Thursday, October 7, 2010

Running Naked

Since this summer, most of my training has been naked. I run naked and I bike in the garage naked. Swimming isn't quite naked, but I do my best. This naked training is liberating as I just go with what's presented and enjoy the surroundings.

In this case, I'm not equating naked to without clothes. I'm equating it to training without a plan and most importantly, without DATA. I haven't uploaded data to Training Peaks, planned workouts on, or recorded workouts there. For a few years, I recorded nearly every pedal stroke, lap swum and stride strided. Power, cadence, heartrate, pace, speed, intervals- all of it went into the computer. I dissected all of it, analyzed it, compared it to other sessions, and used it to plan future efforts.

Last week I actually ran without any sort of watch on at all (gasp!). I have no idea what my time was. And I loved every minute of it. What I do know is that it was 6.2 miles, and was the same route I had so much trouble with back in June that I had to walk three times. Two days later I was in the ER.

The epitome of naked running is trail running. On trails, there are so many ups and downs, twists and turns, rocks, trees and puddles that the data would be meaningless anyway. Last week I took Bob T out to Bradbury. We simply headed out into the woods without any idea of where we were going. After 45 minutes, we miraculously found ourselves back at the start, so we crossed the road and ran around and up the "mountain." The total run was 1:15, and a great workout. At one point, I asked Bob how fast he thought we were running. His response, based on effort, was "about 7:30." My Garmin, which I was wearing just in case we got really lost, told me we were closer to 10:00. It's just completely different. I am hooked. It's an incredible feeling to run in the woods as opposed to pounding the pavement on the same roads I've done hundreds of times.

Most importantly, I'm finding this naked training is introducing FUN into the equation. Previously, my satisfaction came from the results, rather than the workout itself. I enjoyed pushing lots of watts up a hill and turning in good intervals on the track or road. But my focus on data gave me tunnel vision. It put me in a frame of mind where, even when I wasn't in the middle of a workout, I was (too) focused on it.

I believe a shift to include more fun can help me to be a more complete athlete. Will it help me go faster? I don't know. That will be discussed another day. But with running, I think it's very possible. Trail running is easier on the body due to the lack of pounding, and strengthens the legs and body due to the "3D" aspect compared to "2D" road running. Constant hills will also make me stronger. As for technique, I find it's better than ever when I do a bit of road running after a long run on the trails.

On Saturdays at 8AM, I've been running with the Trailmonsters, a great group of folks. So far, it's been either Bradbury or Pineland. There are a couple of different paces and distances. The first day I joined them, it was hot and humid, and I struggled to make 6 miles. Most recently, we went about 10 miles in 1:35. The website says where the next run is.

Come join us. And yes, come fully clothed.