Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Slowing Down, Speeding Up, and the Next Race

A few weeks before we headed on vacation, I went out for a Sunday morning (free, wahoo!) 5k. A girlfriend was supposed to join me, but something came up and that morning and knowing that she couldn't be there, I had to force myself out of bed. I grumbled all the way to the race and made it just in time to start (grumbling is a great warm up- apparently).I finished and ended up getting 2nd place for my age division. And I was shocked. I've only placed in a race 2 times before in my life... and one of those times was in middle school. Beyond actually ranking well, I realized that I raced really poorly. I had no goal in mind, I didn't push myself, and by the end I wasn't even out of breath.

Pairing 2nd place victory with too much confidence made for a dangerous combination. A new running plan was hatched- operation get faster.

Okay, so no this 'new plan' is definitely not a new, novel idea. But actually trying to get faster is a new idea for me.  For years now I  consistently log decently long miles usually just plodding along without a ton of attention to speed (more concerned about RPE- rate of perceived exertion). So for the 3 weeks leading up to our Thailand trip, I decided that my goal would be to get faster. I ran a lot of intervals, I did a lot (for me) of lower body strength training, and I spent a lot more 'quick' time on my feet (although it is a lot less miles). So to speed up, I was actually slowing down my mileage count.

Here is the good, bad, and the ugly.

The good: I've actually gotten faster. And (for me) significantly faster.
Starting 5k pace: 8:17 minute miles
End of 1st week 5k pace: 8:00 minute miles
End of 2nd week 5k pace: 7:44 minute miles
End of 3rd week 5k Pace: 7:36 minute miles

That is a 41 second per mile difference in 3 weeks!

The bad: I was sore. I was grouchy. And I definitely missed my longer runs.

The ugly: I kinda hated it. I view my running time as my time. I think through things, I exert copious amounts of energy on reality tv recaps and mental meal planning, and I spend the time doing something for me that makes me feel good. Taking a step back, running is really a selfish hobby for me, but I love it.

So where does that leave us now? Well, I'm not throwing all the speed work out the window (because it obviously works), but I'm going back to what I enjoy. Andrew and I are squeezing in one more half marathon before the summer heats up too much. And guys, it is a wine themed half marathon. 

The good: It is on a vineyard, gives out 'free' wine, and is the perfect motivation I need to get out of the vacation mindset. 

The bad: It is in 5 weeks... whoops! So I gotta kick up my mileage majorly already.

The ugly: I'm dealing with a new mystery pain/soreness that over the past couple runs has gotten significantly worse. So I will need to be extra careful, spend lots of time foam rolling, and start drinking wine in anticipation of the race. Sometimes that last one can get ugly too :)

Any race plans in your future?


  1. That is fast! Great job! Good luck on the 1/2! I would love to do another one one day!

  2. A wine half marathon??? Um... I think I need to sign up for one of those sometime soon! But I was in the same boat as you - placed in my age group and then immediately tried to up the speed work because it's such a confidence booster. We'll see if it pays off over the next three weeks of races!

  3. Dude that's amazing! Wine?! I actually saw a beer 5k and a wine 5k which is definitely more my speed.

  4. blech, mystery pain is the worst because you're wondering WHY???? i've suddenly started getting this weird pain behind my left knee for no reason. i didn't twist it, didn't injure it, didn't do anything. just .... pain. i attribute that to turning 40! :(