Adding on the Miles

by Shamala Kandiah Thompson

For a few years now, although I was running regularly, my idea of a long run was 6-7 miles. A month ago my running buddy Kelly, began upping her mileage on our weekly runs in Rockefeller Preserve and I decided to go along for the ride. Last weekend we did a 11 mile run. It was the first time in seven years that I’d done a post-10 mile run and it felt surprisingly good. And now I understand why Paul has been able to run from Stone Barns to Rockwood when he does his ‘easy recovery’ 12 mile run in Rockefeller Preserve on Sundays! You need to cover a lot more ground to get those miles in.

Swan Lake in Rockefeller Preserve

For me going beyond beyond the 10 mile mark was a major accomplishment. For years I’d run out of energy half way through a run. Hills meant a lot of huffing and puffing and a heart rate that was often above 180. None of which was ideal for running long.

I have had many moments of wondering if I should just give up running for a less exhausting sport. Being able to keep going for longer periods of time without feeling totally drained at the end has given me a renewed sense of joy in running.

Enjoying going downhill on a recent long run.

It’s hard to tell what has made the difference. Recently I began taking a multivitamin to deal with a vitamin D deficiency. Some studies indicate a correlation between low vitamin D and poor performance in athletes. Although there may be other reasons why I’m feeling better I think I’ll keep taking that multivitamin.

The other thing I’ve discovered is Gu, a fast acting energy gel. What a revelation. It should have been obvious that since running out of energy was one of my main problems, I needed to take in some quick acting calories. But in all my years of running (including a marathon when I was a sprightly 23 year old) I have never considered ingesting anything on a run. And what a difference it has made. Those miles right after a Gu blast just fly by!

The eye candy at this time of year may have helped keep me going.

In spite of having done some tests a few years ago I don’t know why I run at such a high heart-rate. The conclusion was that I might just be one of those people for whom running at 180 is normal but I know it limits my ability to run faster. I’m exploring the reasons with a doctor again and have to admit that I’m not sure what sort of answer I want to hear.  A problem  could mean less or no running. No problem means I have to accept the limitations of running with a high heart rate. But at least for now it’s not stopped me from increasing my mileage.

There’s a side effect to me running more miles which has made Paul happy. Now on Saturday afternoon I no longer  suggest activities like a hike in Bear Mountain! I’m now almost as tired as he is after his 22-mile runs.

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