BREAKING THINGS DOWN // FOCUS AND DRIVE
When I first got into running all those years ago, all I wanted to do was run fast and far.
While fast and far are both pretty generic terms, they were the two aspects of running that I had struggled the most with for my entire life. That, and the actual running aspect of running. So, with 2019’s rocky start in the world of running and winter weather, these are two aspects of running that I once again turned my focus to. This week in particular, has been both challenging and extremely gratifying when it comes to getting back to running fast and far. Even though those terms have a much different meaning now than they did just a few short months ago.
The run I am by far most proud of is Thursday’s 4 miler. I set out that day with the goal of running a sub 38 minute 4 miler. I broke down my paces, and went in with a plan of exactly how I was going to run the time I had in mind. I pushed myself, had all the fun in the world jamming out to my favorite music, and I finally hit my goal of running a 9:30 pace. My final finishing time was 37:59. I was (and still am) over the moon happy about that performance. It’s the fastest run I’ve done in well over a month. But, more importantly, I never once felt like I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t run at my current speed, or bump the speed up at the next planned interval. And, that is what I have been striving to do all month long.
Then, came the startling realization that I’ve only ran 6 miles twice in 2019 so far.
For me, this number is pretty low. Really low actually, when you consider that in the past I have ran at least this far or farther 2-3 times a week. On top of that, my last 6 mile run was January 13th. A whooping 5+ weeks ago. That statistic was a big slap in the face for me. It was very alarming, and had me seriously wondering if I would ever be able to comfortably run any distance over 4 miles multiple times a week with consistency. I set out to tackle 5 OR 6 mile on Friday. Unfortunately, Friday was just not my day in terms my personal life or gym time. My legs and my head just weren’t in it. My anxiety was as high as it’s been since graduating college last May.
No big deal though, because I knew I had both Saturday and Sunday to get my two long runs in. Not that anyone in their right mind would want to run 5 and 6 miles on back to back days. Or, on a treadmill when running outside is obviously the superior option. Which, sort of put a whole lot of pressure on today’s run. But, I was more than up for the challenge. After yesterday’s stressful workout, I knew I had to redeem myself. Had to prove to myself that I am strong I am driven, and I can run really far. So, I hopped on the treadmill at 5:55 a.m. this morning and that’s exactly what I did.
The only plausible strategy I could think to use to make 6 miles feel more doable was to break it down into 2 mile chunks. Running 2 miles is easy, a cake walk compared to the mileage I had planned for today. I started out a 6 miles per hour and upped the speed every 2 miles. This run was no where near as fast as my last one. In fact, it was a full mine and a half slower. However, given how much I have been struggling with endurance lately, I had absolutely no issues with my time today. Or the fact that my pace was no where close to Thursday’s, and dipped down to 9:51. Because, I RAN 6 MILES WITHOUT STOPPING OR GIVING UP WHEN THINGS GOT TOUGH.