On Speed

Yesterday I enjoyed a well-deserved rest day after a long streak of running, ending with back to back speed days, a big mistake that I got away with, at least so far.

I ran 8 days in a row again, in order to get back on track with my usual Thursday rest day. 8 days in a row isn’t that big of a deal, especially since most of my runs are easy, but because of my weird schedule last week and a mistake on Tuesday, I ended up doing three speed workouts in the span of 5 days. Oops.

I guess I can’t say Tuesday’s hard workout was a mistake. I just let myself get caught up in the moment. I had a terrible start. I was out on the Hartley Nature Center trails, without any bug spray on, and I spent the first mile obsessing over every last hint of a possible mosquito proboscis piercing my skin, stopping and slapping at my legs, arms, and back as though I was Nancy at the end of The Craft. I didn’t stop obsessing over bugs until I was like 3 miles in. I wanted to quit several times because I was so frustrated by the mosquitoes, the bites I’d already gotten that were itching like mad, and the energy I’d expended flailing my limbs. I kept thinking “Ok, that mile was faster than the last one” and they kept getting slower and slower. I wanted to finish under 2 hours, so I started to speed up once I passed the biggest climbs, and I ended up doing a “fast finish” workout, with the last 2/3 of a mile ramped up to a 12:46 pace, which is fast for me for any non-speed workout but is especially fast for a trail workout.

I felt fine on Wednesday and did my tempo run on the “northern” Lakewalk. I did a 3.5 mile tempo (well, basically progression) run, starting at 14:00 (or thereabouts) and ending at 11:00, for an overall pace of 12:30. Pacing-wise, I did ok, with a gradual upward progression in pace (on the graph, I mean, obviously in time it was a downward progression) and occasional spikes or dips. I still end up overcompensating one way or another when I’m trying to hit a certain pace. I’ll speed up, my watch won’t have caught up, and I’ll suddenly be :30 to 1:00 above the pace I want to hit, then I’ll back off and end up backing off way too much. It’s annoying.

I can’t do that again, though, or I’ll wear myself out. My sleep schedule has been off lately, and I’m hoping to get it back on track this weekend. I’m 8 days out from my goal race, and I’d like to be fresh and well-rested when it comes around.

I read a blog post about speed today from Jim at 50 After 40, a straightforward site written by a pretty fast guy. He wrote about the “speed ceiling,” and how we don’t all have the potential to run elite level times, no matter how much we train and how hard we try. I really hope my “speed ceiling” is a lot higher than my current level. I realize certain achievements are unobtainable, both because I just don’t have the natural talent and because I don’t have the drive and ambition to really dig deep, but I’d like to think I can graduate from the back of the pack in a few years. With patience, luck, and hard work, I think it’s possible!

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