Let me begin by providing some background on my husband Jason’s running. He ran his first 5k in June 2012 when we lived in Jermyn, courtesy of me talking him into it. He ran 2 more that summer. He’s never been a stranger to working out, and having been in the Army National Guard for 6 years he was familiar with long miles logged on marches. To watch him run one would think he’s a natural as his form is quite good. His height and build make me think he would’ve been a standout 800m or 1600m runner in high school, had he chosen to participate in track.
I don’t think Jason has ever considered himself a runner in the sense that I do, but rather he runs if he’s in the mood to do so. Some years this means he runs quite a bit. Other years he will go months with maybe one or two runs under his belt. He actually ran a half marathon by himself on the York Rail trail a few years ago. If I recall he has ran a personal best of 23-something in a 5k back when he ran more often and raced more regularly. I would love to know what he would be capable of running if he committed to training regularly. However he much prefers DailyBurn workouts and weight lifting.
For the past month Jason and I have been running together every Saturday. He was only running sporadically and hadn’t ran all winter. I told him if he wanted to run the Cancer Crushin 5k and Turkey Hill Country Classic 10k that he needed to start getting some longer miles logged. He also threw out the idea of running the Dumb Dutchman half marathon since my dad and Armand plan on running it.
If Jason’s inconsistent training is annoying as a runner to watch, his lack of pacing himself is infuriating. He is a jack rabbit as soon as a run begins wanting to go out hard from the very start believing that every run is a race against himself. While I admire his drive to push hard, any distance runner knows pacing is a key element to long runs. Too often in the past our intended 5-6 mile runs have changed to 4 because he’s gone out way ahead of me and been too tired to finish.
A few weeks ago we went running with my dad on the Northwest Lancaster River Trail intending to run at least 6 miles. Our first mile was at a good pace, but during the second mile I watched as Jason began pulling further ahead of me. My dad stayed with him and I called out that they were pushing pace too much. Sure enough when my Garmin beeped the second mile the pace had increased by at least 30 seconds. Jason made the argument that he didn’t feel like he was running any faster, but by the time the fourth mile came around he was hurting. Dad and I ended up completing 6.5 miles while Jason threw in the towel around 5.75.
The “you need to stop going out so hard” lecture has been given to Jason by myself and my dad. I don’t think he intentionally ignores our advice. It’s just in his mind he is in shape from his other workouts and if he feels good then his pace is fine. I can’t say too much as I was guilty of similar thinking during the Hands on House half marathon last fall despite my first few mile splits indicating otherwise.
Yesterday Jason and I set out for the river trail once more for our long run. Originally we planned to run on the York Rail trail, but the increasing temperatures made us want a shadier route. We were aiming for a minimum of six miles with a preferred distance of seven. Jason mentioned maybe eight, but I didn’t take him seriously given how the run with dad on that trail had gone.
One difference in this run was that Jason had ordered a sleeve to hold his cell phone on his arm while running so that he could listen to music. I hoped any upbeat tempo songs wouldn’t cause him to increase his pace more than he should. He told me at the start of the run to let him know once we hit 3.5 miles. I knew we wouldn’t be talking during the run, but I reminded him to let me control the pace that I would aim for 9-9:30 per mile. I hoped being the water/sport drink carrier would be reason enough for him to not get too far ahead of me.
The first mile we ran nearly side by side. During the second mile he started to pull away again and I called after him, but of course he couldn’t hear me. Fortunately he did glance back and I motioned to slow the pace and he did. I remained a few steps behind him, but not the feet that I had been. Throughout the third mile he would start to edge ahead then realize he was gaining too much ground and ease up. I was by his side as we approached the 3.5 mark and he responded with “Let me know when we hit 4”. Slightly surprised but feeling ok, I agreed with the plan while expecting him to end up deciding seven was enough on our way back.
We reached our turn around point and I noticed his breathing wasn’t as labored as it had been on past runs indicating that his cardiovascular endurance was improving, and he was benefiting from my controlled pacing. At mile five he told me to let him know when we reached mile six. He began to pull ahead of me and stopped checking on my location. I couldn’t tell if he was picking up the pace, or if I was slowing. My left knee began to twinge and my legs were heavy and reminded me that I haven’t been running near as much during track season. I moved to the side of the trail, hoping the softer ground would alleviate some of my fatigue.
When my Garmin beeped mile six I realized I had indeed slowed the pace beyond a 9:30. Jason was at least 200m ahead of me by that point and I worried I wouldn’t be able to catch him to supply him with the sport drink. My legs slowly began to feel better and I resumed running on the macadam trail. I gradually picked up the pace and a slight uphill over a wooden bridge provided me the benefit of reeling in Jason. We were almost at seven miles. The last mile I took the lead as Jason began to fatigue a bit. Part of me wanted to increase the pace because I was feeling better, but knew it was best to hold steady for his sake. We finished the full eight miles together, a distance I was not mentally prepared to run when the day began or even when our run began.
I gave Jason props for completing the distance and for maintaining such a good pace during it. I thanked him for following my cues to ease up the pace when needed and he agreed it helped him to feel better for longer during the run. I feel more confident going into the 10k having gotten that long of a run completed. I’m still on the fence about running the half marathon in June, and I think Jason may be more leery now after feeling how much the eight miles could hurt. There is a “half a half” race option that day, so I told him if anything we could just run that instead. He wants to wait until after the 10k to make any decisions. That is fine with me, and I will continue to help pace him if he decides he wants to tackle the full half.
Do you run or workout with your significant other? Do you find it hard to run beyond a certain distance if you haven’t planned to run that at the start?