Run Like A Kenyan

It’s a bit warm for my taste today. 75 degrees. 24% humidity. 10 mph winds – and since I did my run later than expected – close to lunchtime – the sun was blazing overhead and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky or any shade on my run today.

Today’s schedule called for intervals. 7 miles total with warm up, then 3 1600’s at 7:46 with 800 meter jogs and cool down. I had some trepidation heading out about hitting my numbers in the heat today, but I was intent on giving it my best shot.

The warm up was wonderful. I relaxed, sang the “I Just Want to be Ok” song and soaked up the countryside. I even stopped for a few pictures on my cell phone today of the hay fields and a sunflower plant with my beloved mountains in the background. I even found a penny! 

Then came the work! I’d set my Garmin to do intervals today before I left home and hit the lap button to signal that my warm up was over and that the first bit of speedwork was now upon me. I punched it and tried to find my goal pace of 7:46. I was feeling it pretty quickly – as I know you’re supposed to on these types of workouts. No stopping for pennies during THAT portion of the workout for sure! I kept a fairly constant eye on the Garmin – trying to keep my pace from going under 7:46. It hurt. I thought of Dennis, the guru runner who thinks these gadgets only serve to chain us to our obsessions and prevent us from “really” being in the moment as runners. His wisdom felt like pure genius in that first mile, when my neck got a cramp from the constant watch-peeking. That first interval pace? 7:37. Too fast!

I took my half mile jog/walk break, drank some watered down Gatorade, stretched and regrouped. Then I went for interval number two. This time, I tried relaxing my shoulders and focusing on better form. I also worked on keeping my breathing even – but I still stared at the watch frequently. I was determined not to go too fast this time. I pretty much nailed that one. 7:45. Very good!

I felt so hot by that point, that I located a nearby sprinkler and went running right through it to cool down a bit before my final interval. The water felt wonderful and I admit to wanting to just stand there all day running back and forth in the water instead of doing what I was there to do.  My homework. Dang, me and my homework sometimes. That stern teacher side of me is a stickler for making me stick to the rules, the paces, etc. whenever possible. But, sometimes, a girl just wants to relax and have fun! 

Now, for the third interval, I decided to do something different. I thought about this article I’d read a few months ago about a man who went to train with the Kenyans for a month. The thing that popped out at me the most from reading about his experience, was that the Kenyans “let the run come to them.” They don’t force it. They relax, they go gently at first and they “feel it.” I want to be a Kenyan!!! That’s not going to happen, but I figured, why not apply that principal to this final interval and see if I can “feel out” the proper pace after doing two of them? I figured it was a great chance to see how my internal pace-sensor is working (or not!)

I will tell you, that immediately, I was enjoying myself again. I thought of this mile as a progressive one – starting gentle and ever so carefully, pushing the gas pedal little by little until I found my pace and then held it for the duration. I did NOT ONCE look at the pace this time! That was part of the experiment. I wanted to try to feel it out. It was fun. I felt more in tune with my body — but I failed as far as hitting my mark went. Darn! I really thought I had it. My third interval pace was 8:11. I guess considering today’s temperature was 75 that may explain the difference as far as my “effort” or “feel” was concerned – but I was a little disappointed. I was hoping to prove that I could, in fact, run a proper pace in training without gawking at the Garmin.

Maybe the real lesson here is that I don’t practice that enough. Maybe I should become a “naked” runner and find out what it’s like to block out all the data and just be free?! Maybe my natural pacing would, over time, become very attuned. It’s something to think about…..

Stats: 7.28 miles. 10:48 ave pace. 1:18 total time.

1st – 7:37
2nd – 7:45
3rd – 8:11 (without ever looking at pace once during mile – Dang!) I have no natural pace -sensing!

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