Mondays are easy run days for me. An easy run for me does not necessarily indicate taking the run lightly, it just means there is freedom there to walk if need be and pacing can be a little more willy nilly. On easy run days I try not to fret with pacing too much and just feel my legs and body and try to see how far I can go. But on easy run days if I need to walk, then I walk. I guess a better name would be unstructured runs. On these runs I sometimes go just a bit faster than pace, others I try new routes or running sidewalks. There is always a goal to these runs… have fun and see what you can do without stressing out.
When I do my speed runs, the goal is to increase speed at some point of the run. This is done either through intervals, fartlecks or tempo runs. When I do my long runs I am focused on pacing. Keep first mile pacing a little lower so I can do consistently the same on the next couple of miles and add some distance. But when I do an easy run, I can really try and open things up and see where I can push myself and how far I can go and what I have in the tank. With easy runs I am not trying to do anything in particular but have fun and get my legs moving.
Today’s easy run came after a Sunday off, Saturday bike ride (read here) and a 5k run on Friday(read here). So even though I had worked them hard the previous two days, I had one whole day of rest before today’s run. Contrary to that my legs felt pretty heavy and sluggish. I worked on stretching the muscles and trying to work out the stiffness, but the legs just did not feel right. As I finished the first mile my calves were especially stiff and sore, I looked at my watch and saw I was on my usual 15:40 Monday pace, even though my body was stiff. So I continued into my second mile, actually stopping and walking for several little breaks. At the end of that mile I saw my pace was 16:45. I continued on and hit a nice downhill followed by an uphill pulling off a 15:29 pace just shy by a 10th of a mile to getting my third mile. While I did not get the full 3 miles by a tenth, with several 30 second walk breaks mixed in, I beat my mileage breaks from my long run which had 16 something for the first and around 17 and a half for the second and third. I pretty much ran the same course for the first 2 miles and had better times.
I think the big difference is that I know how far I can run and so I pushed the pace a little bit. With an easy run I am not afraid to try to go faster or push myself a little harder, even inadvertently and on a day when my legs and muscles did not feel their best. I had managed to still have a great run and even proved to myself that I can go out there and push my barriers a little bit. When I am not thinking about pace and all the minutia of running and not worrying about how fast or far I am running and just let the body and mind go accomplishments will take care of themselves sometimes. Until I looked at the data for the run I felt a little flustered as my legs felt heavy and my muscles did not want to move and my hips were sore and I felt slow, also I had walked some. But, it turns out that I did it and still had a pretty good morning run! I think with running it really is about building on the successes and improving the failures. Til next time.