Inspiration….we all look for it. As runners, I think it is safe to say we not only need it, but desire to inspire others as well. Social media is a great avenue to inspire, but it often paints only a partial picture...mostly of the successes, the most beautiful of all the
pictures, the highlights, the high points, the PRs. That’s one reason I think this website is so valuable. Through this venue runners are able to find advice and confide in the not so pretty struggles we all have.
So,just a blog about a run around a track, no pretty pictures, no PR, no frills….though it looked pretty ho-hum, it was anything but for the girl going round and round in the dark.
Still fairly new to altitude...although not “really high”, but my new home sits at about 4900 feet elevation. This, combined with 8 weeks off running from Nov to January has resulted in a much slower pace for me. It’s been a huge fresh start though. The altitude
factor has allowed me to let go of expectations and comparisons to previous paces and efforts, and 8 weeks off convinced me to not even try to compare fitness. It also helped me realize just how dependant, or focused I was on paces, and pushing hard efforts most of the time. Although I felt good last year, I think my hard-assed focus on improving and pushing all the time had a negative impact on my training and racing...and I am not completely free of that...yet.
So far, I have not only been much more aware of that thinking, that drive to push, but have been able to do what I could not do last year….don’t always act on it. As a matter of fact...question it. There are times when pushing past pain, difficulty, frustration
is called for...but not nearly as often as I allowed. I am by no means “reformed” but….I am more aware...and beyond that... more confident in my effort and ability. Often what drives me to push and force effort is lack of confidence and feeling that I need to prove something.
So, today... The household still sleeping, I wake before my alarm...as I always do on “test” days. I get up and get my clothes and gear on, turn my headlamp on and head out the door. “ok, 30 minute warm up...take it easy, warm up easy”. My feet shuffle down the
sandy drive toward the high school track. An additional snaffoo today made me more nervous than usual. I cracked the screen on my garmin and could only go by the 1 mile “beeps” to let me know how far I had run. I was hoping my replacement watch would be in the mail yesterday, but nope. I usually rely heavily on my watch to know what zones I am in, pace, etc. I would have to go completely by feel today. My lower gut was also a little grumpy, so I was nervous things would go south...literally... in the middle
of my 1 mile test. I sure as hell did not want to have to repeat it.
On the track and running circles for 20 minutes in what felt like mid to upper zone 2. I noticed my legs were not waking up and warming up quite like I had hoped. My gut grumbled once more and I thought, I really should start the test soon or I may have to find a tree or a port a potty in the middle of my test. I did my speed ups and increased my effort to get to what felt like zone 4a-4b (I think this correlates with zone 4-5 in Eric’s book). I still got that feeling that my legs were not quite where I wanted them
for a test, so I was a little nervous about how the actual “test” was going to go. The next mile “beeped” and bang, I took off like a rocket! ….as usual. I very quickly reined it in though, but by less than a quarter mile in my legs were feeling fatigued
and I was maxed effort, maybe even a little more than max. My first thought was, “uh oh, this could be bad”. “I’m not even once around the track”, I briefly thought about stopping the test….”its just not going to be a good one” I thought, I quickly countered,
“but it is a test of where you are at, not where you want to be, so get moving and make this the best test you can”. I worked hard through the mile, giving it my best effort, always asking “is this effort sustainable?” and “can you go any faster?” and adjusting
accordingly. I felt like I was slowing the whole way, and quite convinced I was moving way slower than my test a month ago. I finished the test and immediately started analyzing in my brain. I would not know the results until I got home and uploaded them on
the computer...damn watch.
My first thoughts were that I probably warmed up a little too fast...starting the test a little too soon. I also shot out waaaay too fast….a very common problem for me ;). Probably the most important factor was my thinking throughout the test. I wish I had changed my focus to my form. Usually, when I test I really focus and moving as efficiently as possible focusing on form and relaxed movement. My thoughts were more on how slow I felt I was moving. By the time I had reached the house, I had felt like I actually had
a really good test….because I learned things from it. How I respond, both physically and mentally and how I can change/adjust my thinking to have better performance...and possibly better results. I shuffled my way back up the sandy road, shut my headlamp off
and creeped back into the sleeping house.
I plugged my watch into the computer and viola….my 1 mi test was 10 or more seconds faster than the previous. I was shocked. I was quite sure it was at least 15-30 seconds slower. So, the slowness I felt was likely the fatigue in my legs, but I was still able
to move those legs faster. Cool. It is still waaaaay slower than my PR just a year or two ago, and a waaays off from my Cool Impossible of a 5:__ mile, but I’m learning and growing...and that’s my edge!
Best wishes on your running and training this week.