Sunday, August 18, 2013

Comfortable Miles

This morning I slept "in" (not getting up till 5:30) and then got out to run just before 6 AM for what turned out to be just four comfortable miles.  The paces were 8:46, 8:24, 8:18, 7:55.  Those are much slower than the first four miles I ran yesterday (7:22, 7:19, 6:56, 7:06) on my way to a 7:07 pace (a correction from what I thought was 7:03 yesterday).  But that is okay, today was a "recovery" run and yesterday turned out to be more of a tempo run than a long slow run anyway.

While I commented in yesterday's entry that I was working hard enough not to be thinking very hard about anything other than "keep going at this pace," I would still call the pace "comfortably hard".  That is a term that I borrow from one of the Charm City Run coaches.  When I crossed paths with the training group yesterday, I believe that the coach for this season is Marie but another long-time participant and coach (John) was leading the run yesterday.  He told everyone to just take it easy yesterday (I did my run beforehand and had already completely ignored the advice).  But John is the coach who used to suggest that we seek a pace that was "comfortably hard" for our tempo runs.

Today was just comfortable--rather than comfortably hard.  After the fast/easy/medium paces I ran yesterday, my legs were tight and then slowly came to life as I continued to run.  Each of the four miles this morning was comfortable as I went from my neighborhood around the Cedarcroft and then back around my own neighborhood again.

The key lesson for today is there is a lot to say about using comfortable pace as a guide.  It is a guide to running.  If I am running at a pace that is comfortable I don't tend to get injured.  Injuries happen when I push too hard.  And comfortable can range from comfortably hard to just plain comfortable for me to comfortable for someone with whom I am pacing.  Each has its role.

But the idea of a comfortable pace applies to other things in life as well.  Am I working at a comfortable pace at work?  I'd say it is usually comfortably hard rather than just comfortable.  When I push too hard I do not get "injured" but I am much more likely to make errors in judgment.

The development of interpersonal relationships is another great example of something for which comfortable pace can be important.  Even in friendship there is a pace at which sharing develops and with which individuals can be comfortable.  Sometimes too much information too quickly can make the pace uncomfortable.  Then there can be misinterpretation.

Learning a musical instrument (like my approach to bass as an adult) is another thing where comfortable pace can be important.  Too fast can lead to frustration.

For each of these the definition of what is "comfortable" and how "pace" is measured is different.  But each part of my life can be guided by trying to figure out how to proceed with confidence and in a way that promotes ideal progression without missteps that can lead to injury, errors in judgment, misinterpretation, or frustration.  All of which lead to poor outcomes.  None of which are ideal.  

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