When I was in boot camp, the drill instructors would sing songs they called “Jodies,” and I remember one of the verses went like this:
Up in the morning with the rising sun,
We’re gonna run all day ’til the running’s done.
Mile one; just for fun
Mile two; just for you
Mile three; a PFT
Good for you; not for me
Mile four; want some more
Mile five; I feel alive
Mile six; just for kicks
Mile seven; I’m in heaven
Mile eight; feels great
Mile nine; doin’ fine
Mile ten; let’s do it again
Ooh-rah; feels good; oh yeah!
So, I never get past the “…a PFT,” on my runs, but it’s good enough. Many times when I’m running, even if I’m listening to music, my mind will wander, and I will hear these Jodies as sung by my drill instructors going on in my head. I hear their voices, their motivation, their yelling at us to keep up the pace. 32 years later, I find myself bringing up the pace to not let them down.
I ran hard yesterday. Probably the biggest effort I’ve put into a run in about a year, and I surprised myself. I also tried a new breathing technique that didn’t tie itself to my steps. Usually, since running in the military forces you to have to time your breathing so you can sing on cue, you get used to running with a pattern of breathing. This is good, because it helps build stamina. But for speed running, it’s not quite so good. Yesterday, I let myself breathe as I needed while running as hard and as fast as I could. The result was the fastest two miles I’ve run in nearly a year, and a great 3 mile time.
I felt good afterward, and as I did my nearly mile-long cool-down walk with the dog (who always enjoys my post-run walks), I looked at my run data on Strava and found that my heart rate stayed about 20 BPM lower than slower runs where I tied my breathing to my steps. It seems that the key to running faster for me is to breathe independent of my steps and more in line with the effort I’m pushing with.
This is earth-shattering.
I have, as I have mentioned yesterday, an APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) coming up in a month, and while I could pass it well today, I want to do my very best on it. I will continue to work hard, and I will crush that APFT. I don’t know if I can beat my last APFT run time, but I’m hoping for it. With a little luck and a lot of sweat, I’ll get there.
As for my weight, I was back down near my lowest this month even after a weekend of food and alcohol. The body is resilient, and if you treat it right, it will reward you. I also feel like a pair of trousers I wore in Ireland and Scotland were much looser today off the hangar than they were when I was there on vacation. So, even if the weight isn’t coming off right now, my size is decreasing (which is good).
Stick with it, keep your eye on your goal, and never waver.