In case you couldn’t tell by my 10+ min/miles in long distances, I am kind of a slow runner. That’s okay. I am also a very new and inexperienced runner, and for almost the entire time I have been running, my focus has been on endurance and working towards long distance. Now that I know that I can, in fact, run at least half of a really long distance, I want to learn how to do it at the speed of light! I also have pretty much no idea what I’m doing.
The other day, I was reading Monica’s blog when I saw a speed work out her awesome, ridiculously fast friend Margot had given her. It looked really awesome and challenging and I left a comment saying that I wanted Margot to be my friend too. Well, turns out Margot really is the nicest person on Earth, because she graciously offered to give me all sorts of amazing advice with lots of great ideas on how to train for speed. Aside from being overwhelmed by her kindness and willingness to help a sister out, I was so excited to put some of it to use!
One thing I hadn’t totally understood was how to do a tempo run. I just read blogs where people say they did one and there is usually a warm-up mile and some faster ones and a cool down, so I was like “Okay, I run fast in the middle”, but Margot explained that there are lots of different ways to do it (for example to sets of two miles each), and that the “fast” time should be at half marathon goal pace. She also explained that the purpose of these runs is to lower the idea of what your comfortable pace is. That makes sense, because when I do my sprint intervals, it is never something I can maintain. I like the idea of having to do a few miles at a pace that feels fast and figuring out how to maintain that so that it eventually becomes comfortable.
I also read a lot of people suggesting running with faster people. Yesterday I had a running date with my new friend Ashley who works in my physical therapy office. The plan was to do a mile warm up, then 3 tempo miles at 9:15, then cool down for the last mile. I had never run with Ashley before, and so towards the beginning I asked what pace she usually runs at and she responded “I usually do about 3 miles at a 7:30 pace.” F. Commence me being scared for my life and certain that I would embarrass myself. I had told her my goals at the beginning so I guess she knew we would be going at snails pace, but I suddenly felt a ton of pressure not to suck.
We completed our warm up at a nice easy pace, then kicked it up and completed mile 2 at 9:13. Right on pace for where I wanted to be. During mile 3, I could feel that we had picked it up a little bit, but I just focused on keeping up and trying to hide the fact that I was already feeling tired and we hadn’t even hit 5k. We finished mile 3 in 8:58, and I was feeling pretty proud of myself, but also worried about maintaining that pace for another mile when Ashley said “Okay, let’s make this one faster!” Yes, coach! Somewhere along this mile, I told her about my 2012 goal of running a 7:59 mile, and that I had never been able to break the 8 min/mi point. She seemed convinced that I could do it sooner than I think, and pushed me into high gear for all of mile 4. So many times I wanted to slow down, or just plain out quit, but having her there pushed me and kept me accountable. We finished mile 4 in 8:07, then I requested a stop to catch my breath before doing a cool down jog for the last 1/2 mile.
So, I’m not sure that actually ended up being a tempo run, but it was definitely a fast (for me) and challenging training run. I kind of hated it in the moment, but I spent the entire rest of the day feeling proud of myself and wanting to tell everyone–the same way I feel after completing a PDR. I am excited that the speed work outs can be so rewarding, and give me that same feeling of awesomeness! I had been a little bummed about feeling like I have to wait until next year to do a full marathon, but this makes me excited to focus on speed and hopefully make some 5K and 10K PRs along the way! I also hope that this means that by the time I do run a marathon, I will be able to do it a decent pace, and that I will feel more prepared.
Until then, I am going to try some more of the ideas super speedy Margot gave me (seriously, this girl just ran a 5K in like 20:20 or something nuts like that!), and continue to force speed demon Ashley to run with me before PT on Wednesdays, and also try to keep running with my speedy friend Nicole!