I had a workout that didn’t go perfectly today. It was an interval workout that I thought I could handle with two faster guy friends. It was 3 x 1600 at 7:20 w 800 recoveries + 1 mi WU and 1 mi CD. Bonus for doing a 4th interval at 7:20. I told my buddy, Frank before we started “Let’s do the bonus one today! It’ll be good for us!” The truth is I haven’t ran intervals for about two years (and neither had Frank) so we weren’t actually sure how it would go!! Seems I was a little overconfident!
We did our warm up mile then Frank took off like a rocket ahead of me. I yelled out, “Frank! That’s too fast! (He was doing about a 6:30 pace.) I looked helplessly over at Ryan who was beside me and he took off after Frank to try and get him under control and back on pace. And, the amazing thing was, though he was able to slow him down just a bit, Frank continued to feel awesome and kept running really well for each and every interval! Ryan stayed with him encouraging him on and pacing him and it was fun to watch the two of them doing so great. I, on the other hand, was struggling just to make the splits!
Interval 1 was at a 7:18 pace and felt pretty good.
Interval 2 was harder since I was chatting with Frank when it started and had to go from walk pace to super fast in a hurry. 7:24
Interval 3 I was determined to go faster so I could get back on track for a 7:20 average. My time – 7:18 — right on the nose (back on track!)
Interval 4 I fell apart. I was pushing myself as hard as I could, lifting my knees, swinging my arms harder, harder, trying with everything I had to get my pace up — but I kept seeing 7:50 ish. It was like running in sand even though I was on the asphalt. I was just out of gas. My time? 7:45. I know that doesn’t seem like much off, but I was discouraged. In the past when I did intervals or tempo work, I would nearly always nail my times. I was consistent.
With my dream of qualifying for Boston at the Pocatello Marathon in 6 weeks looming on the horizen, it caused some self doubts. “Am I really fast enough to BQ if I can’t even hit my numbers in a speed workout in training?” It really bummed me out. I don’t handle failure very well. I know it’s just part of life (and I’ve certainly had plenty of practice with it) yet it’s still a difficult area for me.
While I cleaned the house today and looked after the five kids, I was considering what to do for the next few weeks as I prepare for my marathon. I haven’t used a traditional schedule to prepare. I’ve honestly spent most of my time in the mountains on trails, running longer distances at slower paces with plenty of hillwork. It seemed to serve me pretty well since my last marathon in May was a 3:48 (just 3 1/2 minutes over a BQ time!) I’ve continued to put in between 175-200 miles a month and have spent most of that doing trail running with the intention of adding a bit of speed and tempo work to the schedule on roads to sharpen my speed to hopefully shave off those last few minutes between me and my dream goal!
When I came home from the run today, I went to Runner’s World online and created a specific Smart Coach plan based on my own abilities just to see how close today’s workout goals were to what would be prescribed for me. Turns out it was pretty close. A 4 x 1600 at 7:35 was the suggestion for me. I am fairly certain that would have been easily doable. It’s only a few seconds difference, but when you’re really pushing, that little bit can make the difference between attainable and out of reach.
While I was obsessing about this, my friend Ryan headed into our local running store, Shu’s to ask advice from the owner, Mike, who is well known for happily giving training tips to the locals. I hadn’t even thought of that and felt incredibly lucky to have a running buddy who cared enough to help research my dilemma. Mike’s advice for me? I should stick with the tougher workouts and just do less intervals. If I’d have stopped at the 3 intervals that ended up being right on target, the workout would have been a success. My form was suffering in the final one. I was struggling. He says I should have allowed myself to quit the lap right then and not feel bad about it. That was awesome to hear! He gave Ryan some other helpful training advice for me that I will read over and try to implement in these last few weeks as I fine tune myself for the marathon!
I found this tonight and thought it really hit home for me and was something I needed to see. I hope it helps some of you who may also be struggling with challenging workout goals or big dreams that you aren’t totally sure you can accomplish! I’m really very lucky to have amazing friends who care enough to guide and direct me (and offer encouragement when I need it!) But, ultimately, I am responsible for what goes on in my head. I need to learn to silence the negative chatter and instill a positive mindset no matter WHAT as I approach each workout, each day, each race. Believing in myself regardless of the outcome is really the ultimate goal!