I talk about patience a lot on this blog because it’s something I really struggle with. Maybe most people do. Right now, I just want to be faster. I want to be back where I was before I fell down the injury rabbit hole almost 2 years ago. And it’s not like I want to be faster but am unwilling to do the work. Exactly the opposite. I’m happy to do the work. I like to run hard. I like to push myself and try to find that sweet spot of running hard enough that you’re working but not so hard that you can’t maintain. It can be a tricky spot to find and I’ve had to bail on more than a couple workouts because I failed to find that spot.
I ran a 5k last weekend, the Monster Mash Dash. First the results, 21:08, 3rd place female. It wasn’t a particularly fast race, so although it’s nice to win an award, I don’t feel good about the race because I just didn’t race well. And now
the excuses my thoughts on why it unfolded the way it did. The course was advertised as flat but it was pretty much the exact opposite of flat. As one guy described it afterward, “The course was fair, but it was definitely not flat.” So it was harder than I was expecting. Also (tmi) but I don’t run as well during certain times of the month as I do others. It’s just the way it is and unfortunately, this race didn’t fall on the best day. And then there’s the fact that I’ve done zero speed work since the marathon. The tempo 10 miler is the closest I’ve come to any type of workout since September. I knew this race would hurt. I wouldn’t say I hate 5k’s but I don’t love them. Once I race a few, I get used to them and how I feel during them. But if I take a long time between them, that first one always hurts. I prefer marathons to 5ks. Anyway, I did my normal 5k warmup, 2 miles easy, 3 x 20 second strides. I felt out of breath and like I was struggling during my easy miles. Not a good sign. I was hoping I was just tired and once I warmed up and the adrenaline set in, I’d be fine.
Once the race started, I settled into the front with another lady. We traded spots a couple times until she passed me at mile 1, she finished 7 seconds ahead of me. I can’t remember when the first place woman passed, I think shortly after mile one. My splits were 6:34, 6:55, 6:44, :58 (.16 miles according to my Garmin. I usually don’t put much stock in the Garmin distance, but after the race most people were saying they thought the course was a little long.) I never found a rhythm during the race. I can usually settle into a sustainably hard pace but I just couldn’t find it. It felt too hard for the pace I was running the whole time. I finished a little frustrated but after some time to think about it, I really don’t think it’s a true reflection of where I am right now. It was just an off day. I was expecting to finish mid 20’s and I think on a different day I would’ve. Of course, I have another 5k coming up on Thanksgiving so I’ll be able to see if that race was just a fluke or if I’m really just in 21 minute shape right now.
Would I run this race again? No, probably not. It was a small well run race. They had a great post race spread with the usual water, bananas, bagels and also pizza and plenty of games and candy for the kids. For coming in 3rd, I won $50 and a blender which was kind of cool and random. I have no complaints about the race itself, but I just didn’t like the course. There are quite a few Halloween runs to choose from and I would probably do one of those before coming back to this one.
Coming off that race, I’ve had a hard time this week not being frustrated with myself. I feel like I was weak, that the second mile should’ve been at the very least 10 seconds faster. And I’ve let that frustration seep into my runs. I’m doing my long runs during the week to free up time and energy on the weekends, so Wednesday my schedule said:
Start off at the slow end for the first mile or 2 at about 9:15/mile, especially after a day off, then work into a nice comfortable pace in the mid to low 8s. Don’t get carried away. I’m not going to have you do any more than 16 until you start training for Boston (just FYI)
So, I decided to run to the lake, meet up with some friends for a couple of miles and run home. First 3 miles: 8:39, 8:34, 7:54. Okay, maybe a little quicker than 9:15, but not too bad. Next 4: 7:37, 7:37, 7:39, 7:41. Hmmm, okay those were definitely quicker than mid to low 8’s. But I felt good and figured I’d just go with it. My watch beeps every mile and that’s the only time I look at it. I’m not great at feeling pace, some days I feel like I’m running strong and see 8:30 and some days I feel like I’m slogging along and see 7:45. So I wasn’t sure how fast I was running each mile until the end of each one. I thought I was probably a little fast but I felt comfortable and knew I would slow down once I hit the lake. I met up with my friends and the next 3 miles were: 8:55, 9:49, 8:04. And then once I got back on my own, I increased the pace again: 7:43, 7:41, 7:48, 7:43. At that point, I felt out of gas and done. I’m still trying to train myself to not rely on gels so much, but it’s a process. I walked a little bit and then ran another mile and a half for 15.5 for the day. When I reported the run back to coach, he wasn’t happy with me.
“Why do you need to run quick?! You’re trying to build endurance. You’ll get your speed work in during workouts. You are frustrating.”
“You have the tools and an opportunity but no patience.”
I was actually fairly happy with the run. It was nice for 7:xx miles to feel easier again. But he’s right, I was over-running the run. The goal of having a schedule is to run the run that you’re supposed to be running. So it’s just as much a failure to miss the goal times by running them too fast as it is to run them too slow. Of course it feels better to be on the faster side but it’s still a failure because you’re missing the point of the workout. He’s right. I have no patience. 2 years ago, I wanted to go from a 3:16 marathon to a sub 3 marathon in 4 months. No patience. I figured I could beat my body into submission until it did what I wanted it to. There are tons of books and anecdotal evidence out there that says this doesn’t work. You end up over trained, burnt out, and/or injured. It might work for a little while but it always catches up to you in one form or another. I know I need to respect my body and the process. I’m trying. We were going to add another day of running this week but decided to stick with 5 to give my body time to recover from that long run. So instead of running this morning, I’ll be doing yoga. I’m injury prone and returning from a pretty significant injury/surgery. I can’t rush the way back or take short cuts. I need to let my body, legs/feet/etc., get stronger so they can handle the work load and stress I’m putting them through. I know what happens when I don’t but even so, it’s hard to not want to push myself.
That’s the struggle. I know one day in the not too distant future, the struggle will be getting through the workouts. They’ll get harder and I’ll miss these days where I felt like I wanted to push harder. Running is such a mental sport. Figuring out the mental game is just as important as the actual running. I’m working on it. And really, I’m just happy that right now, this is the struggle. It’s been 6 months since I started running again and I’m glad that I’m itching to run more instead of feeling like I’m on the brink of another injury. That in itself is progress.