It’s been a long time since I’ve felt truly confident in my running, close to 2 years actually. Though I’ve had some ups along with the downs during that time, I’ve never fully trusted any of them, expecting nothing since nothing was standard fare. But last Friday’s MP run was like a gently fallen seed of confidence that, instead of brushing away as I tend to do, I let sit. And this week it began to grow.
A couple days after Friday’s run, I started piecing things together, going from “I think this is working” to “This shit is working”. That might seem silly, since my reports have pointed to progress since I raised the mileage, but as long as there were still holes where my faster paces were supposed to be and heart rates that wouldn’t budge, I wasn’t completely convinced. The pervading thought I’ve had through all this has been “I’m really good at running easy pace…now what about the rest?”
It took me a day or two to realize that Friday’s run was the most indicative sign of progress I’ve had so far because there was no way I could ever have run an MP section like that before. No way. And in humidity/heat? Double no way. But now that I’ve digested that and am trusting that it is indeed the real deal, my attitude is changing.
My speed session yesterday, for example. Speed days always freak me out, ever since the plateau started and throughout its duration, I’ve always done them with a tinge of dread, as in “how much is this one gonna suck?” But the way I felt preceding yesterday’s session was the way I remember feeling when I was on my growth roll, back in 2009: calm with a tinge of excitement, because I knew it’d be better than last week, though last week didn’t even suck, I am finally able to expect progress, at least for a little while. That’s huge.
The workout was an exact repeat of last week: 9 miles w/ 9x(3min on/1min off @ 10k pace). The 3min on’s were 6sec faster than last week though the dewpoint was worse. Even the last couple cooldown miles were peppy @8:02s, leaving me with an average pace of 7:42 for the whole she-bang.
My heart-rates are getting to where they should be, too. Each week’s speed session brings my Max HR for the workout one beat higher (yesterday, I hit 183 at the end of the last one), so I’m breaking through that wall slowly. For reference, when I wore my HR monitor in a 10k (my PR 10k, actually) I averaged 182, maxed at 188 and that was on a cool day. It’ll be interesting to see where my heart rates go from here and if they ever match the old ones again, though it doesn’t really matter as long as the paces are doing what they should. But back to the running…
Today was a 15-miler that, by all rights, could have been quite sloggerly after yesterday’s hard effort. I would have been fine with that, btw, since I’m now totally focused on quality days; whatever pace the peripheral runs end up at is immaterial, I just want to be recovered enough to do the workouts. Anyway, I started with a creaky 8:50 and didn’t feel so great until about mile 5, then I picked it up nicely, ending up with 15@8:16.
Tomorrow is an 11 which I’ll take real easy, tacking drills/strides on at the end, the better to be loose and ready for Friday’s major tempo run: 12 or 13 miles with 6.5 miles of tempo, the first 5mi@7:05 and the last 1.5mi @6:55.
It’ll be a challenge but one thing in my favor is that Friday is supposed to be mid-to-upper 60s with a dewpoint in the 50s, the best weather we’ve had in months. That should really help. Aside from that, there’s one other thing I think is going to help out on that run: my beautiful new training companion…a little confidence.