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The Four Mile Warm-up

15 Feb 16
Heidi Kumm
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8 comments

I’ve spent the last few weeks in a mental rut of sorts, but I’m not about to start complaining about that. Instead, let’s ponder the cause/solution for my rut. Since I started training for the Pittsburgh Marathon I had not made it past 7 miles in a continuous run. Heck, that one 7 miler I did get in was the longest 100% run/no hiking distance I’ve gone in…months? Considering a marathon is nearly 20 miles further than my current “longest run” I needed to get my act together! I needed to run…longer.

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…the world I discover when I get distracted on the trails…

Now, don’t assume I haven’t attempted longer runs or left the house with the best of intentions…they just haven’t been happening. Sometimes I get distracted on the trails and choose to spend my time running three miles up snow-packed trails rather than continue to the river path for faster miles. Sometimes I get sucked into work and the two hour window I wanted to spend running became a 45 minute window, if I skipped a shower before my next job. Sometimes I used the weather as an excuse to cut my runs short [45 degrees temperatures in the mountains = literal sheets of ice on the trails = near death slips = nope]. All the times my longer runs just don’t happen.

Until today.

And today only really worked for one reason…the epiphany I had on Saturday.

Saturday is a prime example of work encroaching on my running time. I had settled into a coffee shop at 8am for a few hours of remote working. My game plan involved escaping into the unreasonable warm temperatures for 10ish miles around noon then heading into my hotel job for a 3p-11p shift. I headed out onto the trails at about 1:15 [yup, work’s fault] and did what I could to make the most of the time I had.

That run kind of sucked.

Honestly.

The weather was great; sunny + just over 50 degrees at almost 10,000 feet. The paved paths were inviting; either bone dry or perfectly puddled. But…I was fighting my body to keep going. My pace was slow, my legs felt heavy, my mojo was slomo. Until about mile 3.98, then it all changed. My pace dropped a whole minute without any added effort by me. I was smirking at the puddles and scaring the fly fisherman with excited hellos.

Uh, what the heck happened?

I hit four miles. And I’m pretty sure my body has a four mile warm-up threshold. Of course, by now I had run out of time to take advantage of this run-foria that showed up…off to work I went.

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…I think they got lost? Makes me feel a bit better about ending up on the wrong end of town today! #couldbeworse

But it got me thinking. Maybe I’ve been sabotaging myself over the past few weeks. Most of my recent runs have been out/backs, meaning I’ll get about 2 or 3 miles away from home then turn myself around to finish my run with a pocket full of smiles but never more than 7 miles. I don’t recall all of my runs having “ugh” miles in the beginning but I do believe in the passive aggressive powers of a subconscious so…maybe my body really wants to wait four miles before it gets in the game?

On a mission to hit 10-12 miles I headed out onto the pavement this morning. Work has me in Boulder right now and I know absolutely nothing about the Boulder bike paths so I left the house with plans to…run. That’s it.

The first few miles were janky. Nothing was wrong but nothing was really that right either. My pace was slow [although I was ignoring it for the most part — I needed miles, not minutes] and my legs just weren’t functioning the way I knew they could. When I realized I had gone the wrong direction on some random trail it was so hard not to just go home and call it…at what would have been 5 miles by the time I doubled back.

Nope.

Turning around was not an option. Yet.

I needed to see what happened when I hit this arbitrary four mile warm-up. Maybe I was full of it and my entire run would suck…but even if that was the case I desperately *needed* to cover the distance. This is what was happening in my brain, enjoy!

Mile 2.43: Oh, 10 more miles, that’s totally doable…NOT. What are you doing, you crazy moron! I wonder how much I have to pay someone to run a marathon for me?

Mile 3.14: Efffffff. This downhill is SO hard. Why am I even running. This is stupid.

Mile 3.83: Sweet baby squirrels, can I just turn around? That’d be 8 miles…8 is almost 12…

Mile 4.12: Oh, look, a hill! Let’s run an out/back on it just for funsies.

