I've decided that I'm going to become a sprinter. A fast sprinter. Optimizing for being speedy and ergonomic (non-knee-jarring) while carrying a small, light load.
Couple reasons for this. First, aerobic endurance is boring. Seriously. One of the reasons why I never made it under an 8 minute mile is because I can't run that long without getting distracted. I can't see something a mile away. I see something shinier nearby and I want to sprint there! and then I see something else that's shiny and I want to sprint there! and so on. Add enough shiny thing! sprints and you get a reasonably decent run.
Second, when you're running for something time-sensitive, you usually have something with you. At least I do. A laptop, a book, a backpack, a small child who really needs to go to the bathroom. I need to be able to run under those conditions, because face it; I'm not waking up early to put on special running clothes, expensive shoes, and a pedometer. I want to just go about my life, but need to spurt out huge amounts of energy while doing so. If I can only sprint empty-handed with special equipment, I'll never sprint in practice; if I can sprint in everyday clothes and shoes while balancing a stack of electronics and hurtling towards the bus, I'm going to use this skill all the time.
Third, I like my knees and ankles. I'd like to keep them. Therefore, it behooves me to learn how to stand and walk and run properly - with proper everyday footwear, if so needed - in a way that will allow me to use them for the rest of my life. Esther and her book are very good at this; I've also heard good things about ChiRunning. This is going to require me to relearn a lot of basic body mechanics, and I'm starting to find certain muscles in my legs and hips that don't seem to work properly because they feel knotted up in the same sort of way my shoulders do. So this will also have the side benefit of forcing me to get and keep my musculoskeletal system in order and use it properly.
What does this mean in terms of stuff I've got to do?
- Sprint everywhere. This is the biggest one; I've just got to do it. I do this anyway, most of the time; one friend in college remarked that she had never seen me walk anywhere when I had a choice. But now I'm going to do it consciously.
- Watch my footwear. I need to pay attention to my ergonomics, and get new shoes if needed. I need new shoes anyway; my sandals from university have soles that have been worn smooth, ripped velcro, and generally look like used dog chew toys. My non-sandal shoes are supposedly closed-toe, but have holes that make this actually not the case. I wear my shoes rough and I wear them until they fall apart.
- Improve upper body strength so I have better options for hoisting light loads. I'm going to define "light" as "less than 15 pounds" right now, since that seems like a good arbitrary number; I may revise this later. Basically, this is running with a bowling ball. I'll do this by running with lighter loads but with proper ergonomics until I can handle heavier ones. Perhaps I'll even do a couple reps of lifting said loads up and down (like a weight) if I remember when I finish sprints or pause in the middle of them.
- Find a Rolfer and get my body back in tune. I feel like I'm just barely in remission from RSI, and I haven't addressed much beyond the bare bones of "let me go back to my insane work hours" yet, but that experience was eye-opening enough that now I want to go back for a more systematic all-over overhaul. Yeah, it's expensive. And it's going to be very, very painful physically. It's an investment; I never want to be waylaid by RSI again. I think I'm going to wait until I go back to Boston in December to start, and begin doing my stretching, etc. this fall with that in mind.
- Consider going out for a sport in the spring/summer that sprinting is useful for. I've never really done the "team sports" thing, but ultimate or soccer or football or rugby or parkour... (okay, parkour isn't a team sport, but it would sure be fun).