Aaron Sumner


How I run

Earlier this month, I wrote about why I picked running back up after a long, long hiatus. I plugged the Galloway method, or Run Walk Run, as my program of choice, particularly over the more widely known Couch-to-5K system.

If you're not familiar with Jeff Galloway's method, it's beautiful and simple at its essence. Take short walk breaks, early and often. You'll have the energy you need to finish a run, and you're less likely to get hurt. There's more to it than that, but that's enough to start.

I started off with Galloway's app, on a treadmill. The app's okay, but quickly showing its age as far as iOS apps go. The treadmill worked out well because (a) starting a running program outdoors in January in Kansas didn't sound fun, and (b) I didn't know any better. I stuck with the app's introductory program, and transitioned to a self-managed, outdoor routine after I'd completed my first 5K (on the treadmill) and the weather finally got nice.

Now, two days a week, I take a two-to-three mile run on the hilly, rough, gravel roads around my house. If you've ever driven to Rim Rock Farm for a cross country meet, you know what these roads are like. They're not pleasant. I have almost been run over by a dump truck. I've had multiple encounters with roadkill, and the scavengers that don't want me anywhere near it. I run past an old milk barn in which a dude wanted for murder recently hid out for a week. The locals colloquially call my route Landfill Road, or even Dump Road, because yeah, there's a landfill at the end of it. I equate this to Rocky Balboa's training in the original Rocky movie, vis-a-vis Apollo Creed's. Apollo's got the fancy gym and trainer; Rocky's running around Philly in cheap sweats and punching sides of beef in a meat locker.

I figure that if I can run Dump Road on a hot August evening, I can run just about anywhere.

On Saturday mornings (usually), I drive into town and hit the Lawrence Levee Trail for a four-to-five mile run. It's flat and pleasant, and instead of angry turkey vultures and impatient dump truck drivers, I encounter friendly people who say good morning! as they go by, and familiar faces of people whose routines overlap mine. It's very nice, and I look forward to it (shock), and even feel weird if I miss it for some reason.

I wear a Fitbit Charge 2 on my runs. I like it because it has an interval timer to let me know when to run and when to walk, and maps my runs via the Fitbit app (though I have to tote my phone with me). I had a Pebble Time long enough to know I don't need a smartwatch, but I am interested in Fitbit's new Ionic for its larger screen, if nothing else. (And Fitbits track sleep, something a certain other wearable maker still hasn't figured out.)

I write down my runs on blank monthly calendar pages that I print out. I like the ceremony of manually recording my progress (or sometimes, lack thereof) as opposed to leaving it to Fitbit. That's the best way to pause and reflect on the activity–what went well, and what sucked.

The weather's getting crummy in northeast Kansas again, but I'm fighting going back to the treadmill as long as possible. I do walk on it two or three times a week, but aim to keep my outdoor running schedule as long as possible–even if it means loading up on goofy-looking ear warmers and dudes' running tights. The things we do.

I'm in sort of a maintenance mode now–I want to increase my mileage, and wouldn't mind shaving a few seconds off my pace, but I think it's most important right now to not let the foul weather knock me out of this habit I created for myself this year. After the new year, though, I plan to join my local running store's Run Walk Run program and shoot for bigger things–maybe a half marathon for 2018? No guarantees yet, but if you'd told me this time last year that I'd run multiple 5Ks in 2017, I wouldn't have believed you.

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