Friday, February 11, 2011

Season II -- Barefoot Mile Number 3 -- Calculations!

Got the e-mail from my barefoot buddy today,

"Barefoot Running at the Indoor Track:  Tonight or Tomorrow"

It was written to three of us and said she might be there tonight.

I showed up, but there was no one there.  Kiddies were having their free karate class in the gym below, just like last week.

On the walk over, it didn't feel so bad out.  I thought, why am I going to this indoor track?  I should just run outside. Then I remembered I was going because my friend might be there. And besides, it was dark.

So, I started round the track.  It was fun, I'll admit, but I was going to run further tonight so I wasn't sure how many times around the track would be about a mile.

I tried to eyeball the track and figure out how far around it was.  Was it half the size of a regular track?  I'm not very good at eyeballing, but I thought it looked half the size of a regular track.  (You will find out later that I was very very wrong about this estimation.)

I decided to run around in sets of 10x around.  I ran round and round.  It was really hot.  There were these old radiators in there and wow could they make it hot.  Plus I was in the upper part of the room above the gym so the hot air had risen.  But they had the windows open on the wall by the radiators so there was a cold breeze when I ran by the hot radiators.  That was a weird sensation.

I started to get bored going round and round without my friend to talk to.  This is not much better than a treadmill, I thought.  Although it is slightly better because I don't have to change my form to pawback or anything.  And I can count the laps.  Only I kept losing track of how many, so I think I "cheated" myself by counting some of them twice.

I also started feeling a little tilted from running round the edges in the same direction.  After 10 laps, I switched direction.

I had thought that 10 laps might be about a mile, but after 10 laps it definitely had not felt like a mile.  Maybe 20 laps is a mile, I thought.  I decided to do 40 laps (remember: I'm still getting back into it after a month off, plus I have Kung Fu tomorrow).

I decided to concentrate on breathing quietly and running softly and quietly without losing my composure.  That was interesting enough to get me around all the laps.

After finishing the 40 laps -- uggh! -- I tried to figure out how far around this track was.  I walked with baby steps around the track.  It was about 140 baby steps.  My baby steps might be a foot long and they might not.

When I got downstairs, I asked one of the kids taking the karate class if they knew how many times around the track was a mile.   "24, I think."

Wow, I sure did not eyeball that track well if I thought it might be half the size of a regular track!

So, I got home and tried to do some math.  First, I tried to see how many inches my "baby step" was.

I guessed it was about 20 inches.

I multiplied 20 inches by 140 steps around the track: 2800 inches.

Then divided by 12 to get feet:  233 feet around.

Then I divided the feet in a mile (5280) by 233 which came to roughly between 22 and 23 times around the track for a mile.

Considering how inexactly I had taken the baby steps and how inexactly I had measured my step when I got home, and also considering how I felt after running 20 times around the track, I guess the kid is probably right that 24 times round that track is probably a mile.

Now, why did I bother to try to roughly calculate that?  Why do I need to know how far I went?  Why do I need a measurement?

While I was going around it was really bothering me that I didn't know how far I was going or how long I was running.  So, I had this thought that maybe I could just listen to my body.  Maybe I could just run until it seemed like fatigue would no longer let me keep my form well.  I thought of non-dieting approaches to manage food that recommend paying close attention to body signals: eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full.  Maybe the same approach is good for running too. Let the body's wisdom determine the distance and speed.

But it was hard to listen to the body's wisdom.  I needed to have an idea when it was time to stop.  I needed some predetermined amount to run.  I decided on 40 times around the track ahead of time.

I mean, what would happen if I listened to my body?  What if it never wanted to stop and I was stuck there running round that track forever?  Or, what if it told me to stop before I had run enough to benefit me? (Whatever that amount is?)  What if endorphins kick in and I don't notice I'm overdoing it and end up with a repetitive stress injury?  What if I give up and don't push myself beyond?  (Beyond what?) What if there was no such thing as training for a race?  A tempo run?  A long run?  What if I just ran for fun and did what felt good and exhilarating?

No, I have to go around 40 times.  I'm sure at least 40 times ought to be enough.  (Enough for what?)

And counting the times around will give me something to do.


Staci said...

Such an interesting question is "What If?". We were talking about something similar this morning - we always seem to be training for a race and are always doing distance, speed or tempo and do we really enjoy running for the experience.

Anonymous said...

What if is a big question.. just do it! :)