I am not even three weeks into the new year and I am already way beyond my running mileage per week or month from last year. This week marks the start of my third week of the three-four month running plan I laid out for myself, so far it is really hard. Hard because I have never spent this many days continuously running. Hard because I know progress takes time and I am not gauging progress till my April half marathon (my 3rd for the year). Since I am racing in three in three months (90 days) I decided the best approach was to look at the last one and set that as my measurable improvement goal half marathon. For now I just have to follow the schedule and adapt when needed and trust that the plan I put together (using allot of internet and running books) will give me the results I want.
The most important thing to realize with all running, at least for me, is that when training I have a goal for each run I do. Today’s scheduled run entailed a four mile easy run with six mixed fartlek intervals of thirty seconds apiece. Since I want to get to 10 minutes per mile, I have set each sustained interval somewhere between eleven and twelve minutes per mile pace. Unlike normal intervals, the idea behind fartlek intervals, as far as I am concerned at least, is random intervals. I like to run these intervals on varied terrain, hills (up and down) and flat lands and anything in between. I try to set a pace in the desired range and hold it steady for the entire interval. Each week I aim to adjust either time or pacing for these intervals.
The secondary goal for today’s run entailed running continuous and long as possible, especially before and after each fartlek interval. When I run my long day I like to stick to an easy 1:1 or 1:2 walk:run ratio. But on the weekdays easy runs, I want to run continuous and really push myself as far as I can without stopping. Of course if I do feel I need a walk break then I get myself back into my ratios until I am ready to push on. This keeps me from taking to long of an extended break and keeps me pushing the run.
Today I settled on exploring a new route that I had driven by car just to verify it did loop around. I had a rough estimation of distance, but it turns out it was a five and a half mile loop instead of four. The best part of this route was the mixed terrain. This route had the perfect mix of uphills, downhills, flats, rolling hills and slight ups and downs that my muscles had to keep guessing and changing for the entire run. The first mile I warmed up I eased into continuous running, starting with one minute intervals and working my way into longer two to five minute running sets. Just wanting to warm up a bit before blasting my legs to go faster for my fartlek sets.
The first mile rolls by and I have set a comfortable pace around fourteen to fourteen and a half minutes per mile. I often have to remind myself the goal of this run is not to set a new two mile pr or to even focus on running these miles fast. With that in mind I continue to jog, focusing on my form, when suddenly I decide its time to start a fartlek. I am on a nice mildly flat section and off I go for thirty five seconds of increased speed. Afterwards I immediately slow down to a jog again and let my body recover on the run. I find myself getting better at recovering on the move and this is why I push jogging instead of walking after each speed interval. I continue this pattern on various terrain, trying to go fast but steady for each interval. I get so lost in the run I find myself deciding to do an extra interval set, completing seven instead of the prescribed six.
As I finish the final fartlek interval I jog for a bit and mentally start to prepare myself for the last two miles. At this point I realize this run will be longer than four miles and that I now have two remaining . I decide to run as long as possible with whatever speed I have that will allow me to finish the run. After three miles of running fartlek speed legs and pushing my running duration, my legs feel tired. Of course I know this is the moment that leads to changes and this is what I strive for. I push and surge, holding back enough energy to finish one more mile. The mile is not my fastest but I end up running and pushing most of it. Suddenly I have a mile and a bit more to go (I have ran this section of the loop in the other direction before) and I decide its now or never. I pick my head up and smile at all the commuters waiting in line to get onto the road I am entering, I pick up my legs, push my knees forward, legs down and thrust off my toes. I am tired but I know I want this last mile without walking, without stopping. I continue to push, promising myself over and over again just one more hill, couple more steps and I will be victorious. My pace is not fast, but its faster than it should be at this point in the run, I have decided I want a bit more push to finish this run, as if the speed intervals were not enough. I finish with a terrible time but a huge grin on my face. I am starving and wasted, but the endorphins coursing through my body are raging out of control, I suddenly feel like I should swim next or do something more. I am a wasted wretched mess with a massive grin, basking in the joy of how hard I pushed myself and how great it feels now that my legs are no longer in motion.
Of course I have to to stretch,roll and get to work, thus the fun is over. Til next time.