I had set my alarm for 4:50 so I could get up, drink coffee, and get things moving (ahem) before getting out the door at 5:30 for speedwork. However, my body decided it would be a brilliant idea to wake up sometime before 4 and be awake for the day. Somehow my daughter got this memo and woke up right around the same time and came to our bed and rolled around for some time. This was problematic as I had to get out of the bed to get dressed, and my children always decide it’s the worst thing in the world for me to leave the house when I have things to get done. She seemed to finally nod off a little after 5, so I called on all my stealth ninja moves to get out of the bed and the room. There may have been some crawling on the floor as well. Oy, the things we do to wake up before the sun to get a run in!
All this to get out the door for a speed workout with my friend/training partner (Jen). BARF. I hate speed training, with every fiber in my being. I was a sprinter on my high school track team for a hot minute before I realized that I hated running myself breathless, and that it was torturous. So I threw shotput (after trying high jump and long jump). True story.
I am working with a running coach (and my friend) to attempt to qualify for Boston, the holy grail of marathons. It involves a lot of speed work. And a lot of self-doubt. I have struggled through about 7 weeks of training thus far, and have about 7 left. One interval and one tempo workout a week have caused me to question myself more as a runner than I have almost ever. Having hardline times to hit and horrible distances like 1000m or 1200m and having to do most of these on the treadmill because of the snow/ice have hit me hard. The last 7 weeks I blamed the treadmill. You can either hit/maintain those speeds or you can’t (and you step off). That whole “do or do not” is hard to take. On the track, it’s easier to pace yourself, modulate your effort, etc. So I’ve clung to the belief that it’s the treadmill, not me….mhmm.
We’ve had a virtual heat wave the last couple days, so everything is melting. I drove by one of the local tracks yesterday and saw it was clear (at least the track part, ha). Jen and I decided to risk it the next morning for a chance to do the speed workout outside.
Alas, despite the posted sign that the track was supposed to be open starting at 5 am, it was locked up. So we took to the streets, running up and down long semi-empty stretches of neighborhood. 2 mile warm up, 4x1200s (i.e., ~0.75 miles) with 400m (~0.25 miles) recovery, 1 mile cooldown. Not pretty, but seemed doable. First 2 1200’s were ok. Third one was ugly. And when it’s you out there hyperventilating, pushing yourself, in the FOGGY DARK, you begin to lose all hope.
[I couldn’t get a decent shot of the foggy pre-dawn, but here’s some from later in the morning.]
So you know what ridiculous thing got me through? Thinking about this new Tina Fey-produced series, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” starring Ellie Kemper (from The Office [US version], and Bridesmaids). The premise of the show sounds ridiculous, Kimmy is rescued from a decade of living in a bunker with a cult leader who told them the apocalypse had come. Upon rescue, she decides to try and make a go of it NYC. I thought the first couple episodes were ok. Anyhow, there’s a scene where she’s trying to offer someone else hope. She suggest that you can endure anything for 10 seconds, so you count to 10. When that 10 is over, you start over again. As inane as that sounds, that is what I did out there this morning. I would quickly calculate that I had a quarter mile left of the interval, realize it was around 2 minutes, and then break it down to 10 seconds. I realize now that I could have just gone straight to the 10 seconds without thinking about the 2 minutes, but your brain isn’t getting all that much oxygen when you’re sprinting, ha. And while my last interval wasn’t fully on pace, I got through it without stopping.
I don’t know if I will qualify for Boston, although I feel like if I can survive this training plan I might have a shot. But I do think about why I run, who I am as a runner, and what the point is. And I realize that I am developing–evolving perhaps–as a runner. I used to just go out and run without worrying about speed/tempo/pace. However, by joining a running group (Best Foot Forward!!), I’ve met other runners who push me and make me want more of myself. And while it’s not always amazing and runners’ highs, how often do we ever really push ourselves beyond our comfort zones to see how much we can accomplish? I joke that I started distance running because I accepted I’d never be a fast runner. And while I don’t think I would call myself all that fast, I’m beginning to realize that I can be fastER. All the same, I’m happy tomorrow will be an easy recovery run day! Keep moving, friends.
And just to show how I’m keeping it real, here’s a post-run shot of me and Jen. There are no filters, it’s blurry, and I look inexplicably aged in this picture (not to mention sweaty), but it’s real.
Do you ever doubt yourself as a runner/athlete? How do you get through it?
How do you feel about speedwork? Favorite workouts? And how do you do speed in the winter?