I've had a good couple of weeks training. I've learnt a couple of things about myself as well.
This blog has gone from a massive read to hopefully something a bit more bite sized.
Last week I ran a 3,3,2,2 session. The numbers represent the number of miles I run at target half marathon pace and you match the amount of time you get for recovery to the miles ran i.e. 3 miles running, 3 minutes recovery. For the past 8 or 9 weeks I've been targeting 5:45 min/mi pace and struggled. I think I've only hit that pace once or twice and even then on shorter 3,2,1 session.
It's a struggle.
Why am I struggling to hit this pace? I managed 5:50 average pace in Inverness so this should be the next obvious step up.
I checked my time for Inverness, 1:18:28. It was a PB for me but wait, that's 5:58 min/mi pace!! No wonder 5:45 was so hard to hit, I was trying to take 10 seconds a mile off my target pace. Idiot!
With that in mind the 3,3,2,2 session target was 5:50 pace.
I met up with 2 club mates, Colin and Richard, and we did our warm up and then headed out around the Edinburgh parkrun course, a 5k out and back route. The pace was good and Richard and Colin were acting as wind breaks for me on the way out around the course. It wasn't a massive headwind but any shelter I could get I was taking! They were planning on just doing 2 x 3 miles.
First set: 5:51, 5:46, 5:46
Second set: 5:48, 5:46, 5:47
Going good so far but it was starting to hurt, could I do this pace for another 2 sets on my own. Only one way to find out.
Third set in to the wind: 5:57, 6:05
The second mile of that set was really painful. I had to really focus on keeping my legs moving. My brain was screaming at me to stop and here lies the lesson from this session. Pain is temporary, you can work through it. The secret is knowing what is a good pain and what is a potential injury. I was pushing hard and I thought I must have been dropping the pace by more than I did. Ok, it wasn't 5:50 pace but considering the 2 sets of 3 were faster than planned, I wasn't annoyed by it and I only had 2 more hard miles to run.
Last set of 2: 6:01, 5:57
Colin and Richard were waiting for me at the start of the second mile and I'm glad they were. It really gave me a boost and as you can see, the pace increased even though my legs were screaming at me.
The average pace of the session was 5:52 which I'm very pleased with.
Manage the pain, don't let it manage you!
This session is without doubt, the hardest I have ever worked and it's a new side to training to me. In the past I will admit, I've just stopped or slowed up. I've given in because the pace was dropping or I wasn't feeling it. What a mistake that was. By giving in to the discomfort I've been cheating. I've not been training my body to accept the discomfort, to embrace it, to look forward to it! This discomfort, the thoughts in your head to stop when the going gets tough is what some of us call, The Beast.
The Beast will sit on your back, whisper in your ear that you need to stop, that you can't go any further and the longer you go on the heavier he gets, making it even harder to run. If you look forward to hearing his voice then you can push on and run harder. You know you are really pushing it once The Beast is with you.
Maybe if I had embraced this discomfort earlier in the year I would be aiming for 5:45 pace, who knows!
I'm now just keeping my legs ticking over for the next couple of days and then it's Barry Buddon half marathon. Lets see if I can meet The Beast again.