Just over a week ago, I ran a race! I used to run a lot. I’ve run a few half marathons and even a full marathon in Disney World back in 2012. Whoa! Even thinking about running that far now hurts my legs. I’ve been keeping to shorter distances lately; 2-3 mile jogs just to be outside and stay in shape. But for some reason, this summer, I started wanting to run longer distances again. It might be the atmosphere of LBI. People are outside at all hours of the day walking, running, and biking. The island is completely flat, and it makes you feel like you might enjoy exercising, too! I thought about doing the full 18-mile race that runs the whole span of Long Beach Island, but unfortunately it takes place right after I leave for Australia. Instead, I saw posters for the Dog Day Race, a much gentler 5-mile fun run that happens in the dead center of the steamy month of August.
I guess most people probably don’t need to train all that much to run five miles, but I felt like I did. And while I was looking for a manageable training schedule, I came across a plan for training called the Galloway Method. I really loved long distance running, because of what it does for my mental state and because it’s my favorite way to see a city, but somewhere around the 10-12 mile training run, I would always get hurt. When race day finally arrive, my knee or hip would be struggling, and I never fully felt my best.
For the Dog Day run, I decided to try out Jeff Galloway’s run-walk method. Since I run about 9 minute miles in short distances, the method suggests that I run for four minutes and then walk for one minute—the amount you run in between depends on your mile time. I was hesitant to try it. I always beat myself up if I have to stop and walk, or I feel like I can’t count it as a full run. Jeff disagrees. He says that walking for a minute won’t set your time back much at all; in fact, most people are able to improve their times using a run-walk approach. The method also claims to prevent injuries. That was what convinced me to try it. I have to be on my feet a lot for my jobs down here, and I want to keep running, so I didn’t want to get hurt.
The day of the race was insanely hot! I wondered why they decided to start at 9:30am instead of earlier. I wondered why there weren’t more people passing out from heat exhaustion around me. I set up my new Bluetooth headphones that my friend gifted to me and set off on my run-walk. I was feeling pretty good considering the heat. I felt kind of silly stopping after four minutes for my first walk break, but the recipe says to start it from the very beginning, before you get tired. I could tell it was working. While I was walking, other runners would pass me, and then I would catch up to them or pass them on the next time segment. Of course, I’m never expecting to win any races, but I’m still competitive and like to do well compared to my past times.
When we came to the final mile, I was exhausted and happy to have friendly neighbors who set up sprinklers and hoses in their yards to cool us down. [Note to self to serve as a race volunteer someday!] I think if I hadn’t been doing a run-walk method, I would’ve ran over ten minute miles or decided to stop and walk altogether. I was hotter than ever, but I saw the lights from the firehouse finish line and gave it the final push. I was stoked to see that the timer was under 50 minutes.
I declined any of the post-race hot dogs, but treated myself to some watermelon and loads of H2O. As I walked back to my bike to ride home, I was reminded of one of my favorite Tim Ferriss Show podcast episodes when Derek Sivers talks about how he would always take the same bike ride to work every day and would really push himself, ignore his surroundings, and gas it as fast as possible. Then one day, he decides to slow down, take in the scenery, and enjoy the ride. He winds up making it to work in the exact same amount of time, with a much more leisurely spirit.
I’ll be thinking about that on my future runs and whenever I try to rush from one point in life to the next. Wishing you the most enjoyment in your journey, too.