Thursday, September 02, 2010

fall running goal: get faster!

Now that it's September, racing season is upon us! Over the last few weeks, I've been busy building up my mileage and establishing a solid running base. Last weekend's ten miler made me feel like I'm back in the game, so now my focus is turning to something that has always been a weakness: speed!

When I started seriously training for half marathons and marathons last year, I focused solely on distance. This year, I know that I can complete 13.1 and 26.2 miles, so I want to work at finishing them faster. This means I need to start doing speed work - specially, mile repeats.

What is a mile repeat, you ask? Allow me to explain. You begin by running one or two warm up miles. Then, you run a mile at a fast, predetermined pace (my plan called for 8:03), then do a half mile recovery jog, then repeat for as many times as your plan demands (mine demanded 3 miles, total, with recovery jogs in between each).  I had been nervous about this workout since Monday, when I saw it on my schedule. Even though it's September, it's still hot and humid, even at 6:00 am, and my pace has been frustratingly slow all summer. Did I really want to do this now? Couldn't I put it off a few more weeks, when the weather is a little more friendly?

No, I could not. I am running a local 5K on September 25 and I want to place in my age group. That requires speed. Plus, Claire from Will Run for Beer wrote about her mile repeats yesterday and she did ten. Ten! Surely I could muscle through three. I got dressed in the dark, took Calvin out to pee, and jogged one mile to the SFA track as slowly as I could. 

I lined up at the starting mile and took off at a fast clip. The first lap felt great, but naturally that did not last. By the time I was in the homestretch, my side ached, my heart felt like it was going to beat straight out of my chest, and my breath was hard and ragged. First mile: 8:04. I slowed to a recovery walk, grinned, and then paused to bend over and gag into the grass. That was hard.

I walked and jogged the half mile and then I considered just going home. I felt sick and it was so, so humid. But one mile does not a repeat make, so I told myself I could run one more and then call it a day. I lined up for my second mile and took off at a not-quick-as-fast clip. Second mile: 8:27, but ten times harder. I was spent. I started jogging home but half way there, met up with Nathan and the dogs and finished the morning out by walking with them. Total mileage: about four miles. How I felt: like I had just run a half marathon. Verdict: it is really hard to run fast, but every time I do these workouts I get a tiny bit faster. I deem this workout a success.