Grinding it out

Keep cranking, keep cranking. In a couple of hours, it will all be over.

Sometimes long runs are a joy and a blessing. Other times, they are just a grind.

And every now and then, you get a mix, all in one run.

I ran 16 miles today, my longest distance in months. For the first three miles or so, I just couldn’t loosen up. Every step was an effort. Then the next seven miles blew by, easy as you please, as I got into the zone.

Then the last four or five miles, I got a bit tired. I had to dig down and get the job done.

I think part of the issue was that just yesterday, I ran a seven-mile trail loop that was fun but took more out of me than I expected, with dozens of short hills that required bursts of speed and strength. I enjoyed that run, but doing 23 miles within 24 hours was maybe a bit much.

My run today was on the flat, easy towpath.

The Canal Towpath: The scene of today's barrel of laughs.

 While it was easy on my legs, it was tough on my mind. I’ve run this towpath more than 100 times and I’m starting to get bored with it. Within the past two weeks, I’ve probably run it five or six times, including last weekend’s long run.

It’s probably time to freshen things up. Next weekend, I’ll pick another course.

My time today was 2:13:28.

***********************************************************

A few days ago, a running friend told me he liked looking all the photos that I post on this blog. But he wondered whether it was a good idea for me to carry a camera along on my runs and stop to shoot so many photos. Wasn’t I compromising my workouts and races?

That’s a fair question.

Before I started this blog, I never had an urge to take a camera with me on runs. It was enough to enjoy the moment, and concentrate on my workout. I didn’t need to keep my eyes open for photo ops.

But these days, I guess like to share some of the beauty of the trails with my friends and family, and whoever else happens to tune into this blog. I think trails are the best venue for running, and I am on a mission from God to spread the word.

Part of that is just showing people who never ventured off of pavement how much beauty and fun there is in following a trail through the woods or around a lake. I can tell them until I’m blue in the face. But I think a picture is worth 1,000 words.

digitalSo, yes, I do take a bunch of photos. But no, not on every run.

 I have a rule of thumb: I take a camera with me only on easy days and fun runs. If it’s a serious race or a tough workout, I won’t .

For example, if I’m taking part in a relay race, where other team members are counting on me, I’ll leave the camera in the car, and only take photos during down times — before and after my legs, for example. When I ran the Dances with Dirt, I took plenty of photos during breaks, but ran as hard as possible when it was time to run.

When I’m running a tough race or workout, I’ll do what needs to be done. That means leaving the camera at home. When it comes time to write a blog post on those days, I’ll just grab some art of the Internet. Usually, there’s plenty floating around.

But there’s a time and a place for shooting trails.

When I ran the Run with the Foxes trail race last month, I decided to carry a camera and stop occasionally for a photo, because I wasn’t running the race competitively. I was treating it as a training run. In this case, getting a good workout was compatible with stopping a handful of times to snap some photos.

At yesterday’s fun run at Town Run Trail Park (see posting below), I took a camera and shot a dozen or so photos. But during today’s long run on the canal (first item, above), I didn’t, and just grabbed some clip art later to dress up my posting.

I read a lot of running blogs. One thing I notice, time after time, is that the bloggers include lots of photos from pre-race and post-race activities. A lot of them look the same: the registration table, the starting line, the finish line. But they rarely include course photos — the most interesting visuals of the day, as far as I’m concerned. Of course, I understand that their first priority is to run a hard, strong race. But when I can, I like to provide a few photos of the real guts and beauty of the day: the hill climbs, the scenic overlooks, the creek crossings, the deep woods.

And when I can’t, I don’t.

Blogging and running are good companions. But I don’t want either one to get out of control.

By the way, I carry a small, pocket camera that is easy to transport and doesn’t get in anyone’s way. Check it out:

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2 Responses to “Grinding it out”

  1. What a very good idea that we carry our own cam when we are running. Of course, bringing a cam definitely is allowable only when we are on our practice run or usual day run. I cant afford to carry a cam when Im on a race. BUt I think it has also something to do with one’s control and way of dealing with new things carry around! ; )

  2. run2boston Says:

    I love the coffee grinder image. Should be on a running t-shirt.

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