"Go fast enough to get there, but slow enough to see." - Jimmy Buffett
I'm not going to lie...running has sucked lately. It has been totally rotten and blah and less than fun. I've been doing everything I planned on doing during my "interim." I'm not on a schedule, I'm leisurely picking the amount of miles I feel like running and I have no pressure. Also, the weather! The weather has been unseasonably mild and absolutely amazing. So what gives? I started to evaluate my runs since the half marathon, when I felt like things started to unravel. Guess what I figured out? Pacing is the culprit.

When I first started running, which feels like eons ago, I was running around a 10:30/11 minute mile. I ran my first 5k in August of 2010 in 32:49 and almost died. These days I can run a 5k in about 26 minutes averaging an 8:30 minute mile, if I really push it. This isn't to brag about my "speed," but to show the huge leap I have made in just a short amount of time. I have never done speed work, I just naturally increased my speed over time and distance. Marathon training helped build my endurance so that when I run shorter miles I can essentially "burst" through them because I don't have to pace myself.

So what's my point? My point is that lately I have been KILLING myself to run at the faster pace, because I know I can. However, what I've found is that I'm sore, grumpy and overall unsatisfied by the run when I finish. Sure, I can brag that I hauled ass and PR'd, but who cares? I haven't even been wearing my watch for most of my runs because I am really trying to go out for fun and not time and distance. Though, let's be honest here, with or without our watches we know if we're pushing ourselves or going slower than our natural pace.

This weekend I ran 2 times. Once on Saturday and once on Sunday. Saturday's run was a hilly 4 miler that I ran around an average of a 9 minute mile. I was miserable the entire time and mentally unfocused and unhappy. When I got home I started to second guess myself about running in general, and especially training for another marathon. I was feeling an all time running low to say the least. Sunday I forced myself out of the house into the beautiful weather. I decided I needed to try things a little bit differently and go back to the beginning.

I took Sunday's run nice and slow. I headed towards a 6 mile loop that is insanely hilly and figured I could bail out at mile 4 and head home if I wasn't feeling it. I kept a close eye on my watch, without being too crazy and kept myself around a 9:45/10 minute per mile pace. This was faster than the "beginning" but closer to my training pace. I felt so comfortable and trotted along really enjoying the scenery. I conquered hills with absolute ease and took breaks when I wanted, not because I NEEDED to or HAD to (lest I pass out). I took the run one mile at a time and didn't worry about pushing myself and "beating the clock." It was so reminiscent of my training runs, and when I reached mile 4 I felt too good to stop. I continued on, and up 2 more huge hills, to finish out my loop. If it weren't for fear of injury and overuse, I would have done 10 miles because I was feeling that great.

When I got home I was smiling from ear to ear. I felt rejuvenated, happy and refreshed. I made a comment to my husband that those 6 miles were the best feeling miles I have ran in a long time. If all it takes is slowing down a bit for me to feel that amazing after a run, I'll do it. I'm learning that pace isn't just about time, it's about endurance, strength and most important, emotion. Pacing yourself one way or another can determine the entire outcome of a run. You may finish, you may even finish first, but it doesn't always mean you had a truly enjoyable run. For me, an enjoyable run will always beat the time on the clock.

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,
Holly
Cristin
11/29/2011

Sweet Buffett quote! And also, maybe now we can run together if you are going back to the land of the sloth, LOL! (Also, 9:30/10:00 miles are far from sloth like, but you know what I mean!) Loves :)

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11/30/2011

I love... "I'm learning that pace isn't just about time, it's about endurance, strength and most important, emotion." Great post. Thanks for sharing!

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Chrissie
11/30/2011

Yes, you are running my speed. I tell myself, especially with stroller in tow, as long as I am out there I could be running a 12 minute mile :-)

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