How to Run 13.1: Don't Stop

Our blogger learns that stamina comes from the heart—not just the lungs

by Jennifer Braunschweiger • Deputy Editor
Hey, rabbit. Better watch that fuzzy backside.
Photograph: iStock

I assume most regular runners have their favorite paths.

I’m no exception.

There’s my three-mile run along the waterfront, up the hill to the Brooklyn Promenade, through Brooklyn Heights and back. And my five miler: over the Brooklyn Bridge, around New York's City Hall and back over the bridge.

And lately, there's the run I’ve been doing at least once a week and sometimes more: up to Park Slope, around Prospect Park and home. At 6.5 miles, it’s a run I do mostly when I’m training. I have to be in good shape to do it, but man, I love that run.

You can’t believe how many different things there are to see. I cross the Gowanus Canal, recently certified as a Superfund site; on a really gross day, the gunk on the water shimmers and bubbles. There’s a sliver of industrial neighborhood, now filled with old warehouses-turned-artist collectives. On the sidewalk, someone installed blue and yellow Mexican tile and lovely sunflowers grow in the summer. There are shops and organic grocery stores, restaurants and laundromats.

There’s a long, slow hill through brownstone Brooklyn, the century-old houses growing grander and more expensive the higher you go. Then the park itself, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead in the late 1860s, a 3.3 mile loop that crams a slice of the country into the middle of the city: a duck pond, a horse trail (on Sunday morning, I saw a little girl on a tiny pony), baseball fields, a drum circle, soccer players and, right at the end, a steep hill that means I'm almost through.

This weekend, I did the park loop twice. Saturday, on the way up to the park, I was running on the other side of the street from a woman with a bouncing blond ponytail and fluorescent orange shoes. We fell into a pattern. She would jackrabbit in front of me. And then I would pass her. She got held up at the traffic lights, she stopped to fix her water belt, she fussed with her watch. I lost track of her for half an hour, then was surprised when, once again, she came up behind me. Despite her faster pace, four and half miles into the run, we were still neck and neck.

Sunday, the same thing happened. This time, it was a super fit-looking, young guy running well in front of me on the street leading to the park. I didn’t even try to keep up. But then I passed him: He’d slowed to a walk. He started running again and was soon far ahead. Until I passed him again. Finally, the third time I ran by, he had turned around and was trudging slowly out of the park without completing the loop.

Maybe he had a hangover.

Maybe he’d just run 15 miles. I don’t know. But it doesn’t matter—I still got a huge confidence boost. My takeaway? You don’t always have to be the fastest. Sometimes, by not quitting—by simply refusing to stop—you finish first.
 

Read Jennifer's Training Week 1: Handling a Setback

Read Jennifer's Training Week 2: The Pros & Cons of a GPS Watch

Read Jennifer's Training Week 3: Finding Time to Train

Read Jennifer's Training Week 4: Strengthen Your Weak Parts

Read Jennifer's Training Week 5: Stay Motivated

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First Published March 21, 2012

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