Thursday, November 23, 2006


Yesterday I was really worried about going to running club. We were meant to be doing a time trial, which is a roughly 3 mile route (just a bit under), and which is more like a race. They set you off at different times according to how fast you are, with the intention that everyone finishes at roughly the same time (and therefore has a decent chance of winning, even if they don't run the route the fastest). What was the problem? I can run 3 miles.
Simply, I have got out of the habit of pushing myself to run fast. The thought of putting some pressure on daunted me a little. I know, I've been complaining for ages about how slow I am at the moment, how I used to run faster back in April, how I need to do speed work. But when it comes to actually doing it, rather than talking about doing it I've been a bit pathetic, to be honest. It's no wonder I'm not expecting a PB in my 10k on Sunday when I have an attitude like that when it comes to running fast and pushing myself as hard as I can.
On running websites I see people saying that their best, and most productive speedwork sessions are the ones where they want to throw up at the end. On the other hand, I never work hard enough to get to that stage or even close. I am scared of a bit of old fashioned hard work and effort.
Part of the problem is finding the balance. At the start of the week I said that I wanted to stop pushing myself too hard, because I was burning out, and now I'm saying that I want to push myself harder? OK, it's a woman's right to change her mind all the time, but how do I reconcile those two plans? One way is to ease off a bit and not whinge about being slow. Maybe I can't have my cake and eat it. But the best chance I have of easing off and improving at the same time has to be by focussing on quality over quantity, and by focussing on the important stuff. So if I do a hard short session, not to feel like I need to make up extra miles somewhere else to keep my weekly mileage constant. If I make my sessions harder but shorter (or fewer of them) then will I manage to get hold of not only some extra time, but also more impressive improvements? It could be worth considering. But making sessions harder isn't an easy thing to make myself do. It involves (eek) effort.
Some of it, I think, is the maintenance mindset. Back in April I was still pushing myself hard because I had a place that I wanted to get to, and I wanted to work harder to get there quicker. Now I'm maintaining I know that I can exercise at a slightly less intense level and maintain the weight, so have maybe lost the incentive to challenge myself. I'm happy staying in one place weight wise, which seems to encourage a "you don't need to try any harder" type mentality when it comes to other stuff. I maintain my running rather than challenging myself to improve it.
In the end the time trial was OK. They set me off earlier than I was expecting, fifth, with someone I beat at Guy Fawkes behind me. Within the first mile and a half I'd overtaken three of the four people in front of me, after that a few of the faster people overtook me so I finished about 6th overall. That wasn't too bad for a first attempt (although it may be harder next time if they move me down the running order!). I ran faster than I have done for a long time (I'm now fairly consistently between 8 and 9 minute miles, rather than 9 and 10 minute miles, and last night I was getting towards the lower end of that range for the first time). Oh, how I remember those days of sub 8 minute miles back in Spring though! Even better, I really did feel quite drained when I finished, even though it was a shorter route. That's a good sign that I managed to push myself harder than normal. But it's a big step from pushing myself once to doing it more consistently.


Blogger kathrynoh said...

When I was getting running coaching, I was told to make every 4th week an easy week. That way you can push yourself for the other 3 without burning out. It's so hard to do though.

11:02 PM  
Blogger running uphill said...

Hi I enjoy reading your blog. I was interested to see that I'm not the only one trying to work out the way to balance imrpovement and overdoing it. I had this idea that I would automatically get faster with time, but have had to learn that it doesn't work that way. I think the fact that you are thinking about it this much means that you still have the desire to improve.

It sounds like a bit of competition is the way to go.

4:21 AM  

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