Thursday, September 02, 2010

fall running goal: get faster!

Now that it's September, racing season is upon us! Over the last few weeks, I've been busy building up my mileage and establishing a solid running base. Last weekend's ten miler made me feel like I'm back in the game, so now my focus is turning to something that has always been a weakness: speed!


When I started seriously training for half marathons and marathons last year, I focused solely on distance. This year, I know that I can complete 13.1 and 26.2 miles, so I want to work at finishing them faster. This means I need to start doing speed work - specially, mile repeats.

What is a mile repeat, you ask? Allow me to explain. You begin by running one or two warm up miles. Then, you run a mile at a fast, predetermined pace (my plan called for 8:03), then do a half mile recovery jog, then repeat for as many times as your plan demands (mine demanded 3 miles, total, with recovery jogs in between each).  I had been nervous about this workout since Monday, when I saw it on my schedule. Even though it's September, it's still hot and humid, even at 6:00 am, and my pace has been frustratingly slow all summer. Did I really want to do this now? Couldn't I put it off a few more weeks, when the weather is a little more friendly?

No, I could not. I am running a local 5K on September 25 and I want to place in my age group. That requires speed. Plus, Claire from Will Run for Beer wrote about her mile repeats yesterday and she did ten. Ten! Surely I could muscle through three. I got dressed in the dark, took Calvin out to pee, and jogged one mile to the SFA track as slowly as I could. 


I lined up at the starting mile and took off at a fast clip. The first lap felt great, but naturally that did not last. By the time I was in the homestretch, my side ached, my heart felt like it was going to beat straight out of my chest, and my breath was hard and ragged. First mile: 8:04. I slowed to a recovery walk, grinned, and then paused to bend over and gag into the grass. That was hard.

I walked and jogged the half mile and then I considered just going home. I felt sick and it was so, so humid. But one mile does not a repeat make, so I told myself I could run one more and then call it a day. I lined up for my second mile and took off at a not-quick-as-fast clip. Second mile: 8:27, but ten times harder. I was spent. I started jogging home but half way there, met up with Nathan and the dogs and finished the morning out by walking with them. Total mileage: about four miles. How I felt: like I had just run a half marathon. Verdict: it is really hard to run fast, but every time I do these workouts I get a tiny bit faster. I deem this workout a success.

9 comments:

  1. I hate the "I'm spent and I need to puke" moment. Congrats on making it through.

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  2. I've never gotten to the "I need to puke" point...but I struggle to go "fast" - which for me is a lot slower than anything starting with an 8. I'm learning that I can only start where I am. You did a great job! Congrats on powering through mile 2.

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  3. Nice job! I have never tried mile repeats, but I did a ton of much shorter sprints this summer getting ready for my last 5K and they really helped. I bet you will be ready to kick butt at your race! Maybe someday I'll get adventurous and add in some longer speedwork like this. Hmmm.

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  4. I have a book coming my way called "4 Months to a 4 Hour Marathon." Let me say I have never run father than a 5k, but I'm hoping it gives me and idea of how to increase distance. Ha! I guess I have to start by even getting out to run in the first place. I come here to get inspired to run. It's working!

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  5. I am impressed that you toughed out that second lap! Speed is my weakest link too, and I don't think I have the energy for the workouts during this training go-round. More than a minute or two at below a 9 minute mile and I feel like you did after your second mile.

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  6. Mile repeats are NEVER easy (if they are, you're doing them wrong!), but the upside is you begin to endure them better. You can do more and more as you become accustomed to the effort. Don't give in! Nice work!

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  7. Why do I have "Final Countdown" stuck in my head? Not the words...just: Ba-Ba BA Buh, Ba-Ba BA-ba buhhh....

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  8. Success for sure! For someone who can't run at all, this is really impressive. Good luck with all of your goals!

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  9. Thanks for the comments, everyone! Kate, I think I might try to do speedwork with 800's instead of mile repeats and see if I can cover more distance. Though runvegan's comment makes me want to stick with the miles even more. Decisions, decisions!

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