The Forever Mile

The toes of my shoes dragged hard against the gravel pavement as it streaked under me. I held my body stiff. My legs stretched out slightly behind me, my arms stretched tightly to the motorcycle’s license plate frame in front of me. The rear tire, sprocket, and chain spun dangerously below my chest.

We were traveling at about 30 miles per hour when I bounced off the back seat. The rider noticed that I had fallen and smashed the brakes bringing us to a screeching stop. By then, I had been dragged about 50 feet.

I was a pre-teen riding on the back of an older friends motorcycle. I jogged the 50 or so feet to my house. My Mom pulled off my destroyed sneakers and washed the wounds on the balls of my feet.

That’s why I became a runner more than 30 years later.

I’m an interval runner. I do short alternating periods of running and walking. I started later in life, at 40 years old, and I’m overweight and out of shape. When I started running I hadn’t run a full mile since high school. At first, it was hard, then it got a little easier. It’s easier but it’s still hard. After three years, I’m still slow, I run a mile in 14.5 minutes. But I run, and I have more energy.

The Forever Mile is an interval pace that I can run “forever”. In reality, it depends on the day. I use it nearly every time I run. Over time, I’ve figured out that I need to run about 9 minutes, of each mile, in order to finish in under 15 minutes.

So, I use the Forever Mile to keep pace. It looks like this.

  • Run for 1 minute
  • Walk for 45 seconds
  • Repeat 9 times

Over time I make adjustments to these numbers. When I started I could only run 15 to 30 seconds at a time. As my body got used to running the times increased. But I plateaued at around 2 minutes of running. I can push the numbers up so that I’m running 2 minutes and walking 30 seconds, but I can’t keep that pace in longer runs and losing pace gets me down.

One option I’m considering right now is to have a little longer cool down period between miles.

  • Cool down for 1:30

I use the Android app Hybrid Interval Trainer (Workout Timer) by Javier Salmona. It works really well for keeping pace. I wear headphones and it makes announcements when I need to run and walk. It’s simple and it’s configurable.

You might be wondering why a motorcycle accident, when I was young, caused me to start running when I was 40.

In October of 2016, I had surgery on my foot to correct a hammertoe caused by that accident years before. I was in a stiff boot for about three months. There’s nothing like being unable to use your feet and legs to push you to appreciate them. For me, that meant committing to run and trying to be a little more healthy.

In 2017 I ran 12.5 miles in a relay race called the Ragnar Wasatch Back.

In 2018 I backed out of the same race due to a knee injury that was getting progressively worse during training. After a few months off I ran 6.4 miles in an experimental Ragnar race called The Sunset Experiment. This one was a trail race and it was a very difficult one for me.

In 2019 I plan to run the Wasatch Back again. Maybe you’ll try interval training and I’ll see you out there.