THE FRUSTRATING REALITY OF RUNNING "FAST"
Lately, I have been that person who just flat out dreads their long runs (looking at you dungeon treadmill!!!). Which is a major problem when 4 out of your weekly runs are 4 miles or more. I have instead been finding myself looking forward to my two shorter (3 mile) speed sessions. WHO AM I TURNING INTO. With that in mind, there is still plenty of self-doubt and struggle bus moments during these shorter, faster runs. So, let's get into it!
The biggest issue that I have had when I set out to work on speed is that "Fast" is such a vague term. Like my fast is going to be completely different from someone else's fast. And, today's fast is going to be drastically different than the fast times you were running last week, last month, or even last year. But, we're human so obviously we are going to compare our fast to everyone else's and of course our past times. Oh, and then there's the fact that society has this idealized image and number of what it looks like to be a fast runner. Well, EXCUSE ME FOR NOT RUNNING 6 OR 7 MINUTE MILES!!
Also, treadmill fast is gonna be so damn different than outside fast. First of all, outside you have way more motivation to actually have fun while running fast, and not be super intimidated because you don't have your speed/pace staring back at you while doing so. What motivations you ask: downhills, wind, wild animals, racing cars, and seeing that one random person you haven't seen in approximately 75 years and deciding that the world will absolutely end if they see you in your current hot mess state!
However, I do have to admit that their are some upsides to doing speed work on a treadmill. You can increase your speed at regular intervals and actually see yourself maintaining a fast pace that once felt impossible. Also, NO FUDGING HILLS OR STOPPING FOR TRAFFIC/TRAINS..OR FALLING. But, obviously there is that fear factor of knowing exactly how fast you're going and thinking to yourself HOLY CRAP THERE IS NO WAY I CAN HOLD THIS PACE FOR LONGER THAN A FEW SECONDS!
Next, running fast (as opposed to slow, steady) always sounds better in theory. Like oh I won't be on the treadmill/out on the road for as long and think about how good it will feel to go speeding along like the roadrunner that I really am. Plus, if I'm running fast on the treadmill I have no choice but to use good form. Cause, otherwise once you get over like 7 mph and try to run without using your arms/running tall...you will fail. Big time. It sounds like a great time until you're in the middle/end of a 3 miler and questioning why you even run.
Obviously, I cannot write this post without mentioning the necessity of incorporating some form of speed work into your weekly running routine. It makes you stronger...both physically AND mentally. It shows you that you need a lot of pain now for a whole lot of gain later!
The absolute hardest part of running fast is when you give it your absolute all, blood/sweat/and tears...and then proceed to beat yourself up the minute you get done about not going fast enough or trying hard enough. That has and always will be my biggest struggle. Probably because I'm not a natural runner or genetically gifted when it comes to speed. I have to work my ass off just like 99% of every other runner out there who doesn't fit the mold society's stereotypical runner.
Because of this, it all to easy to cut yourself a break when it comes to what running "fast" looks like and feels like for you. This is especially true for me when it comes to running outside...even though I have a Garmin forerunner that allows me set a goal pace, and see how fast I run each mile. I purposely avoid looking at it for the majority of my runs unless I need to see what miles I'm at or how much farther I have to go. My mindset all too often is, Hey at least I'm out here tackling all the not so fun obstacles that come with running outdoors. I'm just trying my best to stay on my feet and avoid getting run over...who has to time to focus on how fast/slow they're running?!
Yesterday, I beasted it up and ran 3 miles in 27:20. I felt freaking fantastic the entire time...until the last mile when I challenged myself to up the speed every tenth of a mile. And then, as if that wasn't challenging enough, during the last 1/2 mile I upped the speed by .2 every tenth of a mile. Mentally, that was so so SO DAMN HARD. It made me wonder why we don't have remote controlled treadmills. Like, how freaking amazing would it be to have someone who could control the speed/incline/power on your treadmill from somewhere else all with the touch of a button.
I know what you're thinking...first of Caitlyn just needs to suck it up and be willing to push herself to get COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE. Second, who the heck else is gonna be up at 4:30 a.m. to remotely control the treadmill while I run? I haven't worked out all those details...or how to like have a remote that would work without the person being in the gym with me...but it is a pretty great idea...YOU HAVE TO ADMIT THAT!!
Today's long run was the exact opposite...and I can't blame it all on the fact that yesterday was leg day; although I am sure that played a part. I WAS A MESS. I went into it super excited to run an easy, slow 5 miles. I had a good attitude...considering I haven't ran outside in about a thousand years. But, damn it if I wasn't struggling before I had even made it a mile. And then, as I neared the 3 mile mark, my hips and lower back were just like OH THIS IS THE PERFECT TIME TO GET SUPER TIGHT!
So, here I am trying to tell myself to just run the mile I'm in and also almost in tears because if 5 miles is hard HOW THE FRACK AM I GONNA HANDLE 13.1 IN SEPTEMBER?! I was even running with good form. But my body was just not in the mood to run today...at all. I still got 5 miles in...because NO REGRETS, NO EXCUSES. But, I hated like 90% of it. Zero fun was had, all the self-doubt and the I Fucking hate running and why in the Hell did I think running a half-marathon was a good idea thoughts were there. No amount of pretending to be running outside could have saved me this morning. I still tried it though!
Lastly, since I know someone out there reading this (all like 5 of you) will suggest doing track workouts or sprint intervals on the treadmill...NO. Not a chance...not for all the money in the world. I am not a track workout person. It just reminds me of how slow I am compared to like 90% of other people who run and brings back some not so fond memories from some tough XC/Track practices. I was that person who could have ran hard enough to the point of passing out/vomiting and still felt like I wasn't fast enough because person x finished faster than I did. So, don't think I haven't thought about implementing track workouts...cause I have...and then I had some not so great flashbacks.