Yesterday morning, I was feeling SO nervous about my run. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to get nervous about running (unless maybe before a race), but I always tend to get nervous before doing speed work. Yesterday, I had a tempo run on the schedule:
20 minutes at tempo pace
5-minute cool down
Tempo runs are tough. Those are the runs I get the most nervous to do, but also the most rewarding when I'm done. Going into yesterday's run, I had no clue what my tempo pace was. Typically, a tempo run is done at a pace that you could sustain in a race for about 45-60 minutes (roughly your 10K race pace). I used to do them at an 8:00-8:15/mi pace, but that was back when I was in my peak running shape. I figured that I would just aim for 9:00-9:10, but even that seemed really daunting. Almost all of my runs for the past several months have been between 9:45-10:45.
The weather was really nice for running yesterday morning. I wore a long-sleeved shirt, which was perfect. I also wore the new Altra Paradigm shoes. I've been wearing them ever since I got them at the RW Half, and I love them! The cushioning is very similar to my trusty Brooks Adrenalines, but they have the Zero Drop heel and the foot-shaped toe box, which are Altra's signature designs to keep your feet in a very natural position. I haven't worn them on a long run yet, so that will be the big test for me; but as long as I don't get blisters on a long run, I'm totally sold on them, and will use them exclusively.
I took the 5-minute warm-up very slowly, and then when my Garmin beeped at the 5-minute mark, I picked up the pace until I felt like it was about where it should be. I was surprised to see that it was in the high-8:00's/low-9:00's. After a few minutes, it sort of settled in around 8:45-8:50, so I made it a mission to keep it at that pace for the rest of the run. The hard part about running for time rather than distance is that I couldn't really visualize where I was running hard to. I just knew I had to maintain that pace for 20 minutes, and speeding up wouldn't get me "there" any faster.
I focused on my running form, I focused on my long-term running goals, I focused on what I was going to eat for lunch--basically anything to get me through those 20 long minutes ;) Finally, my Garmin beeped to signal me to cool down, so I jogged the last 5 minutes and caught my breath. It was a tough run, but not SO hard that I couldn't have kept going (which is what a tempo run should feel like). My pace for the tempo portion ended up being 8:41/mi, which I was very happy with. (Still, I can't believe I once ran a half-marathon at a 8:33 pace!) I felt fantastic all day after this run.
Yesterday afternoon, we got a phone call from the principal of Noah's school. She said that in the cafeteria during lunch, a boy sitting near Noah got a little rough with him and then pulled his hood from the back, which cut off his airway for about 10 seconds. A girl sitting there ran and told on the boy, and Noah was obviously really upset. The principal said he had a mark around his neck from it, but he was okay.
I was really upset, and wanted to talk to Noah. Jerry and I went to the school right away and spoke with the principal, who called Noah down to the office to talk to us. He was okay, but he definitely had red marks going across his neck. He said he thinks the boy was just trying to be funny and play around, but Noah had told him to stop it (he had been poking Noah in the arms and chest before he did it).
I don't think the boy was intentionally trying to choke Noah, but he certainly needs to learn to keep his hands to himself when someone doesn't want to be touched. The principal said that he'll be disciplined for it, although I'm not sure exactly what will happen. The main thing I was concerned with was Noah. He's a super sensitive kid (he even thought he was in trouble when the principal called him to the office yesterday), but he seems fine.
Today, I had a three-mile easy run on the schedule. One thing that I'm definitely going to take seriously this time around in training is the pace of my easy runs. I've always tended to do them faster than recommended, and there really is no benefit to doing that. Since I'm doing speed work 1-2 times per week, I want to focus all of my energy on that, and use do the easy runs at the recommended easy pace.
I plugged in a few numbers today, based on my current fitness level, and I think my easy runs should be done at around 9:53-10:47 per mile. I'm not even going to aim for the fast end of that range, but rather just run at whatever feels very easy--probably toward the slow end of the range.
My run today was fantastic! It was oddly warm outside (66 degrees), but I ran at what felt to be a super comfortable pace. It was really windy, but it felt good because it was warm. Today was one of those runs where I just felt great the entire time, and I enjoyed the whole thing!
Getting back to a running schedule, including the speed work, has really renewed my running libido. I feel excited about it again, and I'm looking forward to seeing my improvement (well, hopefully!) over the next several months.