Fast vs Philosophy


The plan for the first part of this week was simple. Run 8km at a comfortable pace Tuesday. Run 5km fast on Wednesday.

I haven't been feeling all that fast lately. What I have been feeling is philosophical. I keep telling myself that if I work at it, the speed will come. I also keep telling myself to rebuild a bit of a base before I get too worried about speed.

Well, today was the day to benchmark myself. Just how slow was I?

I hit out on the local 5km loop (5.3 or so, technically), and tried to establish a quick cadence right away. This necessitated some careful attention to oxygen, because for the first minute or two I wasn't getting enough. I wasn't interested in huffing and puffing, so I tried to relax myself and get it under control.

Once that settled down, well as much as it ever did settle down, I started wondering how I would ever be able to keep up the pace. If this had been a race, I thought, I would run a positive split for sure. Then again, if it had been a race, I might have been willing to kill myself to keep the pace up. Since it wasn't....

I hit my imaginary 1km marker (I really have no idea how far in it is, but it's fun to pretend that it's exactly 1km) in under 5 minutes. Apparently, there was actually some benefit coming from all this exertion. I guess I'm stuck in a swimming mindset, where doubling your exertion can easily have no visible impact on your speed. I started thinking about how you're supposed to build a race - first third easy(-ier), second third maintainable, last third really pushing. Based on my current level of effort, that plan just did not seem possible this morning.

As I rounded my second corner, I could see two runners ahead of me. I made a mental note to try to catch both of them. This gave me some motivation on the front nine, and took my mind off of what I was going through. Probably broke up a bit of the negativity, truth be told. Anyways, I did catch them both, at the bottom of the small hill. I powered up the hill to the turnaround, and took the barest 5 second walk break at the turnaround.

My split was 12:25 or so, which predicts a 24:20-24:30. This of course assumes that I can hold my pace, which I wasn't placing any bets on.

The first half of the return route seemed to be dominated by the thought "I'll just wait, and pick it up at the turnoff." I don't really know how good that mindset is at helping keep my pace up. Strategically, it probably would have been better to have been focused on the present. I was feeling the effort of the exertion, though, and the current limits of my training. Somewhere in here, I reminded myself that I'm able to keep up that kind of exertion when I'm swimming. I don't know if that's true or not, but I told myself that it was. I'm not sure if that counts as positive or negative reinforcement.

When I finally made the turnoff, I focused on keeping my head up, and aiming for a point in the distance. My cadence probably picked up a bit, but I could not have told you if I was going as fast as I had when I started. I could feel that my will was a bit tapped, but still held on to whatever pace I could manage. If I'd believed that I was still on pace for sub-25:00, I would have been telling myself how rare and cool going under 25 minutes on this route was. But since I was far enough out of my recent comfort zone to have no idea how I was doing, I just didn't know.

There was no real sprint at the end. I maintained, maintained, then clicked the watch and slowed to a walk. 24:22. Nice. Unexpectedly, I had not lost a step on the way home.

Even better, it turns out that I've only ever run that route faster once, a 24:13 over a year ago. I guess that I can be philosophical all I want, but the speed that I thought was missing isn't really as far away as I'd thought.


That's great news. I seem to be OK but not great at the short distances right now but, of course, suck at longer distances. I DO need to do a great deal of base building if I am to race those distances. That said, I'm in no rush to race again.

Great job!

Somehow your blog has fallen off my RSS Feed. Sorry, man.

I am briefly getting my head back above water at work, and will correct the feed situation.

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