I had planned to post today about the horrible workout I was planning on having this morning. I’ve been building up a base, and that’s going well, but my speed is nonexistent. Last week I did a fartlek and tried not to care about my pace, but wore a Garmin anyway since I knew I’d be curious afterwards. I was able to run five minutes at last fall’s marathon pace. Five minutes. Right, I just need to run 157 minutes more like that and I’m back, baby. (To where I was. Which—of course, knowing me—isn’t where I want to be.)
So, no high hopes for today’s workout, which involved alternating half-mile segments at something near tempo pace with half-mile segments at a steady pace (faster than an every day jog, but slower than marathon pace). (This is a great workout for easing into real tempo efforts, since you don’t get a complete rest between the segments.) Given the circumstances, I didn’t really fathom I’d hit anything like tempo pace (marathon pace even seemed unlikely) and so I just figured I’d do what I could, get a nice gage of where I’m at, and keep focusing on progressing forward. Not looking back at where I was, or what paces I used to be able to hit. I would aim to be sort of fartlek-y in my approach, not focusing too much on the watch or pace goals.
Then I figured I’d turn the workout into a post about how to keep looking ahead, and how whatever you do today will make it easier next time, even if it’s just a tiny step forward. How you can only do what you can.
Right. All good points. But, um, not today’s post.
Here’s how the workout went: Got a nice cramp on the warm up (um, hello, I haven’t even really started yet), did some strides that felt hard (anything fast is hard), fumbled with my headphones (haven’t listened to music while running in a while), and I was off. If I run real tempo pace, I only have to hold this pace for three minutes; three minutes isn’t so bad. Haha, yea right, that’s old Teal tempo pace, not today Teal. I try to relax and get in a rhythm, not forcing anything, and bam. I hit the first segment shockingly fast. Like it actually did only take me three minutes. Say what?? I’ll probably slow on the next. I always start too fast.
The trick to this workout is not just jogging the recoveries. I’m supposed to keep a pretty honest pace before the next tempo segment. Ha. Hahaha. No way. This is going to be a SLOW jog after that start. Except, it isn’t. I’ve been surprised before how easy fast-ish paces can feel when they come after a harder segment and I’m floored by this one. What the heck? I’m cruising along like I’m actually in shape or something.
|Photo from last fall, not today. But apparently things aren't much different.|
And so it goes. My tempo segments are shockingly close to actual tempo pace. My steady intervals are close to where I thought they might be, but figured I was being overly optimistic. Halfway through, I turn around and get a better understanding of what’s going on. Ah yes, the wind. Suddenly I’m running into it. This will put me in my place.
It doesn’t. (It actually wasn’t very windy, but I was wearing these headphones that—for safety reasons—pick up outside noise really well. Unfortunately, the wind gets amplified and can sometimes make me feel like it’s worse than it is.) I slow slightly, but not much. Expectedly, the final repeats are the slowest, but whatever, I’m elated. I ran faster today than I did in a similar workout last fall, and not far off what I ran last spring. (Actually last spring’s tempo segments were slower, but the steady segments were faster.)
Again, say what?
I think my approach to the workout helped a lot; I didn’t expect much (I honestly expected to bomb), so when it started going well, it was much easier to hold on. (No negativity to make it spiral downward.) I also didn’t force the pace, but tried to relax and let it come to me. (Which works amazingly well, but is incredibly difficult. With low expectations, it’s easier.)
I’m still shocked I had that speed in me (so, I guess cross training works??) but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there’s a long way to go. But I did what I could, and it was pleasantly surprising.