A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My inner greyhound

Photo from http://www.pinkfromage.com

All day I'd been dreading my evening run.

Treadmill? Blech.

First attempt at speedwork? Double blech.

Speedwork, by the way, is the process of teaching your body that it can run faster by running it faster. And the way to run it faster is to run shorter distances at a faster pace.

For example, this evening my training plan told me that I needed to run a total of five miles. One mile of a warm-up jog, 1600 meters (or one mile) at a 8:54 minute/mile pace, an 800 meter (or half mile) recovery jog, followed by another 1600 meters at 8:54, followed by another 800 meter jog, and then a cool-down mile.

To put that in perspective, all my other training runs have been done at either 9:25 or 11:02 minute/mile paces. Or something close to that, anyway. Typically a little slower.

I hate running fast on the treadmill. It's very difficult for me. So, I was definitely not looking forward to running at almost my fastest race pace ever on the 'mill.

I changed into my running clothes, bemoaned the fact that all my good running socks just went into the dryer, grabbed my iPod, and set off for my warm-up mile at 5.0 MPH. For the first half mile every little thing was bothering me. Is that a twinge in my left hip? My triceps are sore from Pilates yesterday. My iPod is irritating me. I think my tank top is chafing my armpit. Oooh, is that a new twinge in my right foot?

As I closed in on the end of the warm-up mile I began to feel nervous. Could I really run a mile on the treadmill that fast? Before heading to the basement I'd checked the treadmill pace conversion chart and decided I'd run my fast miles at 6.4 or 6.5 MPH. That wasn't quite as fast as the training plan wanted me to run them, but it was still faster than any of the my other training runs. Especially if you consider that I still have no idea what incline my treadmill is set at.

When the warm-up mile ended, I punched the buttons to take the treadmill up to 6.4 MPH. It felt fast. It felt hard. But it also felt good. I put on some of the music I mentioned in my last post and resolved not to look at the distance counter until the end of each song. As I ran, I started to get goosebumps. Was I really going to run an entire mile on my treadmill at a speed faster than I'd ever dared before? In fact, I was. And, in fact, I felt so confident that I went ahead and nudged it up to 6.5 MPH. I finished that first interval feeling strong.

Now, I admit that I walked the first quarter mile of my half mile recovery jog. I probably could have run the entire half mile, but I wanted to actually recover and be able to complete the next speed interval without dying. As my recover half mile ticked down, my confidence grew. I planned out my songs and had them queued up. I figured that at 6.5 MPH it would only take about three songs to make it through my mile.

I started my next interval at 6.4. Then, after about a half mile, I kicked it up to 6.5. It still felt hard but it also felt as though it was flying by. The music had me pumped. And while I was running I thought about all the people I know who inspire me to run:

Lindsay because she ran outside in the incredibly horrible weather we've been having. Because she ran her first marathon in December and is already training to run another one in April. Because she's the best running supporter you could meet.

Holly because this time last year she was laid up after knee surgery but recovered and did two triathlons in 2008. Because she has increased her speed and endurance in amazing ways. Because she has immersed herself body, heart and soul into becoming the best runner she can. And when I need an extra push, I envision how we're going to look crossing the finish line together at our half marathon in July. I dream of holding hands and lifting them above our heads in our finish line photo.

Aimee because she has the most amazing view on body image of anyone I know. Because she looked at her health and said she wanted to improve it. And she did. Because she runs, bikes, Yogas, strength-trains for the pure joy of it.

Thinking of those girls and all that they've accomplished kept me going strong. So strong, in fact, that I pushed that 'mill up to 6.8 and then, for the final tenth of a mile, to 7.0 MPH.

Then I walked a little less than a quarter mile before resuming my recovery jog. I finished up with my one mile cool-down going from 5.5 MPH to 5.1. Five miles total. In less than 55 minutes.

I kicked that speed work out's butt. I hope my inner greyhound is here to stay.


Anonymous said...

::cheers:: !!!! Sounds like an INCREDIBLE workout! You kick so much ass.

And also ::blush::. I have that same fantasy! And I hate that I'm not running tonight. I'll attempt my speedwork on Friday as long as I'm 100% recovered from the sickness.

Lindsay said...

Hey HEY hey! Look at you girl go! So you did set your treadmill for some sort of incline though? I didn't even bother with that. Usually I do for my normals runs but figured that the speed work, I didn't need it. :-) That was most impressive!

I think I might need to try going slower with my "jog." Maybe that's why it was so hard on me.

Rob said...

Great job on the speedwork, Erin! You are going to do great in April and my prediction is that you will totally ROCK the half marathon!

Hi! I'm Erin said...


I *think* my treadmill is set at some kind of incline. However, there's no display to tell me what, if anything, it's set at. I know that in the past I futzed with the incline up and down buttons but, with no display, I can't figure out where it's at.

Anonymous said...

Awww! Loves ya!

You are a rock star yourself, just getting out there and running circles around everyone.

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