Archive | 4:07 pm

Getting my running mojo back!

23 Jun

When I first started running, I was fairly speedy (for me), averaging between a 9:30 and 10:00 pace. The first race I ever did, the White Bear Lake Freedom 10 Mile, I ran at a 9:30 pace for 7 miles until I got this weird blister thing under my toe. I ended up finishing right around 1:40.

Then I moved to Colorado and the altitude instantly added a minute to my per-mile pace. But the more I ran, the more I got used to the altitude. I started running shorter runs at a 10:00 pace again. I ran my first half in 2:30:46, an 11:31 pace. A week later, I ran my first and only 10K in 62:36, a 10:03 pace.

The next year, I trained for my first sprint triathlon. As I have mentioned before, I was really gung ho about training. With the weight lifting and cross-training, I was regularly running at a 9:30 or even (gasp!) 9:00 pace.

It was awesome.

But once I stopped training like a mad man, my pace went back to just a little over a 10-minute mile.

And then 2010 happened.

Any speed I had ever had completely disappeared. While I was training for my second half and what I had hoped to be my first full marathon (but ended up being my third half), I was running so slow I was practically walking. No Joke.

It was so bad that I felt good about anything faster than a 12:00/mile pace. A lot of runs, I didn’t even make that goal. My half marathon times slipped to 2:33:50 and then 2:44:44.

What was happening to me?!?!?

Maybe I’m just getting old.

But actually, I’m pretty sure the same thing that caused my IT-band injury while marathon training is the same thing causing my excessive slowness. It’s three-fold:

1. Not enough (or any) weight training.

When I was training for my first sprint triathlon, I did full-body weights 2 times a week. I am almost positive that had a lot to do with how much faster I was running.

2. Not enough (or any) speedwork.

The ladies on The Nest’s Health & Fitness board like to say, “To run faster, you have to run faster.” You’d think that it being such a simple concept, I would have adopted it when I found myself progressively getting slower. Nah. I’d rather just put the miles in and hope the speed comes magically.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from frequenting the H&F board on The Nest, it’s that a lot of speedy runners work for their speed. They aren’t just out doing joy laps. They’re doing sprints, mile repeats, tempo runs, hill workouts. They’re balls to the walls.

3. Not enough stretching.

Not stretching, specifically not stretching my IT band, is definitely what caused my injury last year. I’m pretty sure that not stretching also has an effect on how fast I can go, because it affects hip flexors, hamstrings, calves, and generally makes running more enjoyable. It’s no fun to start a run and realize that your hamstring is as tight as a fiddle string.

To put these realizations into practice, I’ve decided to incorporate one day of upper body strength and one of lower body into my training, as well as at least 2 speed workouts a week (for running), and stretching after every workout (this is still hit or miss). I’m also trying to do drills and speed work for the swim and bike portions, but that looks different.

So far, since adopting my new philosophy, I’ve done several tempo runs, intervals, and some 1/2 mile repeats. So I was super excited this morning when I went on a run and ran the fastest pace I’ve ran for over a mile since training for that first triathlon. After 1.5 miles at a steady pace with the dogs, I went out for 2 more miles alone. I felt like I was pushing it (I was very out of breath) but my legs also started feeling heavy. I’ve been disappointed before when I feel like I’m running fast and I look at my watch, only to see it’s a 11:00 pace. So I wasn’t expecting anything (though secretly hoping for a 10:00 pace). I looked at my watch at the 1 mile point –



I was totally impressed by my little legs and pathetic lungs. Aw, you guys are getting stronger from the speed work – that’s so cute!

That achievement gave me the motivation I needed to push through another mile. I felt like I was slower. A negative split would be nice, but I’d be satisfied with around a 10:10.

My breathing was very labored. I was so ready to be done being out of breath. This was one of those runs where my legs felt amazing but my lungs just couldn’t keep up.

I was about 1/10 of a mile from my house when I looked at my watch. I only had 1 minute left if I was going to break a 10:00 pace.

I punched it and just about died.

But I made it. Split time: 9:36.


That run totally made my day and reassured me: Yes, I can get faster. 

{Update: I took my bike to the bike store last night and they said the rear derailleur hanger was bent. They fixed it and I can go pick it up after work! Bike ride tomorrow, here I come!}