up in the different training regimens, VO2 max levels, lactate threshhold intervals and the rest of it, but at it's core, running is simple. You get out of it, whether that's a PR, losing weight or decreasing stress, what you put in. I firmly believe that.

With the triathlon, I'm facing something a little different. Just getting a bike is a chore. I've learned about carbon forks, shimano, tiagra, brick workouts, etc. The training book I bought looks a lot like a physics textbook. Scheduling workouts to an ironclad schedule seems pretty necessary. I need to plan ahead workouts with what I pack for work. That part of it can be a drag. The tri is many things, simple is not one of them.

Then there's the tri type and the running type. When I see the tri guys work out in Central Park, I see Type A people. Cyclists during a hard workout just look aggressive. They travel in packs and can even yell at people. You don't get that with distance running. It attracts the introspective types that relish the crucible of the lonely long run. I'm looking forward to the rest of training, but I'm pretty certain I don't want to trade being a runner for being a triathlete.


Anonymous said...

We're not all that bad. There are some 'tri-types' that are more like runners. I count myself as one and promise never to yell when pack riding.

Although your running might suffer a little it's quite wonderful to feel your body adapt to three quite different physical activities. I actually think that in the long run (pardon the pun) I will be a better runner as I improve in all three.

Anonymous said...

Brian, I follow you on Twitter for your media musings, but as I've been (and still am in my heart) a triathlete, I occasionally click thru to this blog to see what you're thinking about. I recently made the very challenging decision to sit this tri season out, to "just" be satisfied with running. I was finding triathlon grueling for many of the reasons you've described here, and decided that I wanted to have a break from the regime, the planning, the all-encompassing life ownership of triathlon (which I think is particularly intense and sometimes more monotonous in New York than it might be elsewhere). I wanted to just step out my front door and run. I wish you luck with your first tri season. As tough as it is, I agree with Tash - it's incredibly satisfying, and there are those who do it for the fun, for the satisfaction, and never yell in Central Park or tap your foot impatiently in the pool. I'll return to triathlon. I've done one half ironman and want to do more. For the sport, for the fun. But this year, I'll be picking up where you left off, as a uni-sport, rather than a multi-sport, athlete.