Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Learning Patience in Running and Home Brewing

I'm not a patient man.

This has unfortunately worked to my disadvantage in races, where patience is pretty important. Everyone knows it's important to pace themselves, to not go out too fast. And of course, once the gun goes off, there's all the usual chaos at the start, then the adrenaline starts flowing, patience goes out the window, and before you know it, you're at the first mile 20 seconds sooner than you wanted to be, and in big trouble. At least that's the way a lot of my races started out.

One of the ways I learned to developed a better sense of running patience was through tempo runs. These are workouts of about 20 minutes duration, typically run at a "comfortably hard" pace. A simple rule of thumb is to simply add about 15 seconds to your 10 k race pace. This is around the lactic acid threshold, where lactic acid starts accumulating in the muscles because of chemical reactions required to generate enough energy to maintain this comfortably hard pace. Too much lactic acid in the legs makes them feel rubbery, makes harder to keep up the pace, and is often what forces you to slow down if you've gone out too fast.

A track is a good place for a tempo run, because you want to concentrate knocking out the same pace over that 20 minutes. Of course, you could go faster, but a goal of a tempo run is to training the mind to learn pace sense and develop a certain patience to keep knocking out the same time, lap after lap around the track. (If you can't find a track, a reasonably flat running trail with few variations or interruptions due to traffic works pretty well.) Since lactic acid is accumulating in your legs, the body learns to buffer this acid, and so over time, you can run faster without producing as much lactic acid in the legs.

Learning to be more patient in home brewing? Home brewing workouts seem to be an oxymoron. Instead, patience in home brewing seems to simply come from experience. I'm finding I'm way to eager to bottle and drink my finished brews, where an extra week or two in the carboy or bottle conditioning would give it that extra edge. I recently brewed a coffee porter, and while I originally wrote in my blog post that it was flat, found giving it another week in the bottle allowed the carbonation to fully develop. Probably another week of secondary fermentation would give the yeast a little more time to do their thing and give the flavor a little something extra, but I still think it turned out to be a pretty good brew once I gave it time. I suppose the more I brew, the necessary patience will start to develop.

I need to be a more patient man.

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