DE JA VU AND MIXED FEELINGS // 3 MILES VS. 8 MILES
I ran 8 miles for the first time in 2 weeks yesterday. It was challenging to say the least.
For starters, I completely slacked on Saturday and neglected my usual stretching+icing routine. Not the greatest idea in the world considering I had a long run the next day, but whatever. I still managed to get in a decent amount of physical activity on my rest day, with a 3ish mile walk and a ton of walking while grocery shopping. One thing that became blatantly obvious on that hilly walk was how sore my calves were…and how badly I needed to spend a million minutes stretching/foam rolling to loosen my entire lower body up.
On thing I was smart about pre 8 mile run was sleep. I made sure to be in bed no later than 8 pm…and also ate basically all the carbs that day. So, I was cautiously optimistic that the run would be decently faster than my prior 8 miler, despite the extreme wind that was in the forecast for Sunday. I woke up at 4:15 a.m. ready to absolutely destroy those 8 miles. I was genuinely excited to be out running for a long period of time, just jamming out and getting in my daily therapy session.
Miles 1-3 were really positive, and I felt like I had this run in the bag. Like, there was no way I wouldn’t shave like a good 45 seconds to a minute off my previous time.
I felt like I was putting in around 1,000% effort given the weather condition and the distance I had to cover. My pacing was spot on for a long run, 9:30 for the first two miles. I even took my time during my gel stop 3.28 miles in, completely ignoring the time and pacing readout on my watch…not wanting to stress over those numbers so early on. After that brief pause, I felt like my times were either getting slightly faster…or at least maintaining my starting pace. I had such a positive mindset about how I was running and adjusting my form to battle the wind.
So, to look back now and see my average paces plummet down near the 10 minute mile pace…is a little hard to swallow. Granted, I did end up having to take 3 whole entire trips down and around the twisty trail; in what felt like absolute darkness. And, somewhere around the 5 mile mark, I did sort of feel my legs and hips start to ache. By some stroke of luck (or just a whole lot of effort), I was able to get my pace back up to 9:39 for my eight and final mile. I hadn’t ran that fast since mile 3.
When I saw my splits immediately after finishing…I felt okay with them.
I hadn’t quite hit where I wanted to pace wise, but I had had a lot of fun and survived running in/with the wind. Sidenote: Running with the wind at your back has got to be the funniest experience ever when it comes to running in shitty weather conditions. It’s also the closest I’ll ever get to flying/levitating/doing magical stuff like they do in Harry Potter. Anyhow, it wasn’t until I went through to subtract my total time per mile from my actual moving time (otherwise known as gap pace) and calculated my average pace for all 8 miles…that I caught some major De Ja Vu.
Although my total time was 3 seconds slower than my 8 mile time form two weeks ago…the average pace was exactly the same. 9:44. Just for reference, back in April my 8 mile time was an average pace of 9:23. Almost a whole 3 minutes faster than this one…and that’s with WAY MORE HILLS. Makes sense. April was also probably the last time that I was able to do legit push ups without any pelvic pain. So, I guess that could explain a lot of the time gap. On the one hand, I was thrilled to just have maintained the same pace/time while fighting the wind. On the other hand, I was really upset that I’m still not back to running those sub 9:30 times that I loved hitting back when I was at 100%.
In the end, I convinced myself that I had done my absolute best on that run. I moved on to psyching myself up for just how painfully difficult it would be to pace myself for today’s 3 miler.
The one thing I hate about any distance under 6 miles (aka “short” runs), is just how hard it is to build up speed and chip away at your overall time. ‘Cause I am that crazy person who looks back at their running lob and will compare this weeks 3 and 4 milers to last weeks, and complain a whole lot if the time are not going down significantly. It’s just how I roll. With that in mind, I was unsure of how realistic beating an average pace of 9:08 would be today, considering just how much I had put my lower body through on Sunday with my heavy leg day post 8 mile run.
However, I hadn’t expected to feel so energized on during the entirety of today’s 3 miles. It was like, running in the wind for almost an hour and 18 minutes yesterday had made me stronger, forced me to run with good form. Because, today’s run felt incredible. It was fast and sidestitchey, and cold enough to see your breath. It was sweat and snot flying everywhere, but not really caring because I was having entirely too much fun pushing myself every step of the way. I sprinted my way downhill, past Casey’s, and to the finish line (the gym).
And, even better than hitting any PR or seeing a million cute dogs over the course of a run, I felt like I could run another several miles. Like, my final distance was 3.02 and I had so much more energy left in the tank. I might have been 3 seconds per mile short of beating last Monday’s 3 mile time…but that didn’t take away from the joy of this run. The wholly cow my entire lower body should be so much more sore from Sunday’s workout+run…WHAT IS EVEN GOING ON.
Whether it’s running or just life in general, things are definitely not always going to go your way.
In fact, they might now even go your way all that often. But, there are still valuable lessons and things to be taken away from the instances when things don’t go your way. You get stronger. You learn how to thrive in the face of adversity. And, perhaps most importantly, you learn what it truly means to never give up on yourself…even when others do.