Mile 7.34: Only 5 more miles?! Where’d the time go? Also, where the hell am I?! Oh well…I’ll just keep running, it’s so nice out. Running is fun!

I kid you not, there was a complete 180 in my attitude + running ability around 4 miles in. In reality, I wasn’t tracking my run down to the 0.01 miles but somewhere in those miles that went down in the 30-45 minutes after I started running kicked my body into actual runner mode.

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Robb + Max + the new GlowStreak LED ball from NiteIze…my latest excuse to get distracted on the trails!

And even after that turn around about four miles into my run I wasn’t seeing paces that I didn’t feel compelled to attach excuses to until mile 7. What?! Who has their best miles as they head into the end of their long runs? Maybe if I can keep my head on straight in the adrenaline of the first few miles of the Pittsburgh Marathon I’ll pull off a solid race with negative splits? Maybe? Yup, I’m must going to cling to that silver lining my like my legs depend on it.

I guess I finally understand why people really put time + effort into warming up before races…luckily with ultras you’re running 50+ miles and I have absolutely no guilt sacrificing the first four miles!

And yea, none of the photos scattered above are from today’s 50+ degree run in snow-less Boulder, they’re from random runs around Summit County last week. If you want to see more of brown Boulder check out my Snapchat: heidikumm. I don’t even talk that much…this time…

8 Comments

  1. tlsylvan February 15, 2016 at 2:52 pm Reply

    You hit the nail on the head! I was just describing to someone yesterday during my 30-mile marathon that ultra running has absolutely ruined short distances for me! It takes me at least 10 miles (22 yesterday) to start to feel good on a run. I hate life and running when I’m on shorter training runs and can barely get my legs to move. But I had my fastest paces 23 miles into my run yesterday. It was wild.

    • Heidi Kumm February 15, 2016 at 3:14 pm Reply

      Right?! It’s a thing!

      And, at the risk of sounding pretentious, I had the guts to imply that a road marathon is the ultra runner’s version of a marathoner’s 5K…a special kind of hell where a goal pace takes way more effort than it should because there just isn’t enough time to get your shit together!

  2. Run Away With Me February 15, 2016 at 10:24 pm Reply

    I have this same problem when I’m training for half marathons! It’s like my body hates me until we’re 45 minutes into the run and then it’s like “Oh fine, I guess we can run and have fun”. So silly! I’m glad you’ve been able to push past it and get to the point of being happy on the run!

    • Heidi Kumm February 17, 2016 at 9:22 am Reply

      Oh, thank goodness it’s not just me! I used to think I just needed a mile to get my head/body in the game but apparently that’s not true!

  3. Katie @ Run Now, Wine Later February 16, 2016 at 10:45 am Reply

    So true…I found myself reading this and nodding at so much of what you said! From procrastinating starting your runs to the 4 mile “warm up” 🙂 I feel like my “warm up” distance is around 3-4 miles, after which I basically feel like I can rule the world! It makes my 3-4 mile weekday runs pretty difficult though 😉

    • Heidi Kumm February 17, 2016 at 9:23 am Reply

      What’s so magical about four miles? It seems like such an arbitrary number but it’s kind of a magic number for a lot of people! On the plus side, marathon training has me up to 5-6 mile midweek runs now so I’m at least going to finish my run with a smile. Hopefully! 😉

  4. #GameOnPGH: Running…Uphill. February 19, 2016 at 6:35 am Reply

    […] I’m comfortable with and confident in. And, now that I’ve come to terms with this “four mile warm-up” mumbo jumbo I know how to get past that 5-7 mile rut I dug myself into over the last few […]

  5. #GameOnPGH: The Recap – Heidi Kumm // Oversharing Life May 5, 2016 at 10:40 am Reply

    […] between mile 3-4 my legs got lazy. They seemed to be struggling to get over that “4 mile warm-up” phenomenon I swear exists. Of course, I had seriously dropped the ball in the fuel department […]

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