After 4 days alone with the kids, I couldn’t wait to run on Saturday morning. I figured I would play it safe and run easy, especially since it was about 25 degrees out. No need to overdo it in the cold, right?
About 1.5 miles into my run, something made me snap back to attention. Maybe it was someone’s brightly colored clothes. Maybe it was the huge pack of people walking in the middle of the road (and in my way). Maybe it was the mile markers on the side of the road for a race I didn’t know was happening. Whatever it was I realized that I was spacing out.
Lately, most of my runs could be described as spacey. Neither here nor there. Easy by not too easy. Definitely not hard.
Over the last month, I’ve been running for the sole purpose of getting some miles under my legs. I needed the physical and mental break after last year when it felt like I was always training or about to start training for a race. I’m so glad that I didn’t sign up for an early spring half marathon.
But as I was making my way around the perimeter of the park, I realized that I couldn’t always just stick with what was comfortable, that it’s good to push myself sometimes.
Instead of an easy run, I decided to do a tempo run instead. I remembered that Lauren Fleshman created a Workout of the Week for Strava called the Switchblade – 3 x 2 mile tempo with a 20-30 second pace change between mile one and mile two, 2 minute recovery.
The goal is to find a pace that you can’t quite keep for a 6-mile tempo. Then, run the first mile 10-15 seconds slower than that pace and run the second mile 10-15 second faster than that pace. I opted to do 2 x 2 miles since this would be my first tempo run in a while.
I aimed for 9:15 for my first mile but found myself running closer to a 9 min/mile. But it felt good and easy. My legs felt like they had been caged all week and were excited to move. The next mile was hard but good. My lung burned and my breathe came quickly. It felt good to find my stride.
Then, I started my second set. As I’m writing this now, I realized that I didn’t take a 2-minute rest. Oops. That might explain why the second round felt HARD. My pace definitely slowed and it felt like it shouldn’t be this hard to run this pace. Clearly I was too ambitious with my first set and I have a terrible sense of what my pace is.
It was a good reminder and a good lesson. Yes, I worked hard last year and part of me was expecting my training from last year to automatically roll over to this year even though I haven’t been working at the same level of effort. But you can’t “bank” those efforts and expect to start from level 8. I think that it’s an easy trap to fall into.
I have to start over, and I have to do the work. If I hope to run a sub-2 half marathon this year, I have to do the work. It’s going to be hard and uncomfortable, but I have to find that place where it is uncomfortable if I want to get faster.
I know, I know. Last week, I was preaching the value of rest and recover and now, I’m telling you to work hard? It’s a fine balance between the two, but we need both in order to improve. But ultimately, you have to do the work if you want to improve anything in your life – running, yoga, nutrition, stress, work, and wellness.
I will say that I’m kind of excited to try this workout again and to nail my paces.
How do you balance work and recovery? Do you expect to bounce right back to your old fitness and training levels?
This post is the third in a series of posts taking a closer look at the ingredients that make up my wellness story that I’m doing in partnership with Orgain as their Blogger Ambassador. Join in the conversation by following #HowIOrgain on social media. I received compensation and Orgain products as part of this program. All views and opinions expressed are 100% my own.
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