Being a slow runner is really annoying. It feels really frustrating to still be slow, even after making progress. Like when I dropped almost 3 minutes from my 5K time in a little over 2 months, that was progress. But I was still running well into the double digits for my pace, and I still will be at the end of the month when I run my next race.
But I have noticed things, little breakthroughs, that have improved over time.
Hills aren’t so hard. The same hills that I used to huff and puff and struggle my way up, or partially walk up, are hills I can manage a lot better now. I’m not gliding effortlessly up them, of course, but I’m not walking them or gasping at the top. This only applies to hills on the road routes I run, currently. I haven’t been on the trails at all.
My lazy pace is faster. I was running yesterday and was completely zoned out for long stretches of time, and still finished at around a 15 minute pace (a little over including stops, a little under if they weren’t included.) My zone out pace used to be more like 16 min miles.
My average times on repeated routes are decreasing. Because I wasn’t doing a lot of road running for awhile, I wasn’t running the same routes. It’s hard to compare one run to another when there are so many variables in terrain (on trails) and in topography (for trails and road) between routes, especially in a hilly city. But I’ve seen my averages on the same routes go consistently down from where they were a couple months ago.
Short runs feel short now. I used to think four miles was a commitment and five miles was a long run and had to be saved for the weekend. Now I can do a 7 mile run on a weekday, not because I’m significantly faster, but because I have a different mindset and I have more patience.
I’m still worrying about cutoffs when considering races for next year, and still wondering if I’ll ever break 30 minutes for a 5K, but at least I’ve got a couple of imperfect metrics to remind me of my progress over the past 10 months.