While I really love the new training schedule I've been doing, there aren't any tempo runs, which has been on my mind the entire time. I really think tempos are crucial (for me, anyway) in doing well during a race. I've been reading a book by Matt Fitzgerald (author of 80/20 Running, the book I just read) called Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel. I realized that "running by feel" is what I was doing in 2013 when I was my fastest. I wasn't following a strict schedule, but I did have structure and I adjusted it as necessary based on how I was feeling.
Today, my intuition was pushing me to do a short, fast run. I needed it for the confidence, if nothing else! So, I dressed in the same clothes I wore to the race Monday (I didn't want to do well and then think, "Maybe it was the clothes!" haha). It was a great morning for a run--not super windy, and 29 degrees.
The first mile was tough, and I started doubting whether I could really do it. But, I knew it was just mental. Physically, I was pretty confident I could run 3-4 sub-8:00 miles; but the mental blow that the race took on me made me doubt myself. I had my iPod with me, which was actually pretty helpful--normally, I don't run with music, but today I wanted it to help me feel pumped up. Eminem always helps me run faster! ;)
I hit the first mile on target, at 7:58. I wanted to stop so badly, but again, I knew my body was capable. I tried to shut of my mind, and just focus on the music and my surroundings. I noticed that when my heart rate gets over 175, I start to feel like it's *too* hard; so I tried to keep my heart rate under 175, but keep the pace under 8:00 as well.
I started thinking, "Maybe I'll just run two miles at this pace--I can go for three next week..." but I kept reminding myself that it was only a head game. I focused on the mechanics of my body, just the rhythm of my legs moving over and over, and my arms pumping. Anything to get my mind off of how difficult it felt. Hit mile two at 7:54.
The third mile was the hardest. I was so tempted to call it off, and I kept bargaining with myself to go just a little farther. I knew this run would either make or break my confidence, and like I said, I really need the confidence right now. My pace slowed to about 8:10-8:15 for the first 3/4 of that third mile, and I told myself it was okay. That's actually my tempo pace, so I knew that I would be doing my body good to run the last mile at that pace, even if it wasn't what I'd hoped.
When I had about 0.2 miles left, I decided to really run my hardest to try and get my last mile under 8:00. I had to go past my house just a little, and when I got to my neighbor's house, I heard my Garmin beep that I'd hit mile three, so I stopped my Garmin and started walking home. Last mile was just barely under 8:00, at 7:59.7 (the app rounds it up to 8:00 even, but I am going to be technical because it *was* under 8:00!)
This run was my second fastest outdoor training run ever. The first was in March 2013, where I ran a 7:44/mile pace. Other than that run, TODAY is the only other time I've run three sub-8:00 miles in a row. Even at my 5K last month, my third mile was over 8:00. As you can see, I'm pretty damn happy that I was able to do this today!
My heart rate was much better than on Monday's race, too. The dip in my heart rate today about nine minutes in is when I had to cut across an unpaved section, so it was snow/ice/grass and I had to slow down. I'm not sure what caused the high heart rate on Monday, but it's nice to know that it was just a bad run that day, and my training is still on target.
I finally had my breakthrough in August. I remember telling my friend Thomas that he could mark my words: I would get back to my goal weight and PR my 10K in 2016. I said it as a very bold, dramatic statement--not "I'm going to try" or "I'll do my best", but "I WILL get back to 133 pounds and run a 10K under 49:23 next year."
Because I was so cocky about it, I thought I'd better actually do it. However, I knew that if I could pull it off, it would be a true miracle. Lose nearly 30 pounds and improve my 10K pace from 11:27 to 7:55 in about six months? Ha! But I started counting calories, and I quit running altogether for six weeks in order to heal my stress fracture. In October, I started gently running again--not much distance, and no speed work.
On October 1st, I ran the same route that I ran today, and it looked like this:
The weight loss alone made my running much better than the 11:00+ miles I was doing before! But what interests me most is when I compare it to today's run. I ran the exact same route. My heart rate was a little higher today, because I was pushing myself hard, but my pace was 7:56 instead of 9:35. If you're a runner, then you know what a big deal this is to me.
I still have 5-1/2 weeks until my goal 10K race, so I have to work hard to be able to pull it off; but, I no longer feel like it's impossible. And, if I don't hit my goal in April, I'll still have EIGHT MONTHS to work on it. Today's run was a big boost in my confidence that I may actually be able to pull of the PR next month! It feels great :)