Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Love Hate Relationship With Speed

I love to run fast. I love that effortless feeling of flying at the beginning of a long race. I love to turn on the afterburners and kick it in at the finish. I love the feeling of accomplishing what I set out to do.

Unfortunately, I was not born fast. I don't look like a runner. I have short stubby legs and a not-so-thin body. In fact, one of the biggest off-hand compliments I got in high school was when one of my younger brother's friends told him, "Your sister is a lot faster than she looks" - after I smoked her in the 800. I've had to work tooth and nail for every bit of speed I've built up over the years.

me on the far right...
...unlike my long legged daughter on the left

Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, I was born competitive. I like to win. Sometimes it makes me crazy... and so I've developed this long term love hate relationship with speed.

I love to run. Just run. At a comfortable pace, I feel like I can just go on forever. I think though that that "comfortable pace" for me is about 10:30 - 11:00 minute miles. Not all that fast if you want to be competitive. There are days I really wish I could be happy just running a couple miles at my comfortable pace a couple times a week and be good with that. Unfortunately, the competitor in me is not happy with that!

To get faster, you have to practice fast stuff - like intervals and tempo/pace runs. Stuff that makes you hurt. Pain is OK for awhile but if you get your butt kicked time and time again, it's not so fun anymore. The purpose behind speedwork is to prepare your body to race fast - to increase your VO2 max and lactate threshold. But it's hard... and it's suppose to be that way to push your limits.

So, lately, I have come to dread my pace workouts. It's like a weekly test. Have I put in my mileage, eaten right, and gotten enough rest so my body can keep pace on my given day? Lately, I've really faltered on the pace days and just couldn't keep up. However, last training cycle, I just gave up even doing my pace days and just ran the mileage on those days at whatever felt good on that day, thus never pushing the pace. I reasoned that I got my speedwork in by racing 5K's on the weekends. I got really close to my marathon goal but blew up at 16 miles. So now I'm trying again and trying to do it better...

This training cycle, I'm determined to at least try to keep pace on my pace days. I have told myself over and over that it's all mental. I think I really can keep a 8:45 - 8:50 pace for a whole marathon. I just have a really hard time practicing that on my own.

So today was pace day. 9 miles on the schedule. Goal was 9 minute miles. I decided to take all my new red blood cells from Montana out on a run... I also decided to run by feel and only look at my watch every mile. So...

Mile 1 - warmup
Mile 2 - 9:12
Mile 3 - 9:04
Mile 4 - 9:02
Mile 5 - 8:53
Mile 6 - 8:50
Mile 7 - 8:56
Mile 8 - 9:03
Mile 9 - 8:50

Average pace for 8 miles - 8:59

I felt good. It was a great run. I FINALLY felt like I was back on track on my training. Today was a great confidence booster. This is week 10 of training and this is where the real meat and bones of the training starts. Tomorrow I am suppose to run 19 miles. Next week starts a series of 20 miles every other week as the long run.

I am going to try and embrace my hard runs so I can enjoy that feeling of flying...

Yup, I'm a speed addict.

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