The 2-3 months I’ve been struggling some in my training runs. Some of it because of my asthma-induced bronchitis (thanks, allergies!) and some because of my mental wall I’m hitting upon whenever I’m running between 8:00-8:30 pace. I don’t have problems with running slower because it’s easy. I don’t have problems running faster because I know the burning pain will soon be over. The 8:00-8:30 zone is the zone, where for me, it’s fast enough to hurt after a bit and I need to continue with that suffering for a while. Unlike speed work, the hurt goes on for miles.
I haven’t had a good tempo run in a while. Last month Ben came out with me and I eked out 5-mile tempo at 8:13 pace. I struggled in the middle and I was happy when it was over. I wanted to complete it at a 8:00 pace, but it just wasn’t going to happen. That day I did the best that I could do and that’s all I can ask for.
Still it’s frustrating because I KNOW I can do the 8:00 pace. But I haven’t been able to translate that into actual performance. There’s no reason why I can’t run 3 miles at 8:00 pace (my 5K pace is 15 secs faster than that). But every time I set out to do my tempo, I start out strong and in the middle I flail. I start to slow down in my second mile, which is ridiculous, because in a 5K I’m running faster and I can do the faster pace no problem (okay, it hurts in the last mile, but I’m still at a faster pace). When it’s a tempo run, I struggle to complete the 5 miles even at the slower pace. If I’m running that pace and distance in the middle of a long run, no problem.
For example, I went out on a long steady state run.
I knocked out the first 8 miles without much problems. Now had I intended to do a tempo run at around a 8:20 pace, I would have had a harder time completing it at that pace. Ridiculous. It’s just a mental block. I need to get over this. One solution is to stop calling my tempo runs, tempo runs. I’ll tell myself that I’m going to run a half marathon and then stop after 5 miles.
I went out on that long run with the intention of running as many 8:20 paced miles as I could. I didn’t tell Ben because I knew he would tell me that I should run a bit slower to ensure that I complete my 10 miles. I jokingly refer to my training preferences as the Kenyan method — run fast and just try to hold on as long as possible. It was psychologically more important to me that I run 8:20 and see how many miles I could do before I broke down than to complete the training run. If I could do all 10 miles, then great, I’m in fantastic shape for my half marathon. If I couldn’t do 5, then I would need to re-evaluate my goal. I completed 8 miles before I broke. I think I know why I broke, so I’m not worried about it. Ben was really happy to see how well I did on the run.
I tried to do a bit of speed work on Tuesday. It didn’t go well, but at least I completed one runner rite of passage — throwing up after a run. My asthma got so bad that I couldn’t breath anymore, so I quit early and then promptly heaved. Ben said I wasn’t a runner, until I threw up and now I have. I’m a real runner now.