WHY DO THE NUMBERS EVEN MATER?!?
Because, when you have a goal to reach and you're trying to get back into this whole running thing...number are all you can think about.
And, what's even more difficult, is trying to convince yourself that the number don't define you. Ultimately, it's just number, data, and a way to track your workouts. The number don't show how hard you pushed to run 6 miles, or how many times you felt like giving up. Or how absolutely terrible you felt and that you were basically riding the struggle bus for the last several miles. At the end of the day, your paces and your weekly mileage, shouldn't make or break your identity as a runner.
Yet, here I am, only four runs in post time off due to injury and all I can think about are the numbers.
How, for a hot minute last Friday it felt like things were looking up when I ran 5.26 miles at 9:36 pace. And how now on my second day in a row of running 6 miles, I am stuck in a rut of running 10:00 pace. Yeah, the weather has been a bit of a factor...BUT COME ON. This is so not how I was expecting things to go. I honestly think a lot of it has to do with just how fast miles 1-3 are. With the shit load of hills that I deal with during the first 2 miles or so; and the fact that I feel like I now have something to prove, both to myself and literally everyone else who is used to seeing me hit the pavement 6 times a week.
I want to be able to say that I came back from my injury/time off from running stronger. I want to be hitting running PRs on a fairly regular basis and oh yeah figure this whole pacing thing out because YA CAN'T RUN A 9:26 MILE 1 AND EXPECT TO HAVE AN ENERGY LEFT FOR MILES 4-6. It just doesn't work. I want to be able to feel that runner's high again when I run 7-9 mile in a super fast time and surprise myself by how effortless it felt while I did it.
I know it sounds silly, but in a town the size of mine, people are going to notice when you're consistently struggling at the same mile marker every single run. Especially with road construction and more traffic than usual at particular spots on your route. Like, when I'm running (aka shuffling) up the "min hill" to cross the rail road tracks only it's not really a min hill it's more of a full blown, double hill that is steep AF. And it get's me every single time at like the 4.5-5 mile mark. I just cannot get up that hill without struggling and getting panicky watching all the cars drive past me.
Obviously, if you're looking to get stronger, faster, and build more endurance...THE NUMBERS DO MATTER...at least a little bit.
You sorta have to pay some attention to them, whether they are good or bad. Fast or slow. I think what's been the biggest revelation in all this craziness that is half-marathon training and returning to running...is just how hard running 10:00 minute miles can feel when you have zero energy and your legs feel like cement blocks. Throw in some heat and a whole lotta humidity and basically feels like it's impossible. But, you still have to trudge on so you can get your miles in for the week and get this whole recovery show on the road.
Yeah going from 14 miles last week to 30 or 35 miles this week probably isn't the smartest move on my part. But, according to the number, it's necessary. I've only ran 10 miles once and 9 miles 5 times since my first 9 miler in March. Sure, I've had tons of 7 and 8 milers that were perfectly fine. Great even. But, I still need to tackle more 9, 10, and even possibly 11 milers to be ready to tackle the big bad half-marathon in September.