Saturday was an amazing long run, so much so that I am still riding my runners high. As I shared in Friday’s blog I was excited about how the run would go. While I woke up that morning with some nerves that perhaps the hour and twenty minute time window wasn’t going to be enough to get in my miles but I just decided to do the best I could in the time allotted before my hair cut. Honestly, I ended up shocking myself.
I did 6.5 miles in one hour and fifteen minutes. An average of 11 minutes and change per mile. My typical pace is five miles in an hour, usually it’s five miles in a little over an hour. Not only was I excited about my pace but I was thrilled that I ran the entire time. Seems kind of a strange thing, I’m a runner I run all the time. But truth be told I usually go roughly 4 miles and then have to walk for a few minutes before resuming my run. I struggle most times to find that comfortable cadence that allows me to just dial in and run. I am by nature and heart a sprinter, I prefer shorter distances at a break neck pace. Running for endurance is a significant challenge for me.
We started slow, allowing my body to get into this gliding rhythm and it felt like a well oiled machine where everything seemed to move together. I struggled a little bit at one point on the incline in the cemetery; we had run into some friends of Regina’s and during the talking and distraction our pace had picked up a bit more. Without realizing it we were going at a sub-10 minute mile. While I am shooting for that pace eventually, for my long runs I much prefer to keep a conversational pace, the pace had turned more into an every other word pace.
But on the flip side I was thrilled that I RAN up that hill….I normally use that hill as an excuse to walk. But I just kept pushing on. Even though I was struggling a bit to catch my breath I just kept going and pushed through until I could once again capture that pace and feeling that I had been maintaining. I viewed it as problem solving, rather than giving up and walking and I knew that I just need to slow my brain down and figure it out. Slow my breathing, slow my arm swing, just remind my body what the rhythm felt like. By the time we got to the top I had regained my composure.
When we got back to the car I was amazed that not only had I broken the 5 miles in an hour barrier that I have been trying to get over but that I had run the entirety of the long run without stopping to walk or to slow my pace. I literally just ran.
I’m not sure if it was the cooler temperatures and low humidity, the amazing friendship and comradery with Regina, making new friends in a cemetery, going a entirely new route, my lighter weight or just focusing on putting in the best effort possible and not worrying about the number of miles. Or if it was a combination of all three.
I feel like Saturday was a turning point for me. The success of the day was really a boost of confidence in not only my new body but also in my skills and abilities. It showed my body and my brain what is possible. Next weekend is a nine mile run, I’m going to continue to focus on the skills that I learned on Saturday: slow start and maintain that pace until I feel that rhythm and then pick up the pace in a slow but consistent manner.
One other realize I had, was that perhaps part of my struggle in previous years is using a longer training plan. The typical 18 week plan may honestly be too much for my body to process and by extension I get run down sooner. I’m not sure, I know that theory will only be proven (or disproved) on October 30th.
This week will start out a little different, with classes beginning I may have to tinker with my training days-I will still maintain my number of days and mileage but I may have to tinker with what days I run. We will see how that works out. I don’t want to deviate too far from the plan since so far it seems to be working, but I may just switch my Monday rest day to Tuesday and run my Tuesday mileage on Monday. I’m going to try that tonight and see what happens.