Walking is not running. Bicycling is not running. Basketball is not running. High-intensity strength training is not running.
Jogging, on the other hand . . .
This was my lesson learned Wednesday, when my son, Mr. Parkour, and I tackled the Commitment Day 5K in downtown Minneapolis. The air temperature that morning was 6 below zero with a wind chill variously described as minus-16 to minus-25. But the weather was not the problem. Like last year’s “fun” run, once you get going, all those layers of clothing became unnecessary. The real problem this year was that I forgot how to jog.
Mr. Parkour, as you may recollect, is 23 years old, weighs maybe 120 pounds, and can run all day (even though he admits that he seldom runs). So, when we hit the starting line on Wednesday, we both began loping along, striding confidently up the hill, the icy Mississippi to our right . . . for about two-tenths of a mile. I was completely winded and slowed to a walk, trying to catch my breath. MP, jogged backwards, in a way that did not invite sympathy.
“You know, I’m year older than the last time we did this,” I whined.
“So am I,” MP noted.
“Yeah, but I’m 62 and you’re 23.”
He just shrugged, bouncing happily on the ice-coated asphalt. I leaned into the task and resumed my former pace, wondering why this was so difficult. Two or three minutes later, I once again slowed to a walk, completely winded. MP continued bouncing in place. We hadn’t yet hit the 1-mile marker, and I was already lamenting my unwillingness to train for this thing. Clearly, my daily walks, my kettlebell sessions, and even my basketball games had not adequately prepared me for this thing.
Then it occurred to me: I was running — long strides propelling me across the tundra at maybe 8 MPH — rather than jogging, as I had done last year. These are two very distinct movements. Running requires that you exert significant effort. Jogging can be done while drinking a beer and arguing politics. It ought to be called “non-running.”
As I later learned in this blog post, running at a pace faster than 6 MPH works your muscles (and, I suspect, your lungs) in a totally different way than jogging does.
I shortened my strides, slowed my pace, and quickly noticed that my lungs were happier and I could sustain an easy rhythm with very little effort. My calves were so happy about this turn of events that they voted unanimously not to cramp up, as they’ve been known to do during sessions on the dreadmill.
We glided by the Mile 1 marker, planted on the Plymouth Avenue bridge, descended onto the trail that led us across Boom Island and over a downstream bridge to Nicollet Island, past the Mile 2 marker on Main Street, and finally across the venerable Stone Arch Bridge to the finish line. Jogging all the way, we finished the circuit in about 38 minutes. I’m going to call it a personal best.
Even better, though, is understanding the difference between a run and a jog. And knowing that I can jog a 5K anytime without stressing over the preparation. Running a 5K? Not so much.