Half Marathon Training Week Three, Day One
As I mentioned in last night's exhausted post, after two painful experiences doing the speed work prescribed in the FIRST training plan, I started doing some research. Apparently, what I had been doing would normally be called "repeats" or "intervals," which I learned was really just one kind of speed training. Those of you who have been running for a while are probably having a big "DUH" moment with me right now, but this is all new material to me... considering I could never even finish running the mile in middle school (how I passed gym is beyond me), the fact that I run three days a week now is mind boggling, let alone actually working on speed. Please.
But I digress. Evidently, I'm not the only one who hates one or more kinds of speed work - like the lovely Kathy, who hates sprint intervals, but likes repeats. Kathy, you can have all of the repeats I'm supposed to do! Thank goodness I'm not the only one who hates some speed work, because it means there are all sorts of options!
I decided today to try a fartlek run... forgive me for being five years old, but seriously, I love that word. I had read a little bit about fartleks before, but went looking for more information and found plenty here: "Essentially, fartlek is a series of faster pickups with a recovery interval in between. The length and speed of the pickups, as well as the recovery intervals, is totally up to you." Before I officially considered myself a "runner," I used to play this game all the time - start with a walk, then run to a streetlight, walk for a while, run to a mailbox, and so on and so forth. This type of format appealed to me a lot more than the structured distance repeats because I didn't feel like I had failed if I had to quit running. The problem with the whole "warm up, run 8x800s, cool down" thing is that if I only ran 6 of those repeats and then was just destroyed, I'd feel like I hadn't succeeded. Is this completely mental? Yes. Does it mean that I'm completely mental? Probably. But if I say to myself, "I'm going to run really fast to that mailbox" and I don't make it to the mailbox, for some reason, I don't feel like a failure. And I need to not feel like a failure!
I really enjoyed this run, actually, though it kind of mauled me. I was slightly worried that the format would give me a little too much freedom and I'd get lazy and not run as much as I should, but I think I had a nice balance of different paces, different interval lengths, and different intensities. This is definitely something that I could see myself doing regularly. It was a tough run, mostly because I'm not used to pushing myself that hard, but again, I have to thank Kathy for some motivation... by incorporating speedwork (and being awesome), she went from running an average pace of 12:30 to 11:15! No kidding, reading that got me into my running gear today. That's an amazing improvement! So yes, I had to push myself, but I can push myself hard once a week if it means seeing great improvement.
That being said, while I'd love to increase my overall pace, I learned with this run that if I know I can stop whenever I want to and I don't have to stay at any pace for very long, I can run super fast! While obviously my pace was all over the board with this one (which I believe is the point, or else I seriously misunderstood), my fastest pace was 6:12! Who knew?! Now, granted, I probably ran at that pace for all of 5 seconds, but I'm impressed. There wasn't even something scary chasing me.
So I believe there's definitely a fartlek run on the schedule for next week as well. And who knows? Maybe I'll even throw in some hill repeats